OUR HOLY FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS, MARK EVGENIKOS, THE PILLAR OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

OUR HOLY FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS, MARK EVGENIKOS,
THE PILLAR OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY.

Saint Mark Evgenikos, our holy and God-bearing Father, was born in 1392. He lived the greater part of his life in Constantinople. The father of the Saint, George, was at first a Deacon and later proto-ekdikos, proto-notarios and great chartophylax of the Patriarchate. The Saint’s mother, Maria, was the daughter of the well-known physician, Loukas. Both of Saint Mark’s parents were the scions of renowned and devout families. When the Saint first beheld the light of the sun, his home was n Galata of Constantinople.

Before he embraced the Monastic life, the young Mark was named Manuel. Up until the age of thirteen, Manuel’s teacher was his father, who maintained a lecture hall and place for meditation (φροντιστήριον). From his earliest youth, the lad distinguished himself in his studies. He was also a pupil of other acclaimed educators, under whom he advanced n his studies and knowledge. When Manuel was thirteen, his father reposed. A brilliant student, he surpassed all others with his abilities. "In a short time, Manuel acquired the greatest knowledge, owing to his utmost diligence, attention, and sharp mind. In time, the holy Manuel received a complete education. Saint Mark was not only a man of learning and letters but was also adorned with a holy manner of life that evinced his dedication to Orthodoxy. He led a monastic and ascetic life as if he were an Angel living on earth.

Thus, in the words of George Scholarios, "The holy young man, who was spiritually pure, behaved more like a desert dweller than like one who dwelt in the capital, the ‘Queen of Cities.’ His demeanor and manner of life were foreign to the world about him; indeed, he was bound to nothing earthly. Nevertheless, the world weighed heavily upon, the blessed man. Among his many qualities, he possessed humility, and, therefore, he sought neither glory which is vain, nor riches that faded, nor the favor of the imperial court. The young man desired monastic perfection in the eremitic life so that he might concentrate his soul and heart in prayer and in the remembrance of God. He believed there could be no greater good than unceasing joy in the Lord and in the illumination that comes only from the remembrance of God.

Upon the brotherhood’s constant urging and insistence, Mark, with the heaviness of heart and against his will, accepted THE DIGNITY OF ORDINATION. In 1420, at twenty-eight years old, the monk Mark was made a Deacon. Then, two years later, he was ordained to the Priesthood. His brother, John, makes this comment about Mark and how he served the Divine Offices: "When Father Mark celebrated the Divine Liturgy, he was FILLED BY DIVINE INSPIRATION TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT ALL WHO BEHELD HIM SAID THAT HE APPEARED TO BE OUTSIDE OF HIMSELF, OUTSIDE EVEN THE EARTH, AND COMPLETELY IMMERSED IN GOD, LIKE AN ANGEL IN THE FLESH."

Emperor John looked upon Saint Mark with much love and respect. The emperor also respected the holy Mark’s thorough knowledge OF THE PRINCIPLES OF Orthodoxy. He also appreciated his clear and disciplined mind, which quickly perceived the errors of the enemies of Orthodoxy. With the death of Metropolitan Ioasaph of Ephesos, and for many other reasons, the emperor insisted that the holy Mark accept the See of Ephesos and be consecrated Metropolitan. He understood that Mark had a pure and INCORRUPTABLE LOVE FOR THE TRUTH AND COULD DEVELOP SOUND IDEAS. It was the emperor’s desire that Saint Mark attains this rank, so as to occupy a suitable place among the Greek representatives, namely, THE PLACE OF CHIEF THEOLOGIAN OF THE Orthodox.

The holy man did not wish to accept such a high rank; for when he took the Monastic tonsure, he had fled the world. He sensed that THE OFFICE OF BISHOP WAS BEYOND HIS WORTH AND POWERS. However, all pressed Mark to accept, asserting that his presence was indispensable for the imminent discussions with the West (Latins). They asserted that the title of Metropolitan would be a rank that the Latins (Roman Catholic) would esteem. Therefore, obedient to the Patriarch, the emperor, and to the genuine need of the True and Only Church of Christ, he submitted to the Synod and its decision for his elevation. Thus, it was plain that he accepted this high Ecclesiastical rank solely FOR THE DEFENSE OF ORTHODOXY, which he loved. Indeed, the power and genius of the holy man’s words were needed by the Orthodox, SO AS NOT TO BE LED ASTRAY BY THE INNOVATORS WHO WERE ALREADY PREPARING A WAYWARD PATH.

