Church of Serbia – March 2017
From the Proceedings of the Seventh Ecumenical Council
The holy, great, and Ecumenical Council, which, by the grace of God and the will of the pious and Christ-loving Emperors, Constantine and Irene, his mother, was gathered together for the second time at Nice, the illustrious metropolis of Bithynia, in the holy church of God which is named Sophia, having followed the tradition of the Catholic Church, hath defined as follows: Christ our Lord, who hath bestowed upon us the light of the knowledge of himself, and hath redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous madness, having espoused to himself the Holy Catholic Church without spot or defect, promised that he would so preserve her: and gave his word to this effect to his holy disciples when he said Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world which promise he made, not only to them, but to us also who should believe in his name through their word.
However, some, not considering of this gift, and have, through the temptation of the wily enemy, fallen from the orthodox faith, withdrawing from the traditions of the Catholic Church. They have erred from the truth and as the proverb said: The husbandmen have gone astray in their own husbandry and have gathered in their hands nothingness, because certain priests (priests in name only, not in fact), dared to speak against the God-approved ornament of the sacred monuments, of whom God cries aloud through the prophet, Many pastors have corrupted my vineyard, they have polluted my portion. And, following profane men and led astray by their carnal sense, have calumniated the Church of Christ our God, which he hath espoused to himself, and have failed to distinguish between holy and profane, styling the images of our Lord and of his Saints by the same name as the statues of diabolical idols.
Seeing such things, our Lord God, unwilling to behold his people corrupted by a plague, has called us, zealous, godly bishops from every quarter, together, bringing them here to confirm the traditions of the Catholic Church by common decree, according to the will of our princes, Constantine and Irene.
Therefore we, diligently making a thorough examination and analysis, following the trend of the truth, neither diminish nor add anything,, but preserve unchanged all things which pertain to the Catholic Church by following the Six Ecumenical Councils, especially that which met in this illustrious metropolis of Nice, that gathered together in the God-protected Royal City.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from the heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures; And ascended into the heavens, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; And shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life; Who proceedeth from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the prophets.
In One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
We confess one baptism for the remission of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come.
Therefore: We detest and anathematize Arius and all who share of his absurd opinion; We detest and anathematize Macedonius, and those who follow him, who are styled “Foes of the Spirit.”
Moreover, we confess that the Holy Lady, Mary, is properly and truly the Mother of God, because she was the Mother after the flesh of One Person of the Holy Trinity, that Christ our God, as the Council of Ephesus defined when it cast out of the Church the impious Nestorius and those with him, because he taught that there were two Persons in Christ.
With the Fathers of that council, we confess that he who was incarnate of the immaculate Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary has two natures, recognizing him as perfect God and perfect man, and as promulgated by Council of Chalcedon. Thereby expelling from the Divine Atrium as blasphemers: Eutyches and Dioscorus; and placing in the same category Severus, Peter and a number of others, blaspheming in divers fashions.
Moreover, with these we anathematize the fables of Origen, Evagrius, and Didymus, in accordance with the decision of the Fifth Council held at Constantinople.
We affirm that in Christ there be two wills and two operations according to the reality of each nature, as also the Sixth Council, held at Constantinople, taught, casting out Sergius, Honorius, Cyrus, Pyrrhus, Macarius, and those who agree with them, and all those who are unwilling to be reverent.
To make our confession short:
We keep unchanged all the traditions of the Church handed down to us, whether written to verbally. One of which is the making of holy images consistent with history of the Gospel, a tradition useful in many respects, especially in demonstrating that the Incarnation of the Word of God as real, not a phantasm, for these have mutual indications and mutual significations.
We, therefore, following the royal pathway and the divinely inspired authority of our Holy Fathers and the traditions of the Catholic Church, in which we all know that the Holy Spirit dwells, define with all certitude and accuracy that:
Just as the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, so also the venerable and holy images in painting, mosaic, and other fit materials, should be in the holy temples of God, as well as in houses and by the wayside, on the sacred vessels, on vestments, on hangings, and in paintings, and that these holy icons set forth the figure of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, of our Most Pure Lady, the Mother of God, of the honorable Angels, of all Saints and of all pious people.
For the more frequently as they are seen in artistic representation, the more readily men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes and to a longing after them.
And these icons should be given due salutation and honorable reverence, not that true worship of faith such as pertains the divine nature alone, but to these, as to the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, to the Book of the Gospels, and to other holy objects, incense and lights may be offered, according to ancient pious custom, as the honor paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents so that who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented thereby strengthening the teaching of our holy Fathers, that is the tradition of the Catholic Church, which from one end of the earth to the other has received the Gospel.
Holding fast the traditions we have received, we thus follow Paul, who spoke in Christ, the whole divine Apostolic company, and the holy Fathers, we sing prophetically the triumphal hymns of the Church, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem. Rejoice and be glad with all thy heart. The Lord hath taken away from thee the oppression of thy adversaries; thou art redeemed from the hand of thine enemies. The Lord is a King in the midst of thee; thou shalt not see evil any more, and peace be unto thee forever.
To those who dare to think, teach, or, as wicked heretics, spurn the traditions of the Church, by inventing some novelty or by reject something that the Church hath received, (whether the Book of the Gospels, the image of the cross, the holy icons, the holy relics of a martyr), or by evilly and sharply, to devise anything subversive of the lawful traditions of the Catholic Church, or by turning to common use the sacred vessels, or the venerable monasteries: We command that, if they be Bishops or Clerics, they be deposed, or if religious or laity, they be cut off from communion.
The Holy Council cried out:
So we all believe!
We all are so minded!
We all give our consent and have signed.
As the prophets beheld,
As the Apostles have taught,
As the Church has received,
As the teachers have dogmatized,
As the universe has agreed,
As grace has illumined
As truth has revealed,
As falsehood has been dispelled,
As wisdom has presented,
As Christ has triumphed:
This we believe,
This we declare,
This we preach:
Christ our true God, and His saints we honor in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in temples, in icons, on the one hand bowing down and worshipping Christ as God and Master, on the other hand honoring the saints as true servants of the Master of all, and offering to them due veneration.
This is the faith of the Apostles!
This is the faith of the Fathers!
This is the faith of the Orthodox!
This is the faith that has established the Universe!
Therefore, with fraternal and filial love, we praise the heralds of the faith, those who with glory and honor have struggled for the faith, and we say:
For the champions of Orthodoxy, faithful emperors, most-holy patriarchs, hierarchs, teachers, martyrs, and confessors: May their memory be eternal!
Believing in one God, celebrated in Trinity, we salute the honorable images!
Those who do not so hold: Let them be anathema!
Those who do not thus think: Let them be driven far away from the Church.
We follow the most ancient legislation of the Catholic Church.
We keep the laws of the Fathers.
We anathematize those who add anything to or take anything away from the Catholic Church.
We anathematize the introduced novelty of the revilers of Christians.
We salute the venerable images.
We place under anathema those who do not do this.
To those who presume to apply to the venerable images the things said in Holy Scripture about as idols: Anathema!
To those who do not salute the holy and venerable images: Anathema!
To those who call the sacred images idols: Anathema!
To those who say that Christians resort to the sacred images as to gods: Anathema!
To those who say that any other delivered us from idols except Christ our God: Anathema!
To those who dare to say that at any time the Catholic Church received idols Anathema!
Let us beseech God that we may be instructed and strengthened by the trials and struggles, even unto death, endured by the saints for the Fait, that, by their teachings, we may imitate their godly life, and that may we be deemed worthy. Through the mercy and grace of the great and First Hierarch, Christ our God, the intercessions of our glorious Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, the Holy Angels, and all the saints.