- 1 The Schism of the Roman Catholic Church from the Eastern Orthodox: 1054-1954
- 2 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848
- 3 Letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
- 4 The Sign of the Cross
- 5 The gesture
- 6 Use of the sign
- 7 Origins of the sign of the cross
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The Schism of the Roman Catholic Church from the Eastern Orthodox: 1054-1954
Exactly nine hundred years have passed since the separation of the two great Churches of Christendom when the Western Church broke away from the Eastern Orthodox. Many still seek the cause of this most unfortunate division. Actually, it can be found in the difference concerning the Primacy of the Pope of Rome. Until the Fifth Century A.D. there was not even a single instance of dissension or antagonism between the two Churches. The Bishop of Rome had always been considered the First in the order of hierarchy. This was a natural consequence of the position of Rome as the capital of the Roman Empire. When Constantinople became the new capital of the Byzantine State its Bishop assumed the second position in the ranks of the hierarchy. The third canon of the Second Ecumenical Council (381) designates the position of honor of the Bishop of Constantinople as second only to that of the Bishop of Rome. This decision of the Council is based on the premise that Constantinople is new Rome, and, incidentally, it has been retained among the titles of the Patriarch of Constantinople. This indicates, as was brought out at the Council, that the political importance of the city defined the honorary status of its hierarchy. The same fact was repeated with emphasis by the now renown 28th Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council held at Chalcedon in 451. At that time, the Bishop of Constantinople was acclaimed as equal in honor to the Bishop of Rome. In the meantime, erroneous beliefs began to circulate in the Church of the West. Of these, the most serious was an addition to the Creed of Nicaea-Constantinople concerning the Holy Spirit. The Church of Rome wanted to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son. In Latin, this addition was accomplished by the word, “filioque.” It should be made clear at this point that the Creed or ??S???O, was compiled and authorized as the Christian Confessions of faith by the First and Second Ecumenical Councils. The first seven articles of the Creed were approved at the First Council and the remaining five were composed at the Second Council which was held in Constantinople. The Eighth article states “and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped...” This addition of “filioque” (“and from the Son”) was first heard in Spain during the middle of the Sixth Century. From there, this innovation spread to other western countries. It is most noteworthy however, that during the early part of the Ninth Century, Pope Leo III protested against this addition to the Creed. Convinced that it should remain as it has been written and proclaimed by the first two Ecumenical Councils, he ordered that the Creed be inscribed without any change upon two silver plaques. These were placed in St. Peter’s at Rome for all to see. This is a historical fact which is accepted by all historians as true. The first to object strongly to this addition to the Creed, and to other errors of the Western Church, was Photios, the great Patriarch of Constantinople, who flourished in the middle of the Ninth Century. Photios was a brilliant scholar and theologian who held a high position in the Imperial Byzantine Court. He attained great literary fame with his monumental work, “Myrio Biblos,” in which he summarized 280 ancient writings of which the majority were subsequently lost. Due to his great ability and exceptional virtues as a layman he was admitted to the priesthood and in a period of six days he was ordained deacon, priest and bishop. On Christmas Day of 857, he was enthroned as Patriarch of Constantinople. The discord between the Eastern and the Western Church continued on a livelier vein after Patriarch Photios. The Eastern Church, with the Patriarch of Constantinople at its head, protested against the errors in dogma taught by the Western Church. Constant appeals were made to Rome to renounce all error and conform with the teachings of the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the first eight centuries. Simultaneously, the Western Church, with the Pope as its head, maintained that the entire Christian Church was obliged to adhere without discussion to the pronouncements of the Roman See. They maintained that the primate of the Church of Rome was the vicar of Christ on earth, because he was supposedly the heir to the primacy of St. Peter whom Christ our Lord had installed as head of the universal Church, and who had founded the Christian Church of Rome. Now let us see what we can learn from the original account of the events in question: (a) We should first consider that passage from the Gospel according to St. Matthew upon which the Roman Catholics base the primacy of St. Peter. Our Lord was at Caesarea of Philippi (Matt. 16) when He asked His Disciples: “Whom do men say that I am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, but whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art Christ the Son of the Living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for the flesh and blood hath not revealed it into thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:13-18) It is quite evident from these words of our Lord that He built His Church not upon Peter for then He would have clearly said, “Thou art Peter and upon thee I will build my Church,” but upon the rock of the true Faith which Peter confessed. Christ our Lord clearly said that His Church is built upon the truth which Peter declared that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. Only through considerable distortion of the text can one draw the conclusion of the Roman Catholics, that Christ built the Church upon Peter. (b) It is also clear from the Scriptures that St. Peter had no authority over the Apostles. In his Epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul states that when he saw Peter was not thinking correctly, he corrected him in the presence of others, “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” (Gal. 2:11) Further down St. Paul elaborates by saying, “ . . . when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all) if thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” (Gal. 2:14) On the basis of these words of St. Paul we may justly question, “Is there even a trace of recognition here of Peter’s authority to teach without the possibility of error?” (c) Concerning the foundation of the Christian Church in Rome there is authoritative testimony that it was not accomplished by St. Peter. It was established by Christians who settled in Rome. Moreover, St. Paul considered it his Church. He mentioned this in his epistle to the Romans, “. . . from Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation ... for which, cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey.” (Rom. 15:19-20, 22-23) From this passage, therefore, we clearly see that St. Paul had no knowledge that Peter was in Rome or that St. Peter had founded the Church there. On the contrary, he says that he feels obliged to preach the gospel where no other Apostle taught so that he would not build upon the foundation laid by another. Surely this is an explicit testimony that St. Peter was in no way connected with the foundation of the Church of Rome. Actually St. Peter served the Church for many years in Antioch, as verified by St. Jerome, and then went to Rome where he suffered martyrdom with St. Paul. (d) In conclusion it should be pointed out that the order of precedence given to the Apostolic Sees was determined exclusively by the political importance of various cities. The Bishop of Rome was recognized as first because Rome was capital of the empire. Originally, the Bishop of Constantinople was designated as second by the Second Ecumenical Council. Subsequently, when Constantinople became the capital of the Byzantine Empire and was referred to as New Rome, the Fourth Ecumenical Council proclaimed the Bishop of Constantinople equal in rank with the Bishop of Rome. The Bishop of Alexandria was designated third, because his city was then the great center of learning; and following him were the Bishops of Antioch and Jerusalem. If the position of honor were determined not by the political but by the religious significance of the city, does it not stand to reason that the primacy of honor would be reserved for Jerusalem, the Mother Church of Christendom? There would be no dispute in that case, for our Lord lived there and was crucified and arose from the tomb. Moreover, the first Christian Church was founded in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. These are the true and accurate facts as they are brought to light by the authentic documents which make up Ecclesiastical History. It is very unfortunate that the Western Church insists on its view for so many centuries. We Orthodox are deeply grieved that our Roman Catholic brethren distort the facts. We are praying daily and will continue to pray that the Roman Catholic Church will again embrace the truth, as many learned laymen of that faith have done already. That event will be one of the most momentous in the entire history of mankind. It will mark the beginning of the fulfillment of the prayer of Lord on the night of His betrayal, “Father, I pray that they all may be one; as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Archbishop Michael of North and South America
Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848
A Reply to the Epistle of Pope Pius IX, "to the Easterns" To All the Bishops Everywhere, Beloved in the Holy Ghost, Our Venerable, Most Dear Brethren; and to their Most Pious Clergy; and to All the Genuine Orthodox Sons of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church: Brotherly Salutation in the Holy Spirit, and Every Good From God, and Salvation.
The holy, evangelical and divine Gospel of Salvation should be set forth by all in its original simplicity, and should evermore be believed in its unadulterated purity, even the same as it was revealed to His holy Apostles by our Savior, who for this very cause, descending from the bosom of God the Father, made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant (Phil. ii. 7); even the same, also, as those Apostles, who were ear and eye witnesses, sounded it forth, like clear-toned trumpets, to all that are under the sun (for their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words into the ends of the world); and, last of all, the very same as the many great and glorious Fathers of the Catholic Church in all parts of the earth, who heard those Apostolic voices, both by their synodical and their individual teachings handed it down to all everywhere, and even unto us. But the Prince of Evil, that spiritual enemy of man's salvation, as formerly in Eden, craftily assuming the pretext of profitable counsel, he made man to become a transgressor of the divinely-spoken command. so in the spiritual Eden, the Church of God, he has from time to time beguiled many; and, mixing the deleterious drugs of heresy with the clear streams of orthodox doctrine, gives of the potion to drink to many of the innocent who live unguardedly, not giving earnest heed to the things they have heard (Heb. ii. 10), and to what they have been told by their fathers (Deut. xxxii. 7), in accordance with the Gospel and in agreement with the ancient Doctors; and who, imagining that the preached and written Word of the LORD and the perpetual witness of His Church are not sufficient for their souls' salvation, impiously seek out novelties, as we change the fashion of our garments, embracing a counterfeit of the evangelical doctrine.
2. Hence have arisen manifold and monstrous heresies, which the Catholic Church, even from her infancy, taking unto her the whole armor of God, and assuming the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. vi. 13-17,) has been compelled to combat. She has triumphed over all unto this day, and she will triumph for ever, being manifested as mightier and more illustrious after each struggle.
