For the Sunday of the Holy Fathers. If you have parishioners with disabilities, this will encourage them. What heroes of the faith!
…The General Council having thus received authority from the king, the fathers directed that there should be gradations in the assembly and that each Bishop should sit in his place according to his rank. Chairs were there made for all and the king entered and sat with them. He kissed the spots which were the marks of Christ in their bodies.
Of the 318 fathers, only 11 were free from such marks, whose name were Absalom, Bishop of Edessa, and son of Mar Ephrem’s sister, Jonah of Raikson, Mara of Dora, George of Shegar, Jacob of Nisibis, Marouta of Mepairkat, John of Goostia, Shimon of Diarbekir, Adai of Agal, Eusebius of Caesarea and Joseph of Nicomedia. But all the others were more or less maimed in their persecutions from heretics. Some had their eyes taken out; some had their ears cut off. Some had their teeth dug out by the roots. Some had the nails of their fingers and toes torn out; some were otherwise mutilated; in a word there was no one without marks of violence; save the above-named persons. But Thomas, Bishop of Marash was an object almost frightful to look upon; he had been mutilated by the removal of his eyes, nose and lips; his teeth had been dug out and both his legs and arms had been cut off. He had been kept in prison 22 years by the Armanites [Armenians] who used to cut off a member of his body or mutilate him in some way every year, to induce him to consent to their blasphemy, but he conquered in this fearful contest to the glory of believers and to the manifestation of the unmercifulness of the heretics. The fathers took him with them to the Council and when the king saw him, he fell down upon the ground and worshipped* him saying,
“I worship* thee, O thou martyr of Christ, who art adorned with many crowns.”
To describe the doings of the Council from the beginning to the end is a great task, for the fathers were in sessions three years engaged in discussions about every kind of heresy. Protracted controversies took place between the fathers and the heretics, one party giving their views in writing and the other answering them in the same manner.
The following Confession of Faith was agreed upon by the 318 holy fathers, who assembled in Nice a city of Bithynia in the time of the Emperor Constantine, on account of the blasphemous doctrines of the accursed Arius.
We believe in one God, Father Almighty, maker of things visible and invisible; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, only Begotten and first born of all creatures; who was born of the Father before all worlds and was not created; true God, of the true God, of the nature of the Father, and by whom the worlds were made and all things created, and who for our sakes and for our salvation descended from Heaven, took a bodily form by the power of the Holy Spirit, and became man; was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered and was crucified in the days of Pontius Pilate, was buried and rose again the third day as it is written, ascended to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the dead and the living; and in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth that proceedeth from the Father, a life giving Spirit and in one holy Apostolic Catholic church; and in one Baptism for the remission of sins; and in the resurrection of the body, and in life everlasting.
*Obviously, this translation in context, refers not ‘worship’ (latreia) due to God, but relative veneration (honor or ‘worth-ship’) used in the Old English idiom. Context, people – context.