“Eternal life is this, to know you, the only true God and Him whom You have sent- Jesus Christ.”

(John 17:3)

Today the church celebrates the Holy Fathers of the first six Ecumenical Councils (325-707). We can also say that we should also include in our prayers of thanksgiving for the 21 councils which have been held in history.

Church Councils meet the needs of the particular time and are held from time to time to teach and clarify what God has revealed to the church. It is important that we are always taught and believe the one truth, without picking and choosing what we might like at any one time, and thus teach something else later on. There is but one Holy Spirit, and one truth.

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The first six councils were very important in that they made clear church teaching. For example, these Ecumenical Councils gave us the Bible, the Creed, defined the place of icons, and clarified the role of the Virgin Mary.

Other Councils taught us other truths. The latest Council was held in the 1960’s and gave us many practical instructions.

Our Synod of Bishops of our church is also called “Holy” and has shaped our Ukrainian Catholic Church. In 2011 it published our catechism, “Christ our Pascha” which presents to us the whole catechism, all that we believe to be true.

Church Councils remind us that the Holy Spirit today continues to dwell in and to guide our church. We are a holy, universal church which has relevance in our lives and our world. We are a true church of Jesus Christ.

Throughout our history it has always been necessary to develop and explain our faith. We need to know what we believe and to understand what God has taught us. That’s why we pray to the Holy Spirit and have Councils or Synods.

Jesus is telling us that we do not convert people with clever arguments, but rather by witnessing to the faith that we as believers have. We set a good example.

Having said this, we also have to understand that many people do not know or believe in God. It is the responsibility of the church to bring them back to the faith. We have the truth that God has given us. We do not convert people simply by giving them a copy of the book of faith. Jesus is telling us that we do not convert people with clever arguments, but rather by witnessing to the faith that we as believers have. We set a good example.

St Francis said, “Go and preach the Gospel. Use words only when necessary.”

If we want to lead people back to a faith in Jesus Christ, we first have to know our faith ourselves. We must pray and lead a Godly life and, in this way, become witnesses to our faith.

The joy and love witnessed in our lives in difficult times and situations is important. Jesus transforms our lives, and we can then transform the lives of others. We are not all called to be theologians, but we are all called to be witnesses. We live what we believe and let God take care of the rest.

Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM

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