3. Of these heresies, some already have entirely failed, some are in decay, some have wasted away, some yet flourish in a greater or less degree vigorous until the time of their return to the Faith, while others are reproduced to run their course from their birth to their destruction. For being the miserable cogitations and devices of miserable men, both one and the other, struck with the thunderbolt of the anathema of the seven Ecumenical Councils, shall vanish away, though they may last a thousand years; for the orthodoxy of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, by the living Word of God, alone endures for ever, according to the infallible promise of the LORD: the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. xviii. 18). Certainly, the mouths of ungodly and heretical men, however bold, however plausible and fair-speaking, however smooth they may be, will not prevail against the orthodox doctrine winning, its way silently and without noise. But, wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? (Jer. xii. 1.) Why are the ungodly exalted and lifted up as the cedars of Lebanon (Ps. xxxvii. 35), to defile the peaceful worship of God? The reason of this is mysterious, and the Church, though daily praying that this cross, this messenger of Satan, may depart from her, ever hears from the Lord: My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is made perfect in weakness (2. Cor. xii. 9). Wherefore she gladly glories in her infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon her, and that they which are approved may be made manifest (1. Cor. x. 19).
4. Of these heresies diffused, with what sufferings the LORD hath known, over a great part of the world, was formerly Arianism, and at present is the Papacy. This, too, as the former has become extinct, although now flourishing, shall not endure, but pass away and be cast down, and a great voice from heaven shall cry: It is cast down (Rev. xii. 10).
5. The new doctrine, that "the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son," is contrary to the memorable declaration of our LORD, emphatically made respecting it: which proceedeth from the Father (John xv. 26), and contrary to the universal Confession of the Catholic Church as witnessed by the seven Ecumenical Councils, uttering "which proceedeth from the Father." (Symbol of Faith).
i. This novel opinion destroys the oneness from the One cause, and the diverse origin of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, both of which are witnessed to in the Gospel.
ii. Even into the divine Hypostases or Persons of the Trinity, of equal power and equally to be adored, it introduces diverse and unequal relations, with a confusion or commingling of them.
iii. It reproaches as imperfect, dark, and difficult to be understood, the previous Confession of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
iv. It censures the holy Fathers of the first Ecumenical Synod of Nice and of the second Ecumenical Synod at Constantinople, as imperfectly expressing what relates to the Son and Holy Ghost, as if they had been silent respecting the peculiar property of each Person of the Godhead, when it was necessary that all their divine properties should be expressed against the Arians and Macedonians.
v. It reproaches the Fathers of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh Ecumenical Councils, which had published over the world a divine Creed, perfect and complete, and interdicted under dread anathemas and penalties not removed, all addition, or diminution, or alteration, or variation in the smallest particular of it, by themselves or any whomsoever. Yet was this quickly to be corrected and augmented, and consequently the whole theological doctrine of the Catholic Fathers was to be subjected to change, as if, forsooth, a new property even in regard to the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity had been revealed.
vi. It clandestinely found an entrance at first in the Churches of the West, "a wolf in sheep's clothing," that is, under the signification not of procession, according to the Greek meaning in the Gospel and the Creed, but under the signification of mission, as Pope Martin explained it to the Confessor Maximus, and as Anastasius the Librarian explained it to John VIII.
vii. It exhibits incomparable boldness, acting without authority, and forcibly puts a false stamp upon the Creed, which is the common inheritance of Christianity.
viii. It has introduced huge disturbances into the peaceful Church of God, and divided the nations.
ix. It was publicly proscribed, at its first promulgation, by two ever-to-be-remembered Popes, Leo III and John VIII, the latter of whom, in his epistle to the blessed Photius, classes with Judas those who first brought the interpolation into the Creed.
x. It has been condemned by many Holy Councils of the four Patriarchs of the East.
xi. It was subjected to anathema, as a novelty and augmentation of the Creed, by the eighth Ecumenical Council, congregated at Constantinople for the pacification of the Eastern and Western Churches.
xii. As soon as it was introduced into the Churches of the West it brought forth disgraceful fruits, bringing with it, little by little, other novelties, for the most part contrary to the express commands of our Savior in the Gospel—commands which till its entrance into the Churches were closely observed. Among these novelties may be numbered sprinkling instead of baptism, denial of the divine Cup to the Laity, elevation of one and the same bread broken, the use of wafers, unleavened instead of real bread, the disuse of the Benediction in the Liturgies, even of the sacred Invocation of the All-holy and Consecrating Spirit, the abandonment of the old Apostolic Mysteries of the Church, such as not anointing baptized infants, or their not receiving the Eucharist, the exclusion of married men from the Priesthood, the infallibility of the Pope and his claim as Vicar of Christ, and the like. Thus it was that the interpolation led to the setting aside of the old Apostolic pattern of well nigh all the Mysteries and all doctrine, a pattern which the ancient, holy, and orthodox Church of Rome kept, when she was the most honored part of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
xiii. It drove the theologians of the West, as its defenders, since they had no ground either in Scripture or the Fathers to countenance heretical teachings, not only into misrepresentations of the Scriptures, such as are seen in none of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, but also into adulterations of the sacred and pure writings of the Fathers alike of the East and West.
xiv. It seemed strange, unheard of, and blasphemous, even to those reputed Christian communions, which, before its origin, had been for other just causes for ages cut off from the Catholic fold.
xv. It has not yet been even plausibly defended out of the Scriptures, or with the least reason out of the Fathers, from the accusations brought against it, notwithstanding all the zeal and efforts of its supporters. The doctrine bears all the marks of error arising out of its nature and peculiarities. All erroneous doctrine touching the Catholic truth of the Blessed Trinity, and the origin of the divine Persons, and the subsistence of the Holy Ghost, is and is called heresy, and they who so hold are deemed heretics, according to the sentence of St. Damasus, Pope of Rome, who says: "If any one rightly holds concerning the Father and the Son, yet holds not rightly of the Holy Ghost, he is an heretic" (Cath. Conf. of Faith which Pope Damasus sent to Paulinus, Bishop of Thessalonica). Wherefore the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, following in the steps of the holy Fathers, both Eastern and Western, proclaimed of old to our progenitors and again teaches today synodically, that the said novel doctrine of the Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son is essentially heresy, and its maintainers, whoever they be, are heretics, according to the sentence of Pope St. Damasus, and that the congregations of such are also heretical, and that all spiritual communion in worship of the orthodox sons of the Catholic Church with such is unlawful. Such is the force of the seventh Canon of the third Ecumenical Council.
6. This heresy, which has united to itself many innovations, as has been said, appeared about the middle of the seventh century, at first and secretly, and then under various disguises, over the Western Provinces of Europe, until by degrees, creeping along for four or five centuries, it obtained precedence over the ancient orthodoxy of those parts, through the heedlessness of Pastors and the countenance of Princes. Little by little it overspread not only the hitherto orthodox Churches of Spain, but also the German, and French, and Italian Churches, whose orthodoxy at one time was sounded throughout the world, with whom our divine Fathers such as the great Athanasius and heavenly Basil conferred, and whose sympathy and fellowship with us until the seventh Ecumenical Council, preserved unharmed the doctrine of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. But in process of time, by envy of the devil, the novelties respecting the sound and orthodox doctrine of the Holy Ghost, the blasphemy of whom shall not be forgiven unto men either in this world or the next, according to the saying of our Lord (Matt. xii. 32), and others that succeeded respecting the divine Mysteries, particularly that of the world-saving Baptism, and the Holy Communion, and the Priesthood, like prodigious births, overspread even Old Rome; and thus sprung, by assumption of special distinctions in the Church as a badge and title, the Papacy. Some of the Bishops of that City, styled Popes, for example Leo III and John VIII, did indeed, as has been said, denounce the innovation, and published the denunciation to the world, the former by those silver plates, the latter by his letter to the holy Photius at the eighth Ecumenical Council, and another to Sphendopulcrus, by the hands of Methodius, Bishop of Moravia. The greater part, however, of their successors, the Popes of Rome, enticed by the antisynodical privileges offered them for the oppression of the Churches of God, and finding in them much worldly advantage, and "much gain," and conceiving a Monarchy in the Catholic Church and a monopoly of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, changed the ancient worship at will, separating themselves by novelties from the old received Christian Polity. Nor did they cease their endeavors, by lawless projects (as veritable history assures us), to entice the other four Patriarchates into their apostasy from Orthodoxy, and so subject the Catholic Church to the whims and ordinances of men.
7. Our illustrious predecessors and fathers, with united labor and counsel, seeing the evangelical doctrine received from the Fathers to be trodden under foot, and the robe of our Savior woven from above to be torn by wicked hands, and stimulated by fatherly and brotherly love, wept for the desolation of so many Christians for whom Christ died. They exercised much zeal and ardor, both synodically and individually, in order that the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church being saved, they might knit together as far as they were able that which had been rent; and like approved physicians they consulted together for the safety of the suffering member, enduring many tribulations, and contempts, and persecutions, if haply the Body of Christ might not be divided, or the definitions of the divine and august Synods be made of none effect. But veracious history has transmitted to us the relentlessness of the Western perseverance in error. These illustrious men proved indeed on this point the truth of the words of our holy father Basil the sublime, when he said, from experience, concerning the Bishops of the West, and particularly of the Pope: "They neither know the truth nor endure to learn it, striving against those who tell them the truth, and strengthening themselves in their heresy" (to Eusebius of Samosata). Thus, after a first and second brotherly admonition, knowing their impenitence, shaking them off and avoiding them, they gave them over to their reprobate mind. "War is better than peace, apart from God," as said our holy father Gregory, concerning the Arians. From that time there has been no spiritual communion between us and them; for they have with their own hands dug deep the chasm between themselves and Orthodoxy.
