Archive for the ‘St. Maximus the Confessor’ Tag

Feast of Theodore I (May 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  Pope Theodore I

Image in the Public Domain

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THEODORE I (DIED MAY 14, 649)

Bishop of Rome

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is one of my hobbies.  It is an extension of my Great Man and Woman understanding of history, as well as a long-running course in ecclesiastical history.  Many of the saints I have listed here come with “Venerable,” “Blessed,” or “Saint” formally preceding their names.  Others, however, do not, regardless of whether an official calendar (usually Anglican or Lutheran) lists them.  Many saints I have listed on my Ecumenical Calendar are people I insist belong on formal calendars, although they are absent from any such calendar.

Consider Pope Theodore I, for example, O reader.

The heresy of Monothelitism (that Christ had only one will–divine) was a major controversy in the Byzantine Empire.  Church and state were one in the Byzantine Empire; no line separated theological dispute from imperial policy.  Emperor Heraclius (reigned 610-641) issued the Ecthesis in 638.  This document affirmed Monothelitism.  Pope Severinus (May 28, 640-August 2, 640) and his immediate successor, John IV (December 24, 640-October 12, 642), opposed the heresy and the Ecthesis.  Shortly prior to his death in 641, Heraclius disavowed Monothelitism.  Yet the Ecthesis remained in effect as the reign of Constans II (641-668) began.

Above:  600 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

The Byzantine Empire was unstable.  The recent war with the Persians had resulted in a pyrrhic victory; the Byzantine Empire was almost bankrupt.  Two emperors reigned Between the death of Heraclius and the accession of Constans II.  Heraclius had designated his two sons, Constantine III and Heraklonas, as his successors.  Constantine III was dying of tuberculosis when he began his reign, which lasted for three months.  Heraklonas was fifteen years old and under the political domination of his mother, Martina.  After six months, General Valentine and a mob deposed Heraklonas and Martina.  Valentine installed Constans II, the eleven-year-old son of Constantine III, as the next emperor.  Valentine married his daughter to the the young emperor and ruled as the regent for two years.  Then a mob lynched the regent.  Constans II began to rule at the tender age of thirteen years.  Meanwhile, Arab conquests and internal rebellions continued.

Above:  750 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

Theodore I was the next Bishop of Rome.  He, born in Jerusalem, was a Greek, a son of a bishop, and a refugee from Arab invasions.  Theodore I was also an associate of St. Sophronius of Jerusalem (died circa 638), the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and an opponent of monothelitism.  St. Maximus the Confessor (circa 580-662), another opponent of Monothelitism, was another one of Theodore I’s associates.  Theodore I became the Pope on November 24, 642.

Almost immediately upon assuming office, Theodore I addressed the Monothelite heresy.  He wrote Constans II and Paul II, the Patriarch of Constantinople (reigned 641-643), to inquire why the Ecthesis remained in effect.  The new pope also refused to recognize Paul II as the legitimate Patriarch of Constantinople until after a synod at which the Holy See had a representative deposed the previous Patriarch, Pyrrhus I (reigned 638-641).  Furthermore, Theodore I demanded that Paul II repudiate Monothelitism and remove all publicly-posted copies of the Ecthesis.

Theodore I recognized Pyrrhus I as the rightful Patriarch of Constantinople in 645.  Pyrrhus I had renounced Monothelitism after a public debate with St. Maximus the Confessor that year.  The Pope also excommunicated Paul II, who had affirmed Monothelitism and the Ecthesis.  Then Pyrrhus I made peace with Constans II and Paul II by reaffirming Monothelitism.

Constans II understood that the Ecthesis of his grandfather had become a threat to imperial stability.  Therefore, he issued the Typos, a gag order regarding Monothelitism, in 648.  Theodore I on May 14, 649, before he could formulate a response.

One may assume safely, however, that Theodore I would have refused to obey the Typos.

The next Bishop of Rome was St. Martin I (died in 655), whom Constans II martyred for refusing to be quiet.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX, MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF ERNEST TRICE THOMPSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND RENEWER OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN AND HIS BROTHER, MICHAEL HAYDN, COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF TOULOUSE, CARMELITE NUN; AND SAINT SIMON STOCK, CARMELITE FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Theodore I of Rome.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Sts. Martin I and Maximus the Confessor (April 13)   2 comments

Above:  Agony in the Garden, by El Greco

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MARTIN I (DIED SEPTEMBER 16, 655)

Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 655

Alternative feast days = April 14 and November 12

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SAINT MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR (CIRCA 580-AUGUST 13, 662)

Monk, Abbot, and Martyr, 662

His feast transferred from January 21 and August 13

Christian doctrines developed over centuries, through much debate and a series of synods and ecumenical councils.  Some of the Church Fathers, such as St. Clement of Alexandria and Origen, were orthodox, by the standards of their time, but have become heretics post mortem and ex post facto.

The separation of church and state would have spared the lives of St. Martin I and St. Maximus the Confessor.

The heresy du jour was monothelitism, which taught that Jesus had only one will–divine.  Emperor Constans II (reigned 641-668), seeking to preserve the Roman (Byzantine) Empire against rising Arab/Islamic threats, did not content himself with sending military personnel to fight invaders.  In 648, he issued a decree banning the discussion of monothelitism.  Theology was political.

Think about monothelitism this way, O reader:  Consider Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Did he act as if he had only a divine will?

St. Martin I, a native of Todi, Tuscany, had been a deacon and a papal legate in Constantinople.  After Pope Theodore I (in office November 24, 642-May 14, 649) died, our saint won election to succeed him.

The newly-minted pope never received imperial approval.  Constans II always treated him an errant deacon.  St. Martin I immediately convened the Lateran synod of 649, in defiance of the imperial gag order, to condemn monothelitism as a heresy.  Then St. Martin I excommunicated Bishop Paul of Thessalonica for rejecting the decision of the Lateran synod.  The pope also sent a copy of the Lateran synod’s decision to Constans II and invited him to denounce monothelism.

St. Maximus the Confessor attended the Lateran synod of 649.  He, born circa 580, had been a public servant before entering monastic life at Phillippicus, across from Constantinople, in Asia Minor.  He had risen to the rank of abbot.  The Persian conquest of Anatolia had forced St. Maximus to flee to Carthage, where he studied under St. Sophronius (died circa 638), later the Patriarch of Jerusalem.  St. Maximus traveled widely.  He also wrote and spoke at length about theology and spirituality.  Monothelitism became one of his targets.

Constans II chose to order the arrest of St. Martin I, not to denounce monothelitism.  Olympius, the new exarch, carried orders to apprehend the pope then to send him to Constantinople.  The exarch became St. Martin I’s ally instead.  The pope and Olympius rebelled against the emperor; they felt pushed into committing insurrection.

The freedom of Sts. Martin I and Maximus the Confessor ended in the summer of 653.  Imperial forces arrested them in Rome on June 17.  Both men spent the rest of their lives as prisoners.

St. Martin I, accused of treason, received a death sentence in December 653.  Patriarch Paul II of Constantinople, near death, persuaded Constans II to reduce the sentence to exile.  St. Martin I’s health had been failing prior to his arrest.  It had deteriorated further in prison.  The combination of starvation and the cold weather in Crimea caused his death on September 16, 655.

St. Eugene I (in office August 10, 654-June 2, 657; feast day = June 2) was a conciliatory man who, for reasons I do not need to explain, did not want to alienate Constans II.  The new pope was ready to accept a vague statement that implied that Jesus had three wills, all for the purpose of conciliation.  On Pentecost 655, at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, outraged clergy and lay people prevented St. Eugene I from completing the Mass until he had promised to reject the compromise.  This angered Constans II, who threatened to treat St. Eugene I the same way he had treated St. Martin I.  However, border conflicts kept the emperor too busy to act on that threat before St. Eugene I died of natural causes.

The next pope, St. Vitalian (in office July 30, 657-January 27, 672), eventually found a diplomatic and political opening to insist that Jesus had only two wills and to get away with doing so.

St. Maximus spent 653-658 in prison and 658-662 in exile.  He insisted on his innocence on the charge of treason (insurrection) at his three trials (654, 658, and 662).  Our saint insisted that he played no part in the Islamic conquest of northern Africa.  He died in what is now Georgia in 662.  Constans II had ordered his tongue cut out and his right hand amputated so that the troublesome monk could no longer speak and write.

The situation improved in 668.  That year, after the murder of Constans II in Sicily, his son succeeded him as Constantine IV (reigned 668-685).  The new emperor permitted discussion of monothelitism.  The Third Council of Constantinople (681) declared monothelitism a heresy and proclaimed that Jesus had two wills.

National or imperial security does not justify treating people so badly over theological differences. One may rebut, however, that when St. Martin I came to trial, the formal charge was treason (insurrection), not any matter concerning doctrine.  I reply that Constans II had ordered the pope’s arrest before St. Martin I felt pushed into committing insurrection.  I insist that the emperor’s order to arrest the pope pushed St. Martin I into insurrection.  I accuse Constans II of having made the situation worse by issuing then trying to enforce the gag order.

Besides, insurrection against some potentates has been justifiable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE ELDER, SAINT NONNA, AND THEIR CHILDREN:  SAINTS GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER, CAESARIUS OF NAZIANZUS, AND GORGONIA OF NAZIANZUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FELIX VARELA, CUBAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND PATRIOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY TO THE SHOSHONE AND ARAPAHOE

THE FEAST OF KARL FRIEDRICH LOCHNER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THEODOR FLIEDNER, RENEWER OF THE FEMALE DIACONATE; AND ELIZABETH FEDDE, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN DEACONESS

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saint Martin I of Rome and Saint Maximus the Confessor

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with them the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 74

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