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St. Theodore of Studios

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  • Basil Yakimov
    With a great voice, St. John Chrysostom addressed as enemies of God not only the heretics, but also those who were in communion with them.” (St. Theodore the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2 10:09 PM
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      With a great voice, St. John Chrysostom addressed as enemies of God not
      only the heretics, but also those who were in communion with them.” (St.
      Theodore the Studite)
      “The sacraments of those preserving in heresy shall obtain from them the
      heavy penalty of eternal damnation.” (61st Canon of Council of Carthage)
      Holy Confessor
      St. Theodore of Studios
      Comm. of translation of relics


      Also know as Theodore of Studium and Theodore of Studios, he was an abbot,
      monastic reformer, theologian and ardent enemy of heretical iconoclastic
      policies in the Byzantine Empire. The nephew of St. Pluto, abbot of
      Saccudium (a monastery in Bithynia, Asia Minor, near Mt. Olympus in modern
      Turkey), he decided to follow the angelic life of asceticism and was
      blessed by his uncle to take the holy habit and entered the community at
      Saccudium about 780. In 794, he followed St. Pluto as abbot when his uncle
      abdicated in his favor.


      Theodore soon drew attention to himself for his opposition to the
      adulterous marriage of Emperor Constantine VI (r. 780-797) and was banished
      until 797 when the emperor was deposed by his mother, Irene. Two years
      later Theodore moved the community from Saccudium to the Studion, (an
      estate in a suburb of Constantinople) in order to escape the growing
      dangers of the Arab invasions. The monastery subsequently became one of the
      most prominent in the whole of the Eastern Church. In 809, Theodore was
      exiled once more, this time by by opposing Emperor Nicephorus I's (r.
      802-811) promotion of the iconoclast heresy. This marked the start of
      suffering and persecution which continued virtually until his death.
      Recalled in 811, he was forced soon after to speak out against the
      iconoclastic policies of Emperor Leo V (r. 813-820). In revenge, Leo had
      Theodore seized, cruelly abused, and exiled. The Studion was populated by
      Iconoclast monks, and Theodore lived in banishment until 820 when Emperor
      Michael II (r. 820-829) brought him back to Constantinople. Theodore
      remained unbending and died without ever returning to the Studion. He died
      just outside of Constantinople.


      Theodore was venerated for his personal holiness, his brilliant abilities
      as a preacher, and his willingness to champion the rights of the Church,
      even at the price of deep personal sacrifice. He was also the author of
      five hundred letters, hymns, sermons, polemics against Iconoclasm, and two
      cathechisms. His rule for monks and abbatial admonitions and letters have
      influenced monastic life in the Orthdox Church to this very day.
      "But complete salvation depends not on the faith of the heart alone, but
      also upon confessing it, for the Lord said, 'Whosoever shall deny Me before
      men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven' (Matt.
      10:33). Also, the divine Apostle teaches: 'For with the heart man believeth
      unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation'
      (Rom. 10:10). If, then, God and the divine Prophets and Apostles command
      that they mystery of faith be confessed in words and with the tongue, and
      this mystery of faith brings salvation to the whole world, then people must
      not be forced to keep silence with regard to confession, lest the salvation
      of people be hindered." (p. 29)
      "To keep silence about a word means to deny it''
      St Maxim Confessor



      St. Theodore of Studios on the Sacred Canons and Schism


      These excerpts are taken from the single best work available in English on
      St. Theodore: Theodore of Studios: Byzantine Churchman, by Patrick Henry
      III (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Yale, 1968; bound photocopies are
      available from UMI). This is a very important work for understanding the
      nature of Church unity and authority, especially during a time of
      controvsery. It is an excellent companion to Patrick Barker's A Study of
      the Ecclesiology of Resistance The Center for Traditional Orthodox
      Studies).


      On the Canons


      Epistle I.36:


      Why do I speak of the canons and imply a distinction? For it is one and the
      same thing to speak of them and of the Gospel of Christ. He himself said
      when he gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven to the great Peter,
      "Whomever you loose and whomever you bind, it will be as you have said."
      [Cf. Matt. 16:19] And again he said to all the Apostles: "Receive the Holy
      Spirit. Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you retain,
      they are retained." [John 20:22-23] And consequently he transmitted the
      authority to those who came after them, if they should act in the same way.