8. Yet the Papacy has not on this account ceased to annoy the peaceful Church of God, but sending out everywhere so-called missionaries, men of reprobate minds, it compasses land and sea to make one proselyte, to deceive one of the Orthodox, to corrupt the doctrine of our LORD, to adulterate, by addition, the divine Creed of our holy Faith, to prove the Baptism which God gave us superfluous, the communion of the Cup void of sacred efficacy, and a thousand other things which the demon of novelty dictated to the all-daring Schoolmen of the Middle Ages and to the Bishops of the elder Rome, venturing all things through lust of power. Our blessed predecessors and fathers, in their piety, though tried and persecuted in many ways and means, within and without, directly and indirectly, "yet confident in the LORD," were able to save and transmit to us this inestimable inheritance of our fathers, which we too, by the help of God, will transmit as a rich treasure to the generations to come, even to the end of the world. But notwithstanding this, the Papists do not cease to this day, nor will cease, according to wont, to attack Orthodoxy,—a daily living reproach which they have before their eyes, being deserters from the faith of their fathers. Would that they made these aggressions against the heresy which has overspread and mastered the West. For who doubts that had their zeal for the overthrow of Orthodoxy been employed for the overthrow of heresy and novelties, agreeable to the God-loving counsels of Leo III and John VIII, those glorious and last Orthodox Popes, not a trace of it, long ago, would have been remembered under the sun, and we should now be saying the same things, according to the Apostolic promise. But the zeal of those who succeeded them was not for the protection of the Orthodox Faith, in conformity with the zeal worthy of all remembrance which was in Leo III., now among the blessed.
9. In a measure the aggressions of the later Popes in their own persons had ceased, and were carried on only by means of missionaries. But lately, Pius IX., becoming Bishop of Rome and proclaimed Pope in 1847, published on the sixth of January, in this present year, an Encyclical Letter addressed to the Easterns, consisting of twelve pages in the Greek version, which his emissary has disseminated, like a plague coming from without, within our Orthodox Fold. In this Encyclical, he addresses those who at different times have gone over from different Christian Communions, and embraced the Papacy, and of course are favorable to him, extending his arguments also to the Orthodox, either particularly or without naming them; and, citing our divine and holy Fathers (p. 3, 1.14-18; p. 4, 1.19; p. 9, 1.6; and pp. 17, 23), he manifestly calumniates them and us their successors and descendants: them, as if they admitted readily the Papal commands and rescripts without question because issuing from the Popes is undoubted arbiters of the Catholic Church; us, as unfaithful to their examples (for thus he trespasses on the Fold committed to us by God), as severed from our Fathers, as careless of our sacred trusts, and of the soul's salvation of our spiritual children. Usurping as his own possession the Catholic Church of Christ, by occupancy, as he boasts, of the Episcopal Throne of St. Peter, he desires to deceive the more simple into apostasy from Orthodoxy, choosing for the basis of all theological instruction these paradoxical words (p. 10, 1.29): "nor is there any reason why ye refuse a return to the true Church and Communion with this my holy Throne."
10. Each one of our brethren and sons in Christ who have been piously brought up and instructed, wisely regarding the wisdom given him from God, will decide that the words of the present Bishop of Rome, like those of his schismatical predecessors, are not words of peace, as he affirms (p. 7,1.8), and of benevolence, but words of deceit and guile, tending to self-aggrandizement, agreeably to the practice of his antisynodical predecessors. We are therefore sure, that even as heretofore, so hereafter the Orthodox will not be beguiled. For the word of our LORD is sure (John x. 5), A stranger will they not follow, but flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers.
11. For all this we have esteemed it our paternal and brotherly need, and a sacred duty, by our present admonition to confirm you in the Orthodoxy you hold from your forefathers, and at the same time point out the emptiness of the syllogisms of the Bishop of Rome, of which he is manifestly himself aware. For not from his Apostolic Confession does he glorify his Throne, but from his Apostolic Throne seeks to establish his dignity, and from his dignity, his Confession. The truth is the other way. The Throne of Rome is esteemed that of St. Peter by a single tradition, but not from Holy Scripture, where the claim is in favor of Antioch, whose Church is therefore witnessed by the great Basil (Ep. 48 Athan.) to be "the most venerable of all the Churches in the world." Still more, the second Ecumenical Council, writing to a Council of the West (to the most honorable and religious brethren and fellow-servants, Damasus, Ambrose, Britto, Valerian, and others), witnesseth, saying: "The oldest and truly Apostolic Church of Antioch, in Syria, where first the honored name of Christians was used." We say then that the Apostolic Church of Antioch had no right of exemption from being judged according to divine Scripture and synodical declarations, though truly venerated for the throne of St. Peter. But what do we say? The blessed Peter, even in his own person, was judged before all for the truth of the Gospel, and, as Scripture declares, was found blamable and not walking uprightly. What opinion is to be formed of those who glory and pride themselves solely in the possession of his Throne, so great in their eyes? Nay, the sublime Basil the great, the Ecumenical teacher of Orthodoxy in the Catholic Church, to whom the Bishops of Rome are obliged to refer us (p. 8, 1.31), has clearly and explicitly above ( 7) shown us what estimation we ought to have of the judgments of the inaccessible Vatican:—"They neither," he says, "know the truth, nor endure to learn it, striving against those who tell them the truth, and strengthening themselves in their heresy." So that these our holy Fathers whom his Holiness the Pope, worthily admiring as lights and teachers even of the West, accounts as belonging to us, and advises us (p. 8) to follow, teach us not to judge Orthodoxy from the holy Throne, but the Throne itself and him that is on the Throne by the sacred Scriptures, by Synodical decrees and limitations, and by the Faith which has been preached, even the Orthodoxy of continuous teaching. Thus did our Fathers judge and condemn Honorius, Pope of Rome, and Dioscorus, Pope of Alexandria, and Macedonius and Nestorius, Patriarchs of Constantinople, and Peter Gnapheus, Patriarch of Antioch, with others. For if the abomination of desolation stood in the Holy Place, why not innovation and heresy upon a holy Throne? Hence is exhibited in a brief compass the weakness and feebleness of the efforts in behalf of the despotism of the Pope of Rome. For, unless the Church of Christ was founded upon the immovable rock of St. Peter’s Confession, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (which was the answer of the Apostles in common, when the question was put to them, Whom say ye that I am? (Matt. xvi. 15,) as the Fathers, both Eastern and Western, interpret the passage to us), the Church was built upon a slippery foundation, even on Cephas himself, not to say on the Pope, who, after monopolizing the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, has made such an administration of them as is plain from history. But our divine Fathers, with one accord, teach that the sense of the thrice-repeated command, Feed my sheep, implied no prerogative in St. Peter over the other Apostles, least of all in his successors. It was a simple restoration to his Apostleship, from which he had fallen by his thrice-repeated denial. St. Peter himself appears to have understood the intention of the thrice-repeated question of our Lord: Lovest thou Me, and more, and than these?. (John xxi. 16;) for, calling to mind the words, Thou all shall be offended because of Thee, yet will 1 never be offended (Matt. xxvi. 33), he was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? But his successors, from self-interest, understand the expression as indicative of St. Peter's more ready mind.
12. His Holiness the Pope says (p. viii. 1.12.) that our LORD said to Peter (Luke xxii. 32), I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. Our LORD so prayed because Satan had sought to overthrow the faith of all the disciples, but the LORD allowed him Peter only, chiefly because he had uttered words of boasting, and justified himself above the rest (Matt. xxvi. 33): Though all shall be offended, because of thee, yet will I never be offended. The permission to Satan was but temporary. He began to curse and to swear: I know not the man. So weak is human nature, left to itself. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. It was but temporary, that, coming again to himself by his return in tears of repentance, he might the rather strengthen his brethren who had neither perjured themselves nor denied. Oh! the wise judgment of the LORD! How divine and mysterious was the last night of our Savior upon earth! That sacred Supper is believed to be consecrated to this day in every Church: This do in remembrance of me (Luke xxii. 19), and As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the LORD's death till he come (1 Cor. xi. 26). Of the brotherly love thus earnest1y commended to us by the common Master, saying, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciple, if ye have love one to another (John xiii. 35), have the Popes first broken the stamp and seal, supporting and receiving heretical novelties, contrary to the things delivered to us and canonically confirmed by our Teachers and Fathers in common. This love acts at this day with power in the souls of Christian people, and particularly in their leaders. We boldly avow before God and men, that the prayer of our Savior (p. ix. l.43) to God and His Father for the common love and unity of Christians in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, in which we believe, that they may be one, ever as we are one (John xvii. 22), worketh in us no less than in his Holiness. Our brotherly love and zeal meet that of his Holiness, with only this difference, that in us it worketh for the covenanted preservation of the pure, undefiled, divine, spotless, and perfect Creed of the Christian Faith, in conformity to the voice of the Gospel and the decrees of the seven holy Ecumenical Synods and the teachings of the ever-existing Catholic Church: but worketh in his Holiness to prop and strengthen the authority and dignity of them that sit on the Apostolic Throne, and their new doctrine. Behold then, the head and front, so to speak, of all the differences and disagreements that have happened between us and them, and the middle wall of partition, which we hope will be taken away in the time of is Holiness, and by the aid of his renowned wisdom, according to the promise of God (St. John x. 16): "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also 1 must bring and they shall hear my voice (Who proceedeth from the Father "). Let it be said then, in the third place, that if it be supposed, according to the words of his Holiness, that this prayer of our LORD for Peter when about to deny and perjure himself, remained attached and united to the Throne of Peter, and is transmitted with power to those who from time to time sit upon it, although, as has before been said, nothing contributes to confirm the opinion (as we are strikingly assured from the example of the blessed Peter himself, even after the descent of the Holy Ghost, yet are we convinced from the words of our LORD, that the time will come when that divine prayer concerning the denial of Peter, "that his faith might not fail for ever" will operate also in some one of the successors of his Throne, who will also weep, as he did, bitterly, and being sometime converted will strengthen us, his brethren, still more in the Orthodox Confession, which we hold from our forefathers;—and would that his Holiness might be this true successor of the blessed Peter! To this our humble prayer, what hinders that we should add our sincere and hearty Counsel in the name of the Holy Catholic Church? We dare not say, as does his Holiness (p. x. 1.22), that it should be done "without any delay;" but without haste, utter mature consideration, and also, if need be, after consultation with the more wise, religious, truth-loving, and prudent of the Bishops, Theologians, and Doctors, to be found at the present day, by God's good Providence, in every nation of the West.
13. His Holiness says that the Bishop of Lyons, St. Irenaeus, writes in praise of the Church of Rome: "That the whole Church, namely, the faithful from everywhere, must come together in that Church, because of its Primacy, in which Church the tradition, given by the Apostles, has in all respects been observed by the faithful everywhere." Although this saint says by no means what the followers of the Vatican would make out, yet even granting their interpretation, we reply: Who denies that the ancient Roman Church was Apostolic and Orthodox? None of us will question that it was a model of orthodoxy. We will specially add, for its greater praise, from the historian Sozomen (Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. cap. 12), the passage, which his Holiness has overlooked, respecting the mode by which for a time she was enabled to preserve the orthodoxy which we praise:—"For, as everywhere," saith Sozomen, "the Church throughout the West, being guided purely by the doctrines of the Fathers, was delivered from contention and deception concerning these things." Would any of the Fathers or ourselves deny her canonical privilege in the rank of the hierarchy, so long as she was guided purely by the doctrines of the Fathers, walking by the plain rule of Scripture and the holy Synods! But at present we do not find preserved in her the dogma of the Blessed Trinity according to the Creed of the holy Fathers assembled first in Nicea and afterwards in Constantinople, which the other five Ecumenical Councils confessed and confirmed with such anathemas on those who adulterated it in the smallest particular, as if they had thereby destroyed it. Nor do we find the Apostolical pattern of holy Baptism, nor the Invocation of the consecrating Spirit upon the holy elements: but we see in that Church the eucharistic Cup, heavenly drink, considered superfluous, (what profanity!) and very many other things, unknown not only to our holy Fathers, who were always entitled the catholic, clear rule and index of Orthodoxy, as his Holiness, revering the truth, himself teaches (p. vi), but also unknown to the ancient holy Fathers of the West. We see that very primacy, for which his Holiness now contends with all his might, as did his predecessors, transformed from a brotherly character and hierarchical privilege into a lordly superiority. What then is to be thought of his unwritten traditions, if the written have undergone such a change and alteration for the worse ? Who is so bold and confident in the dignity of the Apostolic Throne, as to dare to say that if our holy Father, Sr. Irenaeus, were alive again, seeing it was fallen from the ancient and primitive teaching in so many most essential and catholic articles of Christianity, he would not be himself the first to oppose the novelties and self-sufficient constitutions of that Church which was lauded by him as guided purely by the doctrines of the Fathers? For instance, when he saw the Roman Church not only rejecting from her Liturgical Canon, according to the suggestion of the Schoolmen, the very ancient and Apostolic invocation of the Consecrating Spirit, and miserably mutilating the Sacrifice in its most essential part, but also urgently hastening to cut it out from the Liturgies of other Christian Communions also,—his Holiness slanderously asserting, in a manner so unworthy of the Apostolic Throne on which he boasts himself, that it "crept in after t.he division between the East and West" (p. xi. 1.11)—what would not the holy Father say respecting this novelty ? Irenaeus assures us (lib. iv. c. 34) "that bread, from the ground, receiving the evocation of God, is no longer common bread," etc., meaning by "evocation" invocation: for that Irenaeus believed the Mystery of the Sacrifice to be consecrated by means of this invocation is especially remarked even by Franciscus Feu-Ardentius, of the order of popish monks called Minorites, who in 1639 edited the writings of that saint with comments, who says (lib. i. c. 18, p. 114,) that Irenaeus teaches "that the bread and mixed cup become the true Body and Blood of Christ by the words of invocation." Or, hearing of the vicarial and appellate jurisdiction of the Pope, what would not the Saint say, who, for a small and almost indifferent question concerning the celebration of Easter (Euseb. Eccl. Hist. v. 26), so boldly and victoriously opposed and defeated the violence of Pope Victor in the free Church of Christ? Thus he who is cited by his Holiness as a witness of the primacy of the Roman Church, shows that its dignity is not that of a lordship, nor even appellate, to which St. Peter himself was never ordained, but is a brotherly privilege in the Catholic Church, and an honor assigned the Popes on account of the greatness and privilege of the City. Thus, also, the fourth Ecumenical Council, for the preservation of the gradation in rank of Churches canonically established by the third Ecumenical Council (Canon 8),—following the second (Canon 3), as that again followed the first (Canon 6), which called the appellate jurisdiction of the Pope over the West a Custom,—thus uttered its determination: "On account of that City being the Imperial City, the Fathers have with reason given it prerogatives" (Canon 28). Here is nothing said of the Pope's special monopoly of the Apostolicity of St. Peter, still less of a vicarship in Rome's Bishops, and an universal Pastorate. This deep silence in regard to such great privileges—nor only so, but the reason assigned for the primacy, not "Feed my sheep," not "On this rock will I build my Church," but simply old Custom, and the City being the Imperial City; and these things, not from the LORD, but from the Fathers—will seem, we are sure, a great paradox to his Holiness entertaining other ideas of his prerogatives. The paradox will be the greater, since, as we shall see, he greatly honors the said fourth Ecumenical Synod as one to be found a witness for his Throne; and St. Gregory, the eloquent, called the Great (lib. i. Ep. 25), was wont to speak of the four (Ecumenical Councils [not the Roman See] as the four Gospels, and the four-sided stone on which the Catholic Church is built.
14. His Holiness says (p. ix. 1.12) that the Corinthians, divided among themselves, referred the matter to Clement, Pope of Rome, who wrote to them his decision on the case; and they so prized his decision that they read it in the Churches. But this event is a very weak support for the Papal authority in the house of God. For Rome being then the center of the Imperial Province and the chief City, in which the Emperors lived, it was proper that any question of importance, as history shows that of the Corinthians to have been, should be decided there, especially if one of the contending parties ran thither for external aid: as is done even to this day. The Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, when unexpected points of difficulty arise, write to the Patriarch of Constantinople, because of its being the seat of Empire, as also on account of its synodical privileges; and if this brotherly aid shall rectify that which should be rectified, it is well; but if not, the matter is reported to the province, according to the established system. But this brotherly agreement in Christian faith is not purchased by the servitude of the Churches of God. Let this be our answer also to the examples of a fraternal and proper championship of the privileges of Julius and Innocent Bishops of Rome, by St. Athanasius the Great and St. John Chrysostom, referred to by his Holiness (p. ix. 1. 6,17), for which their successors now seek to recompense us by adulterating the divine Creed. Yet was Julius himself indignant against some for " disturbing the Churches by not maintaining the doctrines of Nice" (Soz. Hist. Ec. lib. iii. c. 7), and threatening (id.) excommunication, "if they ceased not their innovations." In the case of the Corinthians, moreover, it is to be remarked that the Patriarchal Thrones being then but three, Rome was the nearer and more accessible to the Corinthians, to which, therefore, it was proper to have resort. In all this we see nothing extraordinary, nor any proof of the despotic power of the Pope in the free Church of God.
15. But, finally, his Holiness says (p. ix. l.12) that the fourth Ecumenical Council (which by mistake he quite transfers from Chalcedon to Carthage), when it read the epistle of Pope Leo I, cried out, "Peter has thus spoken by Leo." It was so indeed. But his Holiness ought not to overlook how, and after what examination, our fathers cried out, as they did, in praise of Leo. Since however his Holiness, consulting brevity, appears to have omitted this most necessary point, and the manifest proof that an Ecumenical Council is not only above the Pope but above any Council of his, we will explain to the public the matter as it really happened. Of more than six hundred fathers assembled in the Counci1 of Chalcedon, about two hundred of the wisest were appointed by the Council to examine both as to language and sense the said epistle of Leo; nor only so, but to give in writing and with their signatures their own judgment upon it, whether it were orthodox or not. These, about two hundred judgments and resolution on the epistle, as chiefly found in the Fourth Session of the said holy Council in such terms as the following:—"Maximus of Antioch in Syria said: 'The epistle of the holy Leo, Archbishop of Imperial Rome, agrees with the decisions of the three hundred and eighteen holy fathers at Nice, and the hundred and fifty at Constantinople, which is new Rome, and with the faith expounded at Ephesus by the most holy Bishop Cyril: and I have subscribed it."
"Theodoret,the most religious Bishop of Cyrus: 'The epistle of the most holy Archbishop, the lord Leo, agrees with the faith established at Nice by the holy and blessed fathers, and with the symbol of faith expounded at Constantinople by the hundred and fifty, and with the epistles of the blessed Cyril. And accepting it, I have subscribed the said epistle."'
