Thursday, December 31, 2009
Sylvester against Arianism
Today is the feast of Pope St Sylvester, during his pontificate the Council of Nicea met and the great Symbol of Nicea was proclaimed. I believe in God the Father Almighty
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit
was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
The Council of Nicea exalted the true doctrine of the Incarnation, the consubstantiality of Son and Father, thus Sylvester becomes in a sense the father of Christmas.
Most significantly it was the first major act in the defeat of Arian heresy, that vile deviation of Christianity which denied the full Divinity of Christ and therefore the full salvation of man. Christmas is the great anti-Arian feast it is not simply about what God has become but what man might become. All those Christmas aspirations, for the poor and needy, for peace, reconcilliation and goodwill on earth, are part of orthodox catholic belief. Scrooge was an Arian - discuss!
Sylvester also engineered the Epithany of the Church under the Emperor Constantine, while he was Pope the Church leapt out of the catacombs, the great basilicas of St John Lateran, of St Peter and of Holy Cross were built in Rome, again the building of these huge churches, lavish places for lavish worship, were I suspect anti-Arian.
His reign marked a radical change in both Empire and Church, the beginning of the age of the evangelisation of western Europe.
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