Today at church we celebrated the graduation of two of our parishioners.
One of our teens, a young man, is graduating from high school. He hopes to be an architect. The next two years will be spent at the local community college, which has an outstanding reputation, boosting his grades so that he can apply to the large university of his choice for his architectural degree.
The other is a Mom with two small children. In addition to her home and wifely responsibilities, she attends college at night. She earned her Bachelor’s in Business and has rolled right into an MBA program. Laughingly, she said she studies between 2 and 4 a.m. I don’t doubt her for one minute!
At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, Father T called them both to the foot of the Ambo and presented each of them with an Orthodox Study Bible. After congratulating them he reminded them, and us, that today we celebrated the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. Further he said, we live in a culture that is increasingly secular. Watching the Discovery Channel or the History Channel, some of his favorites which present excellent programming, often have experts that put down Christianity and Christian beliefs. “Heaven forbid these programs put down Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism! There would be a huge outcry! But putting down and cutting out Christianity is okay.” He explained that the Holy Fathers gathered in a Council to hammer out just what it was that we Christians believe in response to the heresy that Arius was teaching. Arius was putting down the Truth that Jesus Christ has always been, was present at creation and is the Son of God. The Holy Fathers studied the scriptures and what the Church had believed from before in order to combat the false truth Arius was spreading.
And so, Father T’s instructions to the graduates was, as they continued on in their studies and furthered their education, study the Scriptures, stay grounded in the Church, receive the sacraments and stay grounded in God. Live a balanced life. Keep our minds in righteousness so that we will know heresy when we hear it and be able to combat it with the Truth.