*/ 1. The First Council — Nicaea (325 A.D.). This reversal of affairs was followed by a spiritual victory over heresy. A Council of all Christian Bishops was called by Emperor Constantine to decide officially what the Christian Faith consisted of, since a priest named Arius was teaching that Christ was not God but merely a unique man, and winning...

*/ 1. The rise of the Papacy. From 600 A.D. on, the question of the Papacy's role in the Church proved thornier and thornier. At the turn of that century, however, an ideal man was drafted to fill the Roman see. St. Gregory the Great shepherded his patriarchate in a truly inspired way. First of all, he was mission-minded :...

*/ 1. Icon-Smashers. The 8 th century was one of general doctrinal stability and harmony in the Western churches, but one of great turmoil for the Eastern churches. A succession of Byzantine Emperors called the iconoclasts or “ icon-smashers ” condemned the general Christian practice of venerating images (" icons ”) of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints, and...

*/ 1. Christianity's greatest tragedy. Century by century, we have been building toward a dramatic break , a catastrophic split , between the Christians in the East and the Christians in the West . I hope that prior pages have sufficiently prepared the ground so that these sorrowful and decisive moments may be understood. In the 800’s, despite cultural /...

*/ 1. The High Middle Ages. During the 12 th century, the Greek Church struggled to hold its own against the geographic expansion of the Islamic religion. Already, the Byzantine Empire was much reduced in size and influence, largely because its borders continued to be absorbed into the Muslim sphere. But as Greek Christendom shrank, the Church gained new wings...

*/ 1. Papal supremacy The Council of Florence prepared the way for a new structure in the Western church: The Councils of Constance and Basel had both decreed as a dogma of Catholicism that the highest authority in the Roman church was an ecumenical council of bishops . The Council of Florence reversed this trend and re-established the Papacy as...

*/ 1. A Renaissance man of God. One fascinating man unites in his experience all the Christian currents of the 16 th century: St. Maximus the Greek studied in Florence, Italy, the cradle of the Renaissance (the rebirth of pagan culture) and eagerly pursued Humanist ideals . (Humanism was a way of thought which strove to place mankind, instead of...

*/ 1. The Holy Mountain. Perhaps the greatest bulwark of our Faith at this time was Mount Athos , the Holy Mountain , a peninsula in Greece teeming with monasteries populated by monks of all Orthodox national backgrounds. While Orthodox people were busy bartering their rich cultural heritage for Western fads, Mt. Athos preserved the culture and faith of Eastern...

*/ 1. Grass-roots Orthodox revival. In the face of oppression and obstruction, as well as foreign influence, God granted Orthodoxy outstanding Saints to reinvigorate His Church: St. Nicodemus of Mt. Athos (+1809) compiled the Philokalia , the teachings of the Holy Fathers on interior prayer of the heart. St. Paisius , who lived on Athos and then in Moldavia, founded...

*/ 1. An ocean of blood. In the year 1917 , a horrific calamity befell the Christian world: A revolution overthrew the Orthodox Tsar of Russia, and the “ Third Rome ” fell to atheistic Communists. In many ways, this event signalled the end of the Church's prosperous “ Constantine’s Era ” and the return of a martyr’s age: Over...