My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!
When we little, an occasional question that we may have asked, or that someone may have asked of us, would be what our parents did for a living. “What does your father do?” “What does your mother do?”
And in response, we might say, “My father is a policeman, an architect, a ditch-digger.” “My mother is a nurse, an office worker, a homemaker.” All of these things are possibilities. But see that our mind draws our response to say even more than simply what our mother or father does, but to say what they are. We identify their occupation – in some way – with their being. We identify what they do with who they are. “My father is a ditch-digger.” “My mother is a homemaker.” And even further than this, we also identify a person’s relationship with their being. Because of relationship, we say that someone is our father, someone is our mother. They don’t simply “have” fatherhood or motherhood directed towards us. Rather we see that this relationship of parent and child fundamentally affects the very being of those people. I think any parent with enough self-awareness could agree and would attest that becoming a parent has effected a most profound change in their own being. Thus, more rightly than any other occupation, when asked what one’s parents do, the answer is truly, “My father is my father. My mother is my mother.”
So it is also on this day. Occasionally throughout the year, our Mother, the Church, will set special remembrances or dedications before us on a Sunday, which will take precedence over the usual numbered Sundays after Pentecost. And here, in the middle of the month of October, we find a Sunday like this. This Sunday is set aside for the remembrance and the honour of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Second Council of Nicea, which Council condemned the abominable heresy of iconoclasm.
For, throughout history, the Church, and our fathers in the faith, do strive to pass on that which they have received: the faith, once delivered to the Apostles. This is what they do; this is what the Church calls us to remember this day. She asks all of us, her children, to pause, to reflect, to be grateful to our valiant fathers, those who under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost did declare, and define, and teach the Apostolic Faith, in the face of persecution and apostasy. You’d do well to read the acts and canons of the Council sometime soon in your studies.
But notice this: the Church does not simply say things to us, publish letters, make things known after the fashion of secular news providers. That’s not what she calls us to, that’s not how she teaches us, her children, today.
“What does your mother do? My mother is such-and-such an occupation.” Here? The Church is our Mother. What does our Mother do? She is a pray-er. She is a worshipper. She is a glorifier.
The Liturgy is what she does. She wishes us to learn of that Faith once delivered, that Faith held and proclaimed by the fathers. We learn best by watching what is done. We learn best by participating in what is done. We learn and we grow only, only, only by being with our Mother the Church in her worship of her Divine Bridegroom.
That is why the remembrance of the Fathers of the Council today is given a place within the Liturgy; so that in the midst of what the Church does, that she might teach her children that which is important.
For it is one thing simply to know, simply to say “yes” to the teachings of the Church. The devils can know that they are true. So what? The faith is not an intellectual exercise. The possession of all the so-called “truths of the faith,” without relationship – remember relationship from earlier? How it fundamentally changes the very being of the person?
The possession of all the so-called “truths of the faith,” without relationship to Christ, the Author of those truths, is no faith at all, no life at all. That necessary relationship is established only with and in Christ’s Immaculate Bride, the Church. And the Church incorporates us into her relationship with Christ only by what she does, and what she does is her Liturgy, her Liturgical prayer.
History bears this out. Where the Liturgy has ceased, the faith is invariably forgotten within a very short time. Even if a memory of the faith lingers, it is but that, a memory. And it soon becomes at the very best a parody, and the worst is simple apostasy.
On the other hand, even in times of the gravest persecution, when one – even if he or she is a simple solitary layperson – when that one person remains faithful to the Liturgical prayer of the Church, praying the hours, praying the Psalter, praying the Typica, joining their own hearts, their own minds, their own voices to the heart, the mind, and the voice of the Church as she does what she does and rightly worships and glorifies her Divine Spouse… there the Faith can be held. There the light of the Faith remains lit, even in the darkest of times.
This path is open to us all. Come! Come and see the profound difference made by relationship to the Church, effected by doing what she does, praying the Liturgical prayer of the Church. Then, truly, may we be children of the Immaculate Bride, then truly may we too be changed in our being, becoming children of the light.