“Wherefore, O thrice –blessed Fathers, cease not to intercede with Christ for those who celebrate in faith and love Your all-blessed and divine feast” (Vespers Hymn)
On this feast day we remember three bishops or hierarchs. Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John called Chrysostom were staunch pillars of the Eastern Church and intrepid defenders of Christian doctrine against the heresy of the impious Arius who tried to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Saint Basil was born in Cappadocia in Asia about 330, and was Bishop of Caesarea. He died in 379.
Saint Gregory Nazianzen, called the Theologian, was born at Nazianzus in
Cappadocia about 325. He died in 390.
Saint John Chrysostom, called Golden-tongued because of his eloquence was born at Antioch about 347. He was archbishop of Constantinople. He revised our Liturgy which bears his name. He was the most eloquent preacher of the East. He died in exile in 407.
St. John Chrysostom’s Divine Liturgy is the one we celebrate on most Sundays. On Sundays during the Great Fast we celebrate St. Basil’s Divine Liturgy. St. Gregory the Theologian was a writer. He helped us understand more about how Jesus was both God and man. In the troparion we ask these three bishops to pray for us.
The feast of the three Holy Bishops was introduced in the eleventh century. In that century an argument arose among the Christians of Constantinople, who tried to decide which of these three Saints was the greatest. A great dissension broke out among the people of Constantinople. Thereupon the three Saints appeared to the saintly Bishop John of Euchydia, a suburb of Constantinople, and told him that they were equal in the eyes of God, asking him to institute a feast common to the three of them. John made the vision known to the people. Their spirits were appeased and peace returned to the Christian community.
This feast reminds us that God will provide the Church with good leaders. We live in their presence, we see the life of Christ in them, and we worship in the Holy Spirit Who dwells among men and leads us to the fullness of truth.
Since most of these Fathers of the Church were Eastern Christians, their writings are particularly in the faith-life of Eastern Churches. Along with the texts of the liturgical services, the writings of the Fathers are second in honor only to the Scriptures as sources for deepening our faith. The Church’s consistency in keeping to the direction set by the Fathers has been seen in the Christian East as a sign that we remain in the mainstream of faith set by the Holy Spirit centuries ago. This stream of faith flowing consistently from the early days of the Church is called Church Tradition.
Today we can say thank God for our rite and our beautiful traditions of our Fathers!!!