And thus all in succession: "The epistle corresponds," "the epistle is consonant,"the epistle agrees in sense," and the like. After such great and very severe scrutiny in comparing it with former holy Councils, and a full conviction of the correctness of the meaning, and not merely because it was the epistle of the Pope, they cried aloud, ungrudgingly, the exclamation on which his Holiness now vaunts himself: But if his Holiness had sent us statements concordant and in unison with the seven holy Ecumenical Councils, instead of boasting of the piety of his predecessors lauded by our predecessors and fathers in an Ecumenical Council, he might justly have gloried in his own orthodoxy, declaring his own goodness instead of that of his fathers. Therefore let his Holiness be assured, that if, even now, he will write us such things as two hundred fathers on investigation and inquiry shall find consonant and agreeing with the said former Councils, then, we say, he shall hear from us sinners today, not only, "Peter has so spoken," or anything of like honor, but this also, "Let the holy hand be kissed which has wiped away the tears of the Catholic Church."
16. And surely we have a right to expect from the prudent forethought of his Holiness, a work so worthy the true successor of St. Peter, of Leo I, and also of Leo III, who for security of the orthodox faith engraved the divine Creed unaltered upon imperishable plates—a work which will unite the churches of the West to the holy Catholic Church, in which the canonical chief seat of his Holiness, and the seats of all the Bishops of the West remain empty and ready to be occupied. For the Catholic Church, awaiting the conversion of the shepherds who have fallen off from her with their flocks, does not separate in name only, those who have been privily introduced to the rulership by the action of others, thus making little of the Priesthood. But we are expecting the "word of consolation," and hope that he, as wrote St. Basil to St.Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (Epis. b6), will "tread again the ancient footprints of the fathers." Not without great astonishment have we read the said Encyclical letter to the Easterns, in which we see with deep grief of soul his Holiness, famed for prudence, speaking like his predecessors in schism, words that urge upon us the adulteration of our pure holy Creed, on which the Ecumenical Councils have set their seal; and doing violence to the sacred Liturgies, whose heavenly structure alone, and the names of those who framed them, and their tone of reverend antiquity, and the stamp that was placed upon them by the Seventh Ecumenical Synod (Act vi.), should have paralyzed him, and made him to turn aside the sacrilegious and all-daring hand that has thus smitten the King of Glory. From these things we estimate into what an unspeakable labyrinth of wrong and incorrigible sin of revolution the papacy has thrown even the wiser and more godly Bishops of the Roman Church, so that, in order to preserve the innocent, and therefore valued vicarial dignity, as well as the despotic primacy and the things depending upon it, they know no other means shall to insult the most divine and sacred things, daring everything for that one end. Clothing themselves, in words, with pious reverence for "the most venerable antiquity" (p. xi. 1.16), in reality there remains, within, the innovating temper; and yet his Holiness really hears hard upon himself when he says that we "must cast from us everything that has crept in among us since the Separation," (!) while he and his have spread the poison of their innovation even into the Supper of our LORD. His Holiness evidently takes it for granted that in the Orthodox Church the same thing has happened which he is conscious has happened in the Church of Rome since the rise of the Papacy: to wit, a sweeping change in all the Mysteries, and corruption from scholastic subtleties, a reliance on which must suffice as an equivalent for our sacred Liturgies and Mysteries and doctrines: yet all the while, forsooth, reverencing our "venerable antiquity," and all this by a condescension entirely Apostolic!—"without," as he says, "troubling us by any harsh conditions"! From such ignorance of the Apostolic and Catholic food on which we live emanates another sententious declaration of his (p. vii. 1. 22): "It is not possible that unity of doctrine and sacred observance should be preserved among you," paradoxically ascribing to us the very misfortune from which he suffers at home; just as Pope Leo IX wrote to the blessed Michael Cerularius, accusing the Greeks of changing the Creed of the Catholic Church, without blushing either for his own honor or for the truth of history. We are persuaded that if his Holiness will call to mind ecclesiastical archaeology and history, the doctrine of the holy Fathers and the old Liturgies of France and Spain, and the Sacramentary of the ancient Roman Church, he will be struck with surprise on finding how many other monstrous daughters, now living, the Papacy has brought forth in the West: while Orthodoxy, with us, has preserved the Catholic Church as an incorruptible bride for her Bridegroom, although we have no temporal power, nor, as his Holiness says, any sacred "observances," but by the sole tie of love and affection to a common Mother are bound together in the unity of a faith sealed with the seven seals of the Spirit (Rev. v. 1), and by the seven Ecumenical Councils, and in obedience to the Truth. He will find, also, flow many modern papistical doctrines and mysteries must be rejected as "commandments of men" in order that the Church of the West, which has introduced all sorts of novelties, may be changed back again to the immutable Catholic Orthodox faith of our common fathers. As his Holiness recognizes our common zeal in this faith, when he says (p. viii. l.30), "let us take heed to the doctrine preserved by our forefathers," so he does well in instructing us (l. 31) to follow the old pontiffs and the faithful of the Eastern Metropolitans. What these thought of the doctrinal fidelity of the Archbishops of the elder Rome, and what idea we ought to have of them in the Orthodox Church, and in what manner we ought to receive their teachings, they have synodically given us an example ( 15), and the sublime Basil has well interpreted it ( 7). As to the supremacy, since we are not setting forth a treatise, let the same great Basil present the matter in a f'ew words, "I preferred to address myself to Him who is Head over them."
17. From all this, every one nourished in sound Catholic doctrine, particularly his Holiness, must draw the conclusion, how impious and anti-synodical it is to attempt the alteration of our doctrine and liturgies and other divine offices which are, and are proved to be, coeval with the preaching of Christianity: for which reason reverence was always bestowed on then, and they were confided in as pure even by the old orthodox Popes themselves, to whom these things were an inheritance in common with ourselves. How becoming and holy would be the mending of the innovations, the time of whose entrance in the Church of Rome we know in each case; for our illustrious fathers have testified from time to time against each novelty. But there are other reasons which should incline his Holiness to this change. First, because those things that are ours were once venerable to the Westerns, as having the same divine Offices and confessing the same Creed; but the novelties were not known to our Fathers, nor could they be shown in the writings of the orthodox Western Fathers, nor as having their origin either in antiquity or catholicity. Moreover, neither Patriarchs nor Councils could then have introduced novelties amongst us, because the protector of religion is the very body of the Church, even the people themselves, who desire their religious worship to be ever unchanged and of the same kind as that of their fathers: for as, after the Schism, many of the Popes and Latinizing Patriarchs made attempts that came to nothing even in the Western Church; and as, from time to time, either by fair means or foul, the Popes have commanded novelties for the sake of expediency (as they have explained to our f'athers, although they were thus dismembering the Body of Christ): so now again the Pope, for the sake of a truly divine and most just expediency, forsooth (not mending the nets, but himself rending the garment of the Savior), dare to oppose the venerable things of antiquity,—things well fitted to preserve religion, as his Holiness confesses (p. xi. l.16), and which he himself honors, as he says (lb. 1.16), together with his predecessors, for he repeats that memorable expression o one of those blessed predecessors (Celestine, writing to the third Ecumenical Council): "Let novelty cease to attack antiquity." And let the Catholic Church enjoy this benefit from this so far blameless declaration of the Popes. It must by all means be confessed, that in such his attempt, even though Pius IX be eminent for wisdom and piety, and, as he says, for zeal after Christian unity in the Catholic Church, he will meet, within and without, with difficulties and toils. And here we must put his Holiness in mind, if he will excuse our boldness, of that portion of his letter (p. viii. L.32), "That in things which relate to the confession of our divine religion, nothing is to be feared, when we look to the glory of Christ, and the reward which awaits us in eternal life." It is incumbent on his Holiness to show before God and man, that, as prime mover of the counsel which pleases God, so is he a willing protector of the ill-treated evangelical and synodical truth, even to the sacrifice of his own interests, according to the Prophet (Is. lx. 17), A ruler in peace and a bishop in righteousness. So be it! But until there be this desired returning of the apostate Churches to the body of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of which Christ is the Head (Eph. iv. 15), and each of us "members in particular," all advice proceeding from them, and every officious exhortation tending to the dissolution of our pure faith handed down from the Fathers is condemned, as it ought to be, synodically, not only as suspicious and to be eschewed, but as impious and soul-destroying: and in this category, among the first we place the said Encyclical to the Easterns from Pope Pius IX, Bishop of the elder Rome; and such we proclaim it to be in the Catholic Church.
18. Wherefore, beloved brethren and fellow-ministers of our mediocrity, as always, so also now, particularly on this occasion of the publication of the said Encyclical, we hold it to be our inexorable duty, in accordance with our patriarchal and synodical responsibility, in order that none may be lost to the divine fold of the Catholic Orthodox Church, the most holy Mother of us all, to encourage each other, and to urge you that, reminding one another of the words and exhortations of St. Paul to our holy predecessors when he summoned them to Ephesus, we reiterate to each other: take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own Blood. For know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore,watch. (Acts xx.28-31.) Then our predecessors and Fathers, hearing this divine charge, wept sore, and falling upon his neck, kissed him. Come, then, and let us, brethren, hearing him admonishing us with tears, fall in spirit, lamenting, upon his neck, and, kissing him, comfort him by our own firm assurance, that no one shall separate us from the love of Christ, no one mislead us from evangelical doctrine, no one entice us from the safe path of our fathers, as none was able to deceive them, by any degree of zeal which they manifested, who from time to time were raised up for this purpose by the tempter: so that at last we shall hear from the Master: Well done, good and faithful servant, receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls, and of the reasonable flock over whom the Holy Ghost has made us shepherds.
19. This Apostolic charge and exhortation we have quoted for your sake, and address it to all the Orthodox congregation, wherever they be found settled on the earth, to the Priests and Abbots, to the Deacons and Monks, in a word, to all the Clergy and godly People, the rulers and the ruled, the rich and the poor, to parents and children, to teachers and scholars, to the educated and uneducated, to masters and servants, that we all, supporting and counseling each other, may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For thus St. Peter the Apostle exhorts us (1 Pet.): Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist, steadfast in the faith.
20. For our faith, brethren, is not of men nor by man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ, which the divine Apostles preached, the holy Ecumenical Councils confirmed, the greatest and wisest teachers of the world handed down in succession, and the shed blood of the holy martyrs ratified. Let us hold fast to the confession which we have received unadulterated from such men, turning away from every novelty as a suggestion of the devil. He that accepts a novelty reproaches with deficiency the preached Orthodox Faith. But that Faith has long ago been sealed in completeness, not to admit of diminution or increase, or any change whatever; and he who dares to do, or advise, or think of such a thing has already denied the faith of Christ, has already of his own accord been struck with an eternal anathema, for blaspheming the Holy Ghost as not having spoken fully in the Scriptures and through the Ecumenical Councils. This fearful anathema, brethren and sons beloved in Christ, we do not pronounce today, but our Savior first pronounced it (Matt. xii. 32): Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. St. Paul pronounced the same anathema (Gal. i. 6): I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another Gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. This same anathema the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the whole choir of God-serving fathers pronounced. All, therefore, innovating, either by heresy or schism, have voluntarily clothed themselves, according to the Psalm (cix. 18), ("with a curse as with a garment,") whether they be Popes, or Patriarchs, or Clergy, or Laity; nay, if any one, though an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Thus our wise fathers, obedient to the soul-saving words of St. Paul, were established firm and steadfast in the faith handed down unbrokenly to them, and preserved it unchanged and uncontaminate in the midst of so many heresies, and have delivered it to us pure and undefiled, as it came pure from the mouth of the first servants of the Word. Let us, too, thus wise, transmit it, pure as we have received it, to coming generations, altering nothing, that they may be, as we are, full of confidence, and with nothing to be ashamed of when speaking of the faith of their forefathers.
21. Therefore, brethren, and sons beloved in the LORD, having purified your souls in obeying the truth (1 Pet. i. 22), let us give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. (Heb. ii. 1.) The faith and confession we have received is not one to be ashamed of, being taught in the Gospel from the mouth of our LORD, witnessed by the holy Apostles, by the seven sacred Ecumenical Councils, preached throughout the world, witnessed to by its very enemies, who, before they apostatized from orthodoxy to heresies, themselves held this same faith, or at least their fathers and fathers' fathers thus held it. It is witnessed to by continuous history, as triumphing over all the heresies which have persecuted or now persecute it, as ye see even to this day. The succession of our holy divine fathers and predecessors beginning from the Apostles, and those whom the Apostles appointed their successors, to this day, forming one unbroken chain, and joining hand to hand, keep fast the sacred inclosure of which the door is Christ, in which all the orthodox Flock is fed in the fertile pastures of the mystical Eden, and not in the pathless and rugged wilderness, as his Holiness supposes (p. 7.1.12). Our Church holds the infallible and genuine deposit of the Holy Scriptures, of the Old Testament a true and perfect version, of the New the divine original itself. The rites of the sacred Mysteries, and especially those of the divine Liturgy, are the same glorious and heartquickening rites, handed down from the Apostles. No nation, no Christian communion, can boast of such Liturgies as those of James, Basil, Chrysostom. The august Ecumenical Councils, those seven pillars of the house of Wisdom, were organized in it and among us. This, our Church, holds the originals of their sacred definitions. The Chief Pastors in it, and the honorable Presbytery, and the monastic Order, preserve the primitive and pure dignity of the first ages of Christianity, in opinions, in polity, and even in the simplicity of their vestments. Yes! verily, "grievous wolves" have constantly attacked this holy fold, and are attacking it now, as we see for ourselves, according to the prediction of the Apostle, which shows that the true lambs of the great Shepherd are folded in it; but that Church has sung and shall sing forever: " They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them (Ps. cxviii. l1). Let us add one reflection, a painful one indeed, but useful in order to manifest and confirm the truth of our words:—All Christian nations whatsoever that are today seen calling upon the Name of Christ (not excepting either the West generally, or Rome herself, as we prove by the catalogue of her earliest Popes), were taught the true faith in Christ by our holy predecessors and fathers; and yet afterwards deceitful men, many of whom were shepherds, and chief shepherds too, of those nations, by wretched sophistries and heretical opinions dared to defile, alas! the orthodoxy of those nations, as veracious history informs us, and as St. Paul predicted.
22. Therefore, brethren, and ye our spiritual children, we acknowledge how great the favor and grace which God has bestowed upon our Orthodox Faith, and on His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, which, like a mother who is unsuspected of her husband, nourishes us as children of whom she is not ashamed, and who are excusable in our high-toned boldness concerning the hope that is in us. But what shall we sinners render to the LORD for all that He hath bestowed upon us? Our bounteous LORD and God, who hath redeemed us by his own Blood, requires nothing else of us but the devotion of our whole soul and heart to the blameless, holy faith of our fathers, and love and affection to the Orthodox Church, which has regenerated us not with a novel sprinkling, but with the divine washing of Apostolic Baptism. She it is that nourishes us, according to the eternal covenant of our Savior, with His own precious Body, and abundantly, as a true Mother, gives us to drink of that precious Blood poured out for us and for the salvation of the world. Let us then encompass her in spirit, as the young their parent bird, wherever on earth we find ourselves, in the north or south, or east, or west. Let us fix our our eyes and thoughts upon her divine countenance and her most glorious beauty. Let us take hold with both our hands on her shining robe which the Bridegroom, "altogether lovely," has with His own undefiled hands thrown around her, when He redeemed her from the bondage of error, and adorned her as an eternal Bride for Himself. Let us feel in our own souls the mutual grief of the children-loving mother and the mother-loving children, when it is seen that men of wolfish minds and making gain of souls are zealous in plotting how they may lead her captive, or tear the lambs from their mothers. Let us, Clergy as well as Laity, cherish this feeling most intensely now, when the unseen adversary of our salvation, combining his fraudful arts (p. xi. 1. 2-25), employs such powerful instrumentalities, and walketh about everywhere, as saith St. Peter, seeking whom he may devour; and when in this way, in which we walk peacefully and innocently, he sets his deceitful snares.
23. Now, the God of peace, "that brought again from the dead that great Shepherd of the sheep," "He that keepeth Israel," who "shall neither slumber nor sleep," "keep your hearts and minds," "and direct your ways to every good work."
Peace and joy be with you in the LORD.
May, 1848, Indiction 6.
+ ANTHIMOS, by the Mercy of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, new Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, a beloved brother in Christ our God, and suppliant.
+ HIEROTHEUS, by the Mercy of God, Patriarch of Alexandria and of all Egypt, a beloved brother in Christ our God, and suppliant.
+ METHODIOS, by the Mercy of God, Patriarch of the great City of God, Antioch, and of all Anatolia, a beloved brother in Christ our God, and suppliant.
+ CYRIL, by the Mercy of God, Patriarch of Jerusalem and of all Palestine, a beloved brother in Christ our God, and suppliant.