Shortly after his elevation, at forty-six years of age, the new Metropolitan prepared to depart for Rome. Saint Mark held high hopes for the possibility of union with the Latins. He profoundly believed in the potentiality of restoring the former unity between the two sides. Indeed, he believed in this warmly and fervently. He would labor inexhaustibly toward this aim. He said, "I followed the ecumenical Patriarch and the God-given Emperor John to the council in Italy. I did not consider my own infirmity, nor the difficulty and enormity of the undertaking. I placed my hope in God and in the common Saints shared between the Easter and Western Churches. Indeed, I believed all would proceed well with us and that we would achieve something great and worthy of all our labor and hopes."

Saint Mark, however, was a cautious man. Desiring to receive enlightenment and help from above for the mighty labor that lay ahead in Italy. Saint Mark made it clear to the council that the Orthodox hierarchs HAD NOT COME TO ITALY TO SIGN A CAPITULATION. The Orthodox would NOT SELL THE Faith for the benefit of their crumbling state. Their purpose in attending the council WAS FOR THE CONFIRMATION OF TRUE DOCTRINE. Mark, the star of the Church of Christ, made it clear to the West that THE PURITY OF ORTHODOXY MUST BE PRESERVED. He indicated that negotiations could end in failure if Rome DID NOT CONCEDE AND RENOUNCE HER INNOVATIONS. The Westerners had introduced dogmas and liturgical practices unknown to the ancient Church, WHICH HAD LED TO A SCHISM BETWEEN ROME AND BYZANTIUM. The fiery teacher of piety then said that if the Church of Rome desired to finish as well as she had begun–that is, FROM THE TIME OF THE APOSTLES–then SHE MUST RETRACT HER DOCTRINE ON THE PROCESSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND NOT PERFORM THE LITURGY WITH UNLEAVENED WAFERS (azymes). Furthermore, Saint Mark pointed out to them THAT UNION WAS JUST AS NECESSARY TO THE WEST BECAUSE ALL CHRISTIANS HAD A COMMON ENEMY–the Modern Turks.

It was visibly apparent that the Pope and his committee received Saint Mark’s address with cold disdain. When emperor John and others among the Greeks, who were not present, learned of Saint Mark’s words, they, too, were indignant. They DID NOT wish THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EAST AND WEST TO BE MENTIONED. As the real head of his committee, the emperor authorized ONLY CERTAIN PERSONS TO SPEAK WITH THE Latin delegates. He bade them NOT TO REJECT THE Latin opinion, EVEN IF THEY WERE CONTRADICTORY TO ORTHODOX DOCTRINE, but merely to look, upon every question as not yet having been decided. A solution would be reached by taking the opinions of all AS FINAL AND DECISIVE. Thereupon, it was gradually revealed to the spiritual eye of the Saint THAT THE HOPES FOR A HOLY AND PROPER UNION WOULD NOT, NAY COULD NOT, BE REALIZED.

Principle points of dispute in Doctrine were as follows: (1) THE PROCESSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT; (2) THE QUESTION OF AZYMES IN THE EUCHARIST (3) PURGATORY; AND, (4) THE PRIMACY OF THE POPE OF ROME.

THE BETRAYAL OF ORTHODOXY

At last, the end came. On the 5th of July, in the year 1439, by the signing of the ACT OF UNION, Orthodoxy WAS BETRAYED AND SOLD. The pseudo-Orthodox RENOUNCED Orthodoxy and espoused all the Latin formulas and innovations. After the emperor, all delegates, many of whom were reluctant, accepted and signed the Act of Union, whether for themselves or, in the case of some, for the Eastern Patriarchs, whom they had been entrusted to represent. None of the Greeks bothered to ask or disturb Saint Mark, all were convinced of his firmness.

Pope Eugene spoke to the emperor, provoking him to persuade the Ephesians to sign the union. The Pope sent a papal representative to Saint Mark, not to rebuke him but to pay homage to him. The representative, ordered to take a large tray with gold florins and a golden vase, was to beseech Saint Mark to accept the gifts and accept an invitation from the pope, who would receive him with honor. It should be noted that, shortly before, the pope had spoken many evil remarks against Saint Mark and threatened to cast him into the flames. The holy man not only rejected the gifts but also refused entry to any papal representative to his apartment. He said, "Tell thy lord, the pope, has he not ever heard what the Lord said to the Scribes and Pharisees? ‘Hypocrites! For ye cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, but within they are full of plunder and incontinence’ [Matthew 23:25]. In like manner hast thou, O pope, gathered unclean gold. Therefore, give it to whomever thou dost wish, ‘for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 8:21). Thy council will not be a council, and all of you shall perish." [Source:  The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

(To be continued)

______________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +



With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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