Posts Tagged ‘May 20th’

Mitre Makes Rite

Posted in General, On This Day on May 20th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – 4 Comments

Audition Call: We need 300 “reenactors” for the¬†anniversary of the Council of Nicaea. Yes, the Council opened on this day in 325. Any prospective reenactors should be in excellent health. The Council was literally a La Cross tournament, with the bishops wielding their crosiers as sticks. The Emperor Constantine was both host and referee.

It would be charming to include a descendant of Constantine in the celebrations. Unfortunately, there aren’t any. Constantine did have a large family, but they preoccupied themselves with killing each other off. The Emperor had six children, two grandchildren and no great-grandchildren. That is internecine efficiency. It is the same story for the Emperor’s nephews and nieces, just shorter, with Constantine killing a few himself.

Fortunately, there should be no lack of descendants of the attending bishops. In 325, many bishops and most priests were married. There were a few curmudgeons who advocated celibacy, but they were a distinct minority. The presiding bishop of the Council, Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria, actually encouraged priests to be married. If the Council never issued an official endorsement of married clergy, that was only because it was too obvious to be necessary.

The Church had more important–serious–issues to resolve. By A.D. 325, Christianity was out of the catacombs and in the establishment, the favorite theology of the Emperor Constantine. Unfortunately, religious tolerance gave Christians the freedom to persecute each other. It was not the spiritual monolith that Constantine had expected. The exasperated emperor summoned the bishops to Nicaea, ordering the fractious theologians to agree to a binding definition of the Holy Trinity.

Since the Trinity was now the doctrine of the Church, the Greek intellectuals could fight over the nature of the Trinity. That would be good for about five centuries of debates, denunciations and schisms.

And what is a religion without relics. Here is one of mine: