My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
On the 31st of August, the Holy Orthodox Church Commemorates
the holy Hieromartyr CYPRIAN, Bishop of Carthage.
Saint Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage and hieromartyr, the Saint Ignatios of the west–and the account of his life and sufferings has been memorialized b his writings and the biography of his own Deacon Pontius. Saint Cyprian understood and undertook his responsibilities as a bishop seriously, building upon a system that universally recognized the Great Synods and community of bishops. Deacon Pontius introduces his bishop’s history, writing: “The doings of a man of God should not be reckoned from any point except from the time that he was born of God. His regeneration in the waters of Baptism had not yet enlightened the new man with the entire splendor of the Divine Light, yet he was already overcoming the ancient and pristine darkness by the mere dawning of the Light. He read Scripture voraciously and immediately laid hold of what he had discovered. Saint Cyprian taught that we should do whatever Job had previously done. He did not only encourage with words, but put the deeds into action.
When the Emperor Valerian held the consulship for the fourth time with Gallienus, who held i for the third, on the 30th day of August, at Carthage, the Proconsul said, “Emperors Valerian and Gallienus have sent me a document in which they order all those who do not practice Roman beliefs to acknowledge the Roman rites. I have made some inquiries in thy connection. What sayest thou?” Bishop Cyprian answered, “I am a Christian and a bishop. I recognize no other gods but the True God ‘Who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all things that are in them” (Acts 4:24). This is the God to Whom we Christians pay reverence. Night and day we supplicate Him for thee and all men, and the health of the emperors.” Following the questioning and interrogation of the Saint and Bishop Cyprian was arraigned. He as brought forward and questioned by Proconsul Galerius Maximust, as follows” “Art thou Thascius, also known as Cyprian?” The bishop answered, “Yes, I am he.” The proconsul continued and said, “Our most sacred imperators have ordered thee to perform what is required in our religious ceremonies.” Bishop Cyprian responded, “I will NOT comply.” Galerius Maximus rejoined, “Take care!” The bishop said, “Doas thou has been enjoined accordant with law, deliberation is not needed.”
The proconsul made his final accusations against Saint Cyprian. “Thus, since thou hast been caught as the instigator and ringleader of a most atrocious crime; the bishop’s crime was that he had “persisted in his sacrilegious (Christian beliefs) opinions,” thou will be an example for all those whom in thy wickedness thou hast gathered to thyself. Discipline shall have it sanction in thy blood.” The proconsul the read his decision from a tablet: “Thascius Cyprian is sentenced to die by the sword.” Bishop Cyprian exclaimed, “Thanks be to God!”
Following the pronouncement of the sentence, the crowd of Christians cried out, “Let us also suffer decapitation with him!” The result was an uproar among the Christians. Cyprian was led out of the grounds of the estate of Sextus, escorted by a great throng. After he removed his cloak, he spread it out on the ground so that he could later kneel down upon it. He then removed his dalmatic, and outer liturgical garment, and handed it to his deacons. He then stood upright, waiting for the headsman. When he arrived, Cyprian requested of his friends that they give the executioner twenty-five gold pieces. Having done so, they began to spread cloths and napkins before the bishop. The eyes of Cyprian were bound and the executioner with difficulty clasped the blade in his failing right hand with trembling fingers. Only when power from on high permitted him to act did the centurion usher in the death of the excellent man. In this manner did Saint Cyprian pass to life unending. His body was removed at nightfall, accompanied by a cortege holding tapers and torches. As prayers were recited, the procession went forward in great triumph to the cemetery of Macrobius Candidianus the procurator.
Deacon Pontius declares that his bishop “gave himself as an example to his friends, since, when many were about to follow in a similar manner, he was the first in the province to consecrate the firstfruits of Martyrdom. And, by his blood, discipline began to be established; but it was the discipline of Martyrs, who, emulating their teacher, in the imitation of a glory like his own, themselves also gave a confirmation to discipline by the very blood of their own example.”
Pontius states that Saint Cyprian was also THE FIRST IN AFRICA who imbued his priestly crown with the blood of MARTYRDOM, because he was the first after the Apostles. Saint Cyprian was certainly only a recent convert when he became Bishop of Carthage in 248 A.D. or the beginning of 249 A.D., but he passed through all the grades of the Ministry. He had decline the office, but was constrained by the people.
The baptism of heretics
The Church Martyr Cyprian and all his Synod of 84 bishops REJECTED THE BAPTISM OF HERETICS, basing their decision on the Apostolic Canons. They offer further proof by many Scriptural assertions and especially by that of Saint Paul the Apostle say, “One Lord, One faith, One baptism” [Ephesians 4:5]. For they say if the catholic (universal) Church is ONE AND THE TRUE BAPTISM IS ONE, HOW CAN THE BAPTISM OF HERETICS AND SCHISMATICS ALSO BE A TRUE BAPTISM AT A TIME WHEN THEY ARE NOT WITHIN THE ORTHODOX AND CATHOLIC CHURCH? But if the baptism of heretics and schismatics is a true Baptism, and that of the Orthodox catholic Church is also a true Baptism, then THERE IS NOT ONE BAPTISM, AS SAINT PAUL CRIES OUT, BUT TWO–WHICH IS ABSURD. And they add this too, that THIS IDEA OF NOT ACCEPTING A BAPTISM OF HERETICS IS NOT NEW OR RECENT ONE OF THEIR OWN, BUT ON THE CONTRARY, AN OLD ONE AND ONE WHICH HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE HOLY SIXTH ECUMENICAL SYNOD (Canon 2). Hence, from being merely a canon of a Local and partial Synod IT HAS BECOME A CANON OF AN ECUMENICAL SYNOD BY REASON OF ITS HAVING BEEN CONFIRMED AND RATIFIED BY THE LATTER. In agreement with Saint Cyprian and his Synod. Firmilian [commemorated by the Holy Orthodox Church on the 28th of October]–who served as Exarch of the Synod of Iconium and whom Saint Basil the Great in his first Canon calls one of his own, as he was Bishop of Caesarea–ALSO INVALIDATES AND REJECTS THE BAPTISM OF HERETICS. For, in writing to Saint Cyprian, Saint Firmilian CONFIRMS AS FOLLOWS: “But who, though he has attained to the acme of perfection and of wisdom, can maintain or believe that merely the invocation of the three names of the Holy Trinity is sufficient for the remission of offences and for the sanctification of the baptism, even when, that is to say, the one baptizing IS NOT AN Orthodox Christian?
“Saint Basil the Great favors this idea, too, whose canons have also been confirmed and ratified by the Sixth Ecumenical Synod [Canon 2]. For in his first canon, with the intention of saying which baptisms are acceptable and which are unacceptable, HE DIVIDES THEM INTO TWO CLASSES, STATING: ‘For it appeared to the ancients to be a reasonable rule THAT ANY BAPTISM SHOULD BE UTTERLY DISREGARDED THAT HAS BEEN PERFORMED BY HERETICS, ON OR IN OTHER WORDS, BY THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN UTTERLY SEPARATED FROM THE CHURCH AND WHO DIFFER FROM THE ORTHODOX IN RESPECT OF Faith itself, and whose DIFFERENCES IS DIRECTLY DEPENDENT ON FAITH IN GOD. As for the baptism of schismatics, on the other hand, it appeared to the Synod of Saint Cyprian and on my own Firmilian THAT IT TOO OUGHT TO BE DISREGARDED AND REJECTED, SEEING THAT THE SCHISMATICS…HAVE SEPARATED IN PRINCIPLE FROM THE CHURCH AND AFTER SEPARATING HAVE NOT HAD THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THEM ANY LONGER, as the impartation of it HAS CEASED, thus as having become laymen they have had NEITHER THE SPIRITUAL GIFT NOR THE AUTHORITY TO BAPTIZE OR TO ORDAIN, AND CONSEQUENTLY THOSE WHO ARE BAPTIZED BY THEM, AS BEING BAPTIZED AS LAYMEN, HAVE BEEN ORDERED TO BE BAPTIZED WITH THE TRUE BAPTISM OF THE CATHOLIC ORTHODOX CHURCH.”
(Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God