      For this reason the canons of Basil and of saints equal in rank to him have
      been received along with the Apostolic Canons, in as much as they followed
      them without making any innovation, only amplifying where necessary.


      On the other hand, these new pseudo-apostles demonstrate clearly that they
      do not act according to the limits set down by the saints. Rather,
      according to their own authority and discretion they act against what has
      been declared by the saints, when some bishop or other absolves in a
      situation where the saints did not absolve, or binds in a situation where
      the saints did not bind. And you see these things happening every day. (PG
      1037AB; Henry p. 158-159)


      On Valid Councils


      Letter to Magister Theoctistus (Ep. I.24):


      [The Church of God] has not permitted anything to be done or said against
      the established decrees and laws, although many shepherds have in many ways
      railed against them [cf. Jer. 10:25] when they have called great and very
      numerous councils, and given themselves to put on a show of concern for the
      canons, while in truth acting against them.


      What then is remarkable in the gathering of about fifteen bishops to
      declare innocent and to absolve for the priesthood one who is deposed on
      two counts?


      Sir, a council does not consist simply in the gathering of bishops and
      priests, no matter how many there are. For Scripture says that one doing
      the will of the Lord is better than thousands who transgress [Ecclus.
      16:3]. A council occurs when, in the Lord's name, the canons are thoroughly
      searched out and maintained. And a council is not to bind and loose in some
      random way, but as seems proper to the truth and to the canon and to the
      rule of strictness.


      Let those who gathered demonstrate that they have acted in this way and we
      will join them; but if they do not demonstrate it, let them cast out the
      unworthy one, lest it become a reproach to them and to future generations.


      "The Word of God is not such as to allow itself to be bound." [II Tim. 2:9]
      And no authority whatever has been given to bishops for any transgression
      of a canon. They are simply to follow what has been decreed, and to adhere
      to those who have gone before. (PG 985ABC; Henry p. 120)


      On Schism


      Epistle to the Patriarch of Constantinople Nicephorus (Ep. I.25), during
      the Moechian Controversy (808 A.D.):


      We are not schismatics, O Holy Head, from the Church of God [for refusing
      to commune with him, as well as Abbot Joseph and his supporters]: God
      forbid that should ever happen. I am a sinner in countless ways, but I am
      Orthodox and a child of the Church catholic. I repudiate every heresy and
      accept every approved catholic and local synod, and the canonical
      constitutions promulgated by them as well. For he is not completely, but
      only halfway Orthodox, who seems to have right faith while not being guided
      by the divine canons. (PG 989A; Henry p. 280)


      Epistle to Monk Basil (Ep. I.28):


      We are not schismatics from the Church of God; God forbid that we should
      ever come to that! But although our sins are many, nevertheless we are of
      one body with the Church; we are its children and the children of its
      divine dogmas; and we strive to keep its canons and constitutions...This is
      not a schism of the Church. It is defense of the truth, and vindication of
      the sacred laws (kai ton theon nomon echorechesin). What Your Honor
      suggests would be a breaking of the truth and would paralyze the canons (
      kai ton kanonon e paralesis). (PG 997CD, 1001D; Henry p. 123, 109)


      To the Iconoclastic Synod on Behalf of All the Abbots (Ep. II.1, 815 A.D.):


      If anyone at all from among our contemporaries or from earlier times, if
      even Peter and Paul (for the sake of argument I suggest as possible
      something which is impossible), should come from heaven itself teaching and
      preaching something other than this faith, we could not receive him into
      communion, as not adhering to the pure teaching of the faith. And no matter
      what your authority thinks, Our Humility is ready to resist to death rather
      than deny such a pure confession as ours is. (PG 1120A; Henry p. 301)


      Expanding upon Galatians 1:8 St. Theodore says in Ep. I.24:


      Shall we say: Since it is lawful for an archbishop together with his
      associates to do as he pleases, let him be for the duration of his
      archbishophric a new Evangelist, another Apostle, a different Lawgiver?
      Certainly not. For we have an injunction from the Apostle himself: If
      anyone preaches a doctrine, or urges your to do something, against what you
      have received [from the Fathers], against what is prescribed by the canons
      of the catholic and local synods held at various times, he is not to be
      received, or to be reckoned among the number of the faithful. And I forbear
      even to mention the terrible judgment with which the Apostle concludes. (PG
      988A, Henry. pp. 118-119)


      These two texts by St Theodore remind us both of what we believe and what
      it cost our forebears in the Faith to hold to that belief.