The Holy Synod in Constantinople:
+ PAISIUS OF CAESAREA
+ ANTHIMUS OF EPHESUS
+ DIONYSIUS OF HERACLEA
+ JOACHIM OF CYZICUS
+ DIONYSIUS OF NICODEMIA
+ HIEROTHEUS OF CHALCEDON
+ NEOPHYTUS OF DERCI
+ GERASIMUS OF ADRIANOPLE
+ CYRIL OF NEOCAESAREA
+ THEOCLETUS OF BEREA
+ MELETIUS OF PISIDIA
+ ATHANASIUS OF SMYRNA
+ DIONYSIUS OF MELENICUS
+ PAISIUS OF SOPHIA
+ DANIEL OF LEMNOS
+ PANTELEIMON OF DEYINOPOLIS
+ JOSEPH OF ERSECIUM
+ ANTHIMUS OF BODENI
The Holy Synod in Antioch:
+ ZACHARIAS OF ARCADIA
+ METHODIOS OF EMESA
+ JOANNICIUS OF TRIPOLIS
+ ARTEMIUS OF LAODICEA
The Holy Synod in Jerusalem:
+ MELETIUS OF PETRA
+ DIONYSIUS OF BETHLEHEM
+ PHILEMON OF GAZA
+ SAMUEL OF NEAPOLIS
+ THADDEUS OF SEBASTE
+ JOANNICIUS OF PHILADELPHIA
+ HIEROTHEUS OF TABOR
Letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
Holy Community, Holy Mountain Athos Karyes, 30 December 2006 Protocol Number 2/7/2310 The recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the occasion of that Throne's feast-day celebration of Saint Andrew (30th November 2006) and thereafter the visit by His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos to the Vatican on (14th December 2006) provoked a variety of impressions, evaluations and reactions. We shall skip those things that the secular Press had evaluated as positive or negative, to focus on those things that pertain to our salvation, for whose sake we came out from the world to live in the wilderness of the Holy Mountain. As Monks of the Holy Mountain, we respect the Ecumenical Patriarchate, under whose canonical jurisdiction we belong. We honor and venerate His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and we rejoice in all that he has achieved and so labored for, in a Godly manner, for the Church. We especially commemorate his solid and untiring defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, amid the many unfavorable conditions that exist, as well as his support for impoverished local Orthodox Churches and the care that is taken to spread the message of the Orthodox Church throughout the world. Furthermore, we the Monks of the Holy Mountain honor the Most Holy Church of Greece, from which most of us grew up in, and we respect His Beatitude the Primate. However, the events that took place during the recent visits of the Pope to Patriarchate and of His Beatitude the Archbishop to the Vatican evoked deep sorrow in our hearts. We desire and we struggle through our way of life to safeguard the trust willed to us by the Holy Fathers, which was bequeathed to us by the holy Founders of our Sacred Monasteries and the blessed reposed fathers who have gone before us. We strive to the best of our ability to live the mystery of the Church and the unblemished Orthodox Faith, according to what we are daily taught by the divine Services, the sacred readings, and the teachings in general of the Holy Fathers which are set out in their writings and in the decisions of the Ecumenical Synods. We safeguard our dogmatic conscience "like the apple of our eye", and we build on it, by applying ourselves to God-pleasing labors and the meticulous study of the achievements of the holy Confessor Fathers when they struggled against the miscellaneous heresies, and especially of our father among the saints, Gregory of Palamas, the Holy Martyrs of the Holy Mountain and the Holy Martyr Kosmas the First, whose sacred relics we kiss with every honor and whose sacred memory we celebrate. We are afraid to remain silent, whenever issues arise that pertain to the trust that our Fathers left us. Our responsibility, towards the most venerable fathers and brothers of the overall brotherhood of the Holy Mountain and towards the pious faithful of the Church who regard Athonite Monasticism as their non-negotiable guardian of sacred Tradition, weighs heavily upon our conscience, The visits of the Pope at the Patriarchate and the Archbishop's visit at the Vatican may have secured certain benefits of a secular nature, however, during those visits, various other events took place which were not according to the lawful custom of Orthodox Ecclesiology, or agreed commitments were made that would neither benefit the Orthodox Church, nor any heterodox Christians. First of all, the Pope was received as though he were a canonical (proper) bishop of Rome. During the service, the Pope wore an omophorion; he was addressed by the Ecumenical Patriarch with the greeting "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord" as though it were Christ the Lord; he blessed the congregation and he was commemorated as "Most Holy" and "His Beatitude the Bishop of Rome". Furthermore, the Pope's presiding on the Bishop's Throne while wearing an omophorion during the Orthodox Divine Liturgy; also, the reciting of the "Lord's Prayer", the liturgical kiss with the Patriarch, are displays which go beyond simple common prayer. And all of this, when the papist institution has not retreated at all on any of its heretical teachings and its policy; on the contrary, the Pope is in fact visibly promoting and trying to reinforce Uniates along with the Papist dogmas on primacy and infallibility, and is going even further, with inter-faith common prayers and the pan-religious hegemony of the Pope of Rome that is discerned therein. As regards with the reception of the Pope at the Patriarchate, we are especially grieved by the fact that all of the media kept repeating the same, incorrect information, that the hymns that were (unduly) sung at the time had been composed by Monks of the Holy Mountain. We take this opportunity to responsibly inform all pious Christians that their composer was not, and could never be, a monk of the Holy Mountain. Then there is the matter of the attempt by His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens to commence relations with the Vatican on social, cultural and bio-ethical issues, as well as the objective to mutually defend the Christian roots of Europe (positions which are also found in the Common Declaration of the Pope and the Patriarch of Istanbul), both of which may seem innocuous or even positive, given that their aim is to cultivate peaceful human relations. Nevertheless, it is important that all these do not give the impression that the West and Orthodoxy continue to have the same bases, or lead one into forgetting the distance that separates the Orthodox Tradition from that which is usually presented as the "European spirit". (Western) Europe is burdened with a series of anti-Christian institutions and acts, such as the Crusades, the "Holy" Inquisition, slave trading and colonization. It is burdened with the tragic division which took on the form of the schism of Protestantism; the devastating world wars, also the man-centered humanism and its atheist view. All of these are the consequence of Rome's theological deviations from Orthodoxy. One after the other, the Papist and the Protestant heresies gradually removed the humble Christ of Orthodoxy and in His place, they enthroned haughty Man. The holy bishop Nicholas of Ochrid and Zitsa wrote the following from Dachau: ®What, then, is Europe? The Pope and Luther.... This is what Europe is, at its core, ontologically and historically¯. The blessed Elder Justin Popovitch supplements the above: ®The 2nd Vatican Synod comprises the rebirth of every kind of European humanism.... because the Synod persistently adhered to the dogma on the Pope's infallibility¯ and he surmises: ®Undoubtedly, the authorities and the powers of (western) European culture and civilization are Christ-expellers¯. This is why it is so important to project the humble morality of Orthodoxy and to support the truly Christian roots of the united Europe; the roots that Europe had during the first Christian centuries, during the time of the catacombs and of the seven holy Ecumenical Synods. It is advisable for Orthodoxy to not saddle itself with foreign sins, and furthermore, the impression should not be given to those who became de-Christianized in reaction to the sidetracking of Western-style Christianity, that Orthodoxy is related to it, thus failing to testify that it is the only authentic Faith in Christ, and the only hope of the peoples of Europe. The Roman Catholics are obviously attempting to disengage themselves from the decisions of their pursuant (and according to them, Ecumenical) Synods, which had legitimized the Filioque, the Primacy, the Infallibility, the secular authority of the Roman Pontiff, 'created Grace', the immaculate conception of the Holy Mother, and of the Uniates. Despite all these, we Orthodox continue the so-called traditional exchanges of visits, bestowing honors befitting an Orthodox Bishop on the Pope and totally disregarding a series of Sacred Canons which forbid common prayers, while the theological dialogue repeatedly flounders, and, after being dredged from the depths, it again sinks down. All indications lead to the conclusion that the Vatican is not orienting itself to discard its heretical teachings, but only to "re-interpret" them -- in other words, to veil them. Roman Catholic ecclesiology varies, from one Encyclical to the next; from the so-called "open" ecclesiology of the Encyclical ®Ut Unum Sint¯, to the ecclesiological exclusivity of the Encyclical ®Dominus Jesus¯. It should be noted that both of the aforementioned views are contrary to Orthodox Ecclesiology. Our conscience duty bound declares the holy Orthodox Church as the only One, Holy, Catholic (overall) and Apostolic Church, does not allow for the recognition of other, heterodox churches and confessions as "sister churches". "Sister Churches" are only the local Orthodox Churches of the same faith. No other homonymous reference to "sister churches" other than the Orthodox one is theologically permissible. The "Filioque" is promoted by the Roman Catholic side as yet another legal expression of the teaching regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, and theologically equivalent to the Orthodox teaching that procession is "only from the Father" -- a view that is unfortunately supported by some of our own theologians. Besides, the Pontiff is maintaining the Primacy as an inalienable privilege, as one can tell from the recent deletion of the title "Patriarch of the West" by the current Pope Benedict XVI; also from his reference to the worldwide mission of the Apostle Peter and his successors during his homily in the Patriarchal Temple, as well as from his also recent speech, which included the following: ®...within the society, with the Successors of the Apostles, whose visible unity is guaranteed by the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the Ukrainian Catholic Community managed to preserve the Sacred Tradition alive, in its integrity¯ (Catholic News, No.3046/18-4-2006). The Uniates are being reinforced and reassured in many and various ways, despite the proclamations by the Pope to the contrary. This dishonest stance is witnessed, apart from other instances, by the provocative intervention of the previous Pope, John-Paul II, which led the Orthodox-Roman Catholic dialogue in Baltimore into a disaster, as well as by the letter sent by the current Pope to the Cardinal Ljubomir Husar, the Uniate Archbishop of Ukraine. In this letter dated 22/2/2006, the following is emphatically stressed: ®It is imperative to secure the presence of the two great carriers of the only Tradition (the Latin and the Eastern).... The mission that the Greek Catholic Church has undertaken, being in full communion with the Successor of the Apostle Peter, is two-fold: on one side, it must visibly preserve the eastern Tradition inside the Catholic Church; on the other, it must favor the merging of the two traditions, testifying that they not only can coordinate between themselves, but that they also constitute a profound union amid their variety¯. Seen in this light, polite exchanges such as the visits of the Pope to Patriarchate (in Istanbul) and the Archbishop of Athens to the Vatican, without the prerequisite of a unity in the Faith, may on the one hand create the false impressions of unity and thus turn away the heterodox who could have looked towards Orthodoxy as being the true Church, and on the other hand, blunt the dogmatic sensor of many Orthodox. Even more, they may push some of the faithful and pious Orthodox, who are deeply concerned over what is taking place inopportunely and against the Sacred Canons, to detach themselves from the corpus of the Church and create new schisms. Thus, out of love for our Orthodoxy, but with pain as regards the unity of the Church, and with a view to preserve the Orthodox Faith free of all innovations, we proclaim in every direction that which was proclaimed by the Extraordinary, Double, Holy Assembly of our Sacred Community of the Holy Mountain on the 9th / 22nd of April 1980: We believe that our Holy Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, having the fullness of Grace and the Truth, and for this reason, an uninterrupted Apostolic Succession. On the contrary, the "churches" and the "confessions" of the West, having distorted the faith of the Gospel, the Apostles and the Fathers on many points, are deprived of the sanctifying Grace, the true Mysteries (Sacraments) and Apostolic Succession... Dialogues with the heterodox - if they are intended to inform them about the Orthodox Faith so that when they become receptive of divine enlightenment and their eyes are opened they might return to the Orthodox Faith -- are not condemned. In no way should a theological dialogue be accompanied by common prayers, participation in liturgical and worship assemblies, by either side and any other activities that might give the impression that our Orthodox Church acknowledges the Roman Catholics (or any Protestant confessions) as a complete Church and the Pope as a canonical (proper) Bishop of Rome. Such acts mislead the Orthodox as well as the Roman Catholic (or Protestant) faithful, who are given a false impression of what Orthodoxy thinks of them.... With the Grace of God, the Holy Mountain remains faithful - as do the Orthodox people of the Lord - to the Faith of the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers, and also out of love for the heterodox, who are essentially helped, when the Orthodox with their steadfast Orthodox stance point out the extent of their spiritual ailment and the way they can be cured. The failed attempts for union during the past teach us that for a permanent union, according to the will of God, within the Truth of the Church, the prerequisite is a different kind of preparation and course, than those which were followed in the past and appear to be followed to this day. By All the Representatives and Abbots of the common Assembly of the Twenty sacred monasteries of the Holy Mountain Athos. Monk Prodromos Gregoriates - Secretariat of the Sacred Community.
