Thursday, May 3, 2012

Devotion for today: honoring St. Athanasius, “Father of Orthodoxy”

I know his feast was yesterday, but this Saint is too good to pass up.

Scripture for meditation: John 1:14, 8:58
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God…And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.”

Passage for reflection: from the Nicene Creed
Born of the Father before all ages, God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father…”

F.A. Forbes writes: “Athanasius!” called out the holy old Bishop from his deathbed. There was no reply, for the Bishop’s young assistant had fled the city in fear of being chosen as his successor. “Athanasius!’ called out the Patriarch once more. “You think you can escape, but it shall not be sol” And with these words he died. Not long afterward, the Bishops met to choose a successor for the see of Alexandria. The Catholics of the city gathered outside, crying out, “Give us Athanasius! Give us Athanasius!” The bishops knew of no one better fitted for the office. Thus began the long and exciting episcopate of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt. A counselor to his bishop at the Council of Nicea in 325, his own tenure would include conflicts with the Roman Emperors, strange and false accusations from the Arian heretics, being exiled from his diocese no less than five separate times, hairsbreadth escapes from his enemies and secret visits to his faithful people – plus, the writing of the life of St. Antony of the Desert, his good friend and the Father of Monasticism both East and West. This…”Father of Orthodoxy” … was the man chosen by God to uphold the True Faith in a time of crisis and to pass on to us the Catholic teaching that Christ is truly God (Saint Athanasius, Tan Books and Publishing, 1998).

St. Athanasius fought the Arian heresy which stated that although Jesus was holy, He was not God.

Excerpt from the Athanasius Creed:

So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity is to be worshipped. He, therefore, who wills to be in a state of salvation, let him think