      The first of these letters of St Theodore to his exiled monks is a vivid
      reminder of the second of point. The year is 819. St Theodore, aged sixty,
      is imprisoned with one of his monks, Nicolas, in exile in Boneta in
      Anatolia. His community is also in exile and the monks are scattered.
      Nevertheless he still manages to communicate with them by letter, still
      manages in this way to give them his ‘catecheses’, or ‘instructions’. One
      of these, no doubt a vigorous defence of the veneration of icons, has
      reached the Emperor, the iconoclast Leo the Armenian, who has decided that
      St Theodore needs dealing with. This letter describes the result. There is
      also a vivid account of the incident in the two lives of St Theodore. Life
      B tells us that the beatings, one hundred lashes with rawhide whips, took
      place on 23 February. St Theodore spent many weeks between life and death.
      Nicolas ‘his outstanding servant, fellow athlete and companion’, says the
      Life, ‘could make him take hardly one small cup of water a day. But, as
      they were quite without medical care, he was allowed by his spiritual
      Father, like another Silas or Timothy, to cut away with a knife as was
      necessary the gangrenous bits of skin where it was hanging loose, so that
      in time the rest of his body might return little by little to stable
      health. In such constraint of bodily agonies then, Theodore, that pillar of
      fire of orthodoxy, passed through the whole stadium of the sacred Forty
      Days [Lent] and beyond, and his body had hardly been restored to a
      condition of wholeness until around the final days of the holy Fifty Days
      [Pentecost]’. In 819, 28 February would have been the first day of Lent,
      Clean Monday. Pascha was on 17 April and Pentecost 5 June.





      LETTERS BOOK II
      38


      Theodore to his brotherhoods scattered everywhere


      Rejoice, my brethren and fathers so greatly longed for, because the good
      news is of joy. Once again we, the unworthy, have been found worthy to
      confess our fair confession. Once again we have both been tortured for name
      of the Lord. For brother Nicolas too competed bravely and faithfully. We,
      lowly though we are, have seen blood emptied on the ground from our flesh;
      we have looked on weals, gore and all that goes with them. Is not this
      cause for joy? Is not this cause for gladness of soul? But who am I, poor
      wretch, to be ranked with you, Christ’s worthy confessors, I the most
      unprofitable of men? The reason that all this has happened is my former
      instruction, which the ruler got into his hands and sent to the military
      governor with orders that the commander of the cohort should come to us. He
      came with his officers and soldiers at dead of night and suddenly
      surrounded the little house where we were, with loud shouts, just as though
      he had suddenly flushed an animal when out hunting. With his diggers he
      rapidly smashed down the fence, produced, examined and displayed the
      instruction. We confessed that we had composed it, as God wished. He was
      only seeking one thing: that we come to the emperor’s wish. We said
      precisely what the truth demanded: God forbid that we deny our God, and
      whatever was required to reply to our hearers. At this he flogged us
      savagely. The brother had sustained nothing serious like this in his toils
      since his first imprisonment and registration, while I, lowly and
      enfeebled, afflicted by raging fevers and scarcely endurable pains, was
      within a little of despairing of my life. Nevertheless the good God had
      mercy on me little by little, the brother helping in what was fitting, even
      though the wounds are still there and have not yet completely healed. So
      much for us. I have recounted our suffering to you knowing that you are
      keen to learn in order to share our pain. What next? The threat is more
      serious, the confinement stricter. For beatings have been added to the
      duties of the guards and the gaoler. We are not to grumble, we are not to
      write to anyone. Shall we cower down then and keep silent, in fear obeying
      human authority rather than God’s? Certainly not. But until the Lord opens
      a door for us, we shall not cease to fulfil our duty according to our
      possibilities, fearing and trembling at the judgement that hangs over
      silence. ‘If he draw back, it says, my soul will not be well pleased in
      him’ [Heb. 10,38, quoting Hab. 2,4]. And again the Apostle says, ‘We are
      not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith to
      the possession of their soul’ [Heb. 10,39].


