Commemorated on August 30th
St Alexander Patriarch of Constantinople
Many great figures of Christianity came to be identified with the classic confrontation with heresy which brought about the historic Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea in 325 AD. However, only one man was selected to be the personal representative of the Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, at whose bidding the momentous meeting was convened.
The man chosen by the Byzantine leader was Fr Alexander of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, a highly respected spokesman for the Church of Christ whose voice against heresy still echoes in the chambers of Christendom. The concept of the Holy Trinity, the cornerstone of the Christian faith, holds that Jesus Christ is part of the eternal existence of God in the infinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for which there is no beginning and no end and in which Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega of life. When the doctrine of Arianism, so called for its sponsor Arius, an aging Alexandrian priest, was introduced, it found acceptance with an alarming number of good Christians who failed to see the menace posed by what can only be called this heretical approach.
It was ready to fall prey to the Arian teaching that Christ was a creation of God and that, therefore, there was a time when He did not exist. It was the task of Fr Alexander and other members of the Council to make clear to the finite minds of all Christians that Arianism undermined the pure and basic concept on which the Christian faith is founded. Furthermore, an acceptance of any modification of the Trinity would so tarnish the golden truth of Jesus Christ as to lead to the eventual elimination of Christianity as the most invisible force in the history of man.
Fr Alexander's early life remains obscure except that it is noted that he was cast in the classic mould of scholar and thinker and that he never strayed from the honourable path that led him straight to the Patriarchate itself. In this hallowed hall of Orthodoxy, he distinguished himself with such patient dedication and genuine reverence that he came to be known as the alter ego of the Patriarch Metrophanes, by whom he was singled out to be brought to the attention of the emperor as a qualified spokesman for Christianity through the high office of the patriarch and, thereby, the spokesman for Jesus Christ.
At the Synod of Nicaea, Fr Alexander earned the respect of that great body of prelates assembled to determine the fate of the Christian Church. He was privileged in this historic conclave to have the company of such great men as St Athanasios, who was, according to the historian Edward Gibbon, better qualified to rule the Byzantine Empire than any of the sons of Constantine. It can be added that Fr Alexander proved himself at Nicaea to be eminently qualified to lead not only in the battle against Arianism but in the fight against all the forces of evil that menaced Christianity. It was the eloquence of Fr Alexander, among others, that stemmed the rising tide of Arianism at Nicaea and let to its ultimate elimination.
Patriarch Metrophanes had a dream in which it was made clear to him that he would soon die and enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and forthwith named Fr Alexander to be his successor. When the Metrophanes' dream became a reality as foreordained, Fr Alexander became Patriarch Alexander, and as the spiritual leader of the millions of Orthodox Christians proved himself a worthy vicar of Christ.
St Alexander served as Patriarch for 30 years and died happy in the knowledge that Arianism would never again menace the sacred Orthodox dogma.
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to You gentleness; do not take Your mercy from us, but by St Alexander's entreaties guide our life in peace.
To you, the Champion Leader
A Flame with love for Christ, you took His yoke upon yourself; and since you emulated well His life upon the earth, you were also made partaker of His great glory. Now, O Father Alexander the divinely wise, stand before His throne; wherefore, fervently intercede with Him to save our souls.