The Sign of the Cross
The Sign of the Cross is a ceremonial hand motion made by the vast majority of the world's Christians. It is usually accompanied with the trinitarian formula. For Christians, the motion symbolizes the Cross on Calvary by tracing the shape of the cross in the air or on one's own body. The four points can also signify loving God with all one's heart, soul, mind and strength. There are two particular arrangements one is most likely to observe. One is followed by many of the Eastern Churches, the other by Protestant, Latin and Monophysite heretics. Many professional athletes respect the sign of the cross and can often be seen doing it.
As one moves through the Sign, one recites, at the forehead, "Lord "; at the stomach, "Jesus Christ", on the right shoulder, "Son of God"; and on the left shoulder, "have mercy on us" followed by a bow(to the ground during great lent).
Joining two fingers together-the index and the middle finger-and extending them, with the middle finger slightly bent, represents the two natures of Christ: His Divinity and His Humanity. He is God according to His divinity and Man according to His hummanity, perfect in both natures. The index finger represents His divinity, while the middle finger repersents His hummanity, since He came down from on high and saved those below. The bending of the middle finger is interperted to mean that He bowed the heavens and came down upon the earth for our salvation.
And thus it proper to make the Sign of the Cross and to bless; thus was it laid down and ordained by the holy fathers; such is the power of the Sign of the Cross, with which we faithful sign ourselves when we pray, confessing sacramentally the Saviour's economy: His being begotten of God the Father before all creation; His decent to earth from on high; His Crucifixion; and His second coming, which is the sealing of His entire philanthropic dipensation concerning us.
The sign of the cross must be made according to the rules, in the form of a cross; and the right hand, that is, the dextral hand, must be used in crossing oneself, with the thumb and the two lower fingers joined together, and the extended index finger joined to the middle finger, slightly bent; thus should prelates [and] priests give their blessing and thus should men cross themselves. . . . It befits all Orthodox Christians to hold their hand thus, and to make the sign of the cross upon their face with two fingers, and to bow, as we said before. If anyone should fail to give his blessing with two fingers, as Christ did, or should fail to make the sign of the cross with two fingers, may he be accursed.. . ., Chapter 31 of The Council Of The Hundred Chapters.
Before Nikon the apostate in the 17th century, it was customary to make the sign of the cross with two fingers (symbolising the dual nature of Christ). The enforcement of the three-finger sign was one of the reasons for the schism with the Old Believers whose congregations continue to use the two-finger sign of the cross.
Today Nikonite heretics finish the sign of the cross by moving the hand to the left side, below the stomach, as opposed to the shoulder. They also frequently make the Sign two times in a row and then bow toward the church, icon, cross, or priest.
Use of the sign
In Eastern Orthodox prayers, the sign of the cross is usually made whenever all three persons of the Trinity are addressed, or even alluded to. Before commencing any prayer, in fact, the Sign is typically made. Upon entering a church, and the sanctuary within the church, one will make the Sign partly as an outward sign of reverence and veneration. Orthodox laymen will make the Sign as one way of venerating an icon; Priests have many more specific occasions upon which to make the Sign. Many members of the Faith will make the Sign in a way that may seem idiomatic to some: for example, if a member is exposed to blasphemy, he or she may make the Sign, partly to suggest subtly and politely to the speaker that an offense has been committed. Some members of the Faith will use the Sign in what almost appears to be a wish for luck; it may be that, or a part of an unsaid prayer for God's blessing, as when beginning a journey or a sports competition.
The Sign of the Cross has minor variants as well: it can be made in the air to bless objects, and it may trace a very small trajectory, such as on the forehead (as the earliest descriptions of the Sign suggest). For a member of the Faith, perhaps the essential element of the Sign is that it physically indicates the direct relevance of the Cross, of the Sacrifice of Jesus, to one's person or surroundings. It is an engagement of the body that affirms what the faithful professes. It is also a sign to others of what one professes.
Origins of the sign of the cross
The sign of the cross has been used since the days of the early Church both liturgically and at times as a marker of membership, a symbol of friendship of sorts, due to the persecution of early Christians. The first recorded reference to the Sign is found in the writings of Tertullian (c. 160-225 A.D.), who says that Christians "at every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table... in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign" (The Chaplet, 3). Other mentions of the sign of the cross and exhortations to perform it whenever possible abound in the Church Fathers.
It does seem clear, though, that the most common way of making the Sign was simply to mark one's forehead, not the entire upper body. The first written record of this enlargement can be seen in St Nino, the Apostle of Georgia, from the fourth or fifth century: "St. Nino began to pray and entreat God for a long time. Then she took her (wooden) cross and with it touched the Queen's head, her feet and her shoulders, making the sign of the cross and straightway she was cured" (Studia Biblica, V, 32)."
One way of explaining the extension of the Sign is to point out that after the Emperor Constantine's issuance of the Edict of Milan in 313, which made Christianity an officially legal religion, Christians were freer to cross themselves more emphatically and in a more open manner.
Another explanation of the enlarged scope of the sign of the cross is linked to the Monophysite heresy, condemned by the Council of Chalcedon, whose dogmas are not accepted by the Monophysite heretics . This theory speculates that: "The use of the thumb alone or the single forefinger, which so long as only a small cross was traced upon the forehead was almost inevitable, seems to have given way for symbolic reasons to the use of two fingers (the forefinger and middle finger, or thumb and forefinger) as typifying the two natures and two wills in Jesus Christ. But if two fingers were to be employed, the large cross, in which forehead, breast, etc. were merely touched, suggested itself as the only natural gesture. Indeed some large movement of the sort was required to make it perceptible that a man was using two fingers rather than one."
- Stoglov(One hundred Chapters) of 1551, CHAP. 31: The sign of the cross must be made according to the rules, in the form of a cross; and the right hand, that is, the dextral hand, must be used in crossing oneself, with the thumb and the two lower fingers joined together, and the extended index finger joined to the middle finger, slightly bent; thus should prelates [and] priests give their blessing and thus should men cross themselves. . . . It befits all Orthodox Christians to hold their hand thus, and to make the sign of the cross upon their face with two fingers, and to bow, as we said before. If anyone should fail to give his blessing with two fingers, as Christ did, or should fail to make the sign of the cross with two fingers, may he be accursed. . .
- The Psalter printed under the Patriarchate of Patriach Joseph of Moscow
- Blessed Theodoret
- Patriarch Germogen(Who was starved to death by Catholic authorities during the Polish invasion of Russia in 1612)
- Canon Six of the 318 holy Fathers("Let the ancient customs prevail, those of Egypt,…” )
- Archpriest Avvakum
- Timothy Ware
- The oldest icons confirm the correct practice.
- St. Anna Kashinsky
- The Book of Answers, by Barbara Berliner
- Saint Bede: “The antichrists, the heretics, though they invoke the name of Christ and make the sign of the Cross, they are nevertheless of the world; they savor worldly things” [Commentary on 1 John, 202]
- Shadow of Antichrist by David Scheffel
- On making the Sign of The Cross (Old Believers)
- Sign of the Cross (Old Believers)
- The Church Council of the Hundred Chapters(1551) (Old Believers)
- True Orthodox Polemics
- The Genuine Orthodox Church of America
- Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church (official site of the Moscow Metropoly)
- Old Believers in Karelia in the 17th century
- Old Believers in Estonia
- Russian Orthodox Old Rite Believers
- Orthodox Kellion of the Holy Trinity and Saint Sergius
- Old-Rite Yahoo! Group — Russia's Ancient Spiritual Heritage
- Old Rite ROCOR Church of the Nativity
- Old Ritualist Monks of the Old Rite in North Dakota
- Page Down to "Elena's Place" for an Interview with a Minnesota Old Believer
- Collection of Old Believer History and Tradition; Compiled by Paul J. Wigowsky.
- Old Believers in Modern Russia
- Old Belief in Omutninsk, Russia
- Old Believers in Alaska