      For this reason this present letter of mine is for all the scattered
      brethren, and who are enduring persecution under pressure, but especially
      you, the confessors of Christ. Let us endure, my beloved brothers, gaining
      yet greater power in our sufferings, rather than quailing. They are flesh.
      Let us not spare them. As we are tormented for Christ, let us be glad. The
      one who abounds in pains, let him rejoice the more, as he will have a
      greater share in the rewards. The one who shrinks to bear the pains of
      scourges, let him then shake off fear as he considers the eternal sorrows.
      For their wounds in comparison with those are a dream, the arrows of
      infants. Yes, I beg, I entreat: let us find sweetness in our sufferings for
      Christ, even though they may be very severe in terms of the flesh. Let us
      fix our gaze on things to come and which abide. Let us long to mingle our
      blood with that of the martyrs, our part with that of the confessors, that
      we may dance with them eternally. Who is prudent? Who is wise? Who is a
      good business man, to give blood and receive spirit, to despise the flesh
      and acquire the kingdom of God? ‘He who loves his soul will lose it, says
      the Lord, and he who hates his soul in this age will keep it to eternal
      life’ [Jn 12,25]. Let us hearken to his words, and let us follow him.
      ‘Where I am’, he says, ‘there also will my servant be’ [Jn 12,26]. Where is
      he? On a Cross. And we, in our lowliness, as we wish to be his disciples,
      are there too. I ask you to be content with this word of exhortation. For
      this is only a short letter. Know that we sinners rejoice, we are not cast
      down, so long only as you stand fast in the Lord. Nicolas my fellow
      prisoner, my fellow sufferer, my fellow soldier and your most true brother,
      greets you. Greet one another with a holy kiss [Cf. 1 Thess. 5:26],
      athletes their fellow athletes, the persecuted their fellows in
      persecution, all of you those who love you in faith. If any one does not
      confess our Lord depicted in body, let him be anathema from the Trinity.
      ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen’ [Thess. 5:28].





      INTRODUCTION


      This letter is undated, but according to the MSS all the letters in the
      second book were written during St Theodore’s third exile, after 815. It is
      in fact an ‘Instruction’, or ‘Catechesis’, and is the sort of letter that
      could have provoked the wrath of the Emperor Leo, described in the previous
      letter.


      The last part of the letter contains a number of allusions to the promises
      made by the monk or nun in the rite of monastic tonsure.


      I translate the Greek verb proskynein by ‘worship’. To translate it
      ‘worship’ when it refers to God and ‘venerate’ it when it refers to icons
      is unwarranted, and reflects the damaging influence of the Protestant
      reformation on theological English. There is an interesting discussion of
      this question on David Melling’s page Arimathea.





      LETTERS BOOK II
      156


      To the brethren with his son Patrikios.


      Brothers and Fathers, I have been requested by your father, as I am both
      his father and through him yours, to talk to you about the things which
      concern salvation. And naturally I agreed. So in all humility I begin from
      these words: Our salvation, beloved children, is to believe rightly in the
      holy Trinity and act in ways which have the approval of God’s holy
      commandments. For, as the Apostle says, in Christ Jesus circumcision is
      worth nothing, nor is uncircumcision; what counts is faith put into
      practice love [Gal. 5:6]. Now the logic of the faith leads to orthodox
      doctrine, while the logic of love to the principle of good action. We
      believe, then, in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are three persons, one
      nature, one power, one sovereign majesty of all things; worshipped as one,
      as to nature, will, activity, might and glory. We believe that one of the
      holy Trinity, the Son and Word of God the Father, emptied himself and took
      the form of a servant [Phil. 2,7], manifested in our form. For this is what
      the Theologian says, the Word became flesh [John 1:14], and the great
      Apostle writes, God was manifested in the flesh [1 Tim. 3:16]. And he is
      one and the same in two natures, perfect God and perfect man; and in each
      perfection he left nothing that is proper to them both unassumed, but
      rather, as genuinely a son he possessed as God everything which pertains to
      the Father, as human everything which pertains to his Mother. And so, just
      as he is uncircumscribed like his Father, so like his Mother he is
      circumscribed, that is to say formed in the image in the likeness of his
      Mother. Now the Iconoclasts, concerning whom this doctrine is laid down,
      since they do not confess that he was circumscribed, are found quite
      certainly not to confess that he is the genuine son of his Mother. For what
      is a genuine offspring, and not one that is completely different, except
      one that is like the one who gives it birth in all its natural properties.
      For as regards his being circumscribed he has nothing in common with his
      Father, but everything with his Mother; and the opposite is true of his
      being uncircumscribed. Here his communion is with his Begetter, and not
      with her who gave him birth.


      Such is the right doctrine of the truth; this is the apostolic faith: to
      confess that Christ is circumscribed in the flesh. So wrote Basil the
      Great, "Let there be inscribed on a tablet Christ, the umpire of the
      contests." And to honour the image inscribed, as Christ is worshipped in
      it. For Chrysostom the golden declares that he has seen an angel in an
      image [For these two passages see St Theodore’s Refutation of the Poems of
      the Iconoclasts [PG 99:468-469], where they are quoted in full. St John
      uses the word "picture", graphê]. And if [he saw] one who is without a body
      in an image, how much more the Word who was embodied? And if he sees, it is
      clear that he also worships the angel in an image; just so Christ. For to
      be granted to see in a depiction is equivalent to worshipping, "since the
      honour of the image ascends to its prototype", as Basil the Great also
      says. Those who insult Christ’s image, deny him, for through their
      rejection of the image they apply their rejection to him, even though they
      claim to confess Christ; in as much as the demons confess God [Cf. James
      2:19], Scripture says, while they deny him by their works [Titus 1:16].
      Great therefore, brothers, is their impiety, and great our confession, and
      in no way falls short of that of the martyrs of old. Therefore stand firm
      without wavering at all over those things whose truth has already been
      demonstrated; but submit yourselves to the struggles for this faith to
      shedding of blood, should occasion demand. From here there also dawns the
      radiant life, a sun from a sun; since the one is indeed proof of the other,
      as the Brother of God has declared [Cf. James 2:18]. Love God with the
      totality of your three powers[Cf. Matt. 22:37], as the commandment orders.
      Love yourselves also, as limbs of Christ. For by this, as Scripture says,
      all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among each other
      [John 13:35]. Treat your superior with faith; let there be no one who has
      not confessed to him: such a person nourishes serpents. Let no one be tepid
      in his faith: such a person has no share in the fervour of the Holy Spirit.
      Let no one have secret possessions: such a person is no monk. Let no one be
      over confident in speech: such a person is a worker of destruction. Let no
      one be a secret eater: such a person is like a slave. Let no one give
      offence in anything, lest his service be brought into discredit, as the
      Apostle declares, but in everything let him conduct himself as God's
      servant, with great endurance, in tribulations, in difficulties [2 Cor.
      6:3-4], and in all the other circumstances, which he enumerates, so
      perfecting himself as a true Christian. Now if this is how the subject
      should be, what and how much should be required of the abbot, who should be
      held up as good exemplar for those he teaches? The struggle is great; but
      the reward is infinite, the kingdom of heaven, of which may we, both rulers
      and ruled, be found worthy by living godly lives in Christ Jesus our Lord.
      To whom be glory and might with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for
      ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.


      More material from Saint Theodore you can find on this link
      http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/ths07.htm





      “All the teachers of the Church, all the Synods, and all the Sacred
      Scriptures admonish the faithful to flee from those that teach heresy, and
      they forbid them to have communion with them.” (St. Mark of Ephesus)





      To permit unity of healthy person with contagiously ill person until norm
      of health is not properly established ,will not cause ill person to get
      better but rather will cause healthy one to lose health and to became
      contagiously ill himself. If such action is so dangerous in regard of
      physical aspects of the body,how much more than it is dangerous in regard
      of spiritual aspects of the soul .When those who are following Royal path
      ,in ignorance stray from it and join those who are in errors , then not a
      health and life of temporal body but health and even salvation of eternal
      soul may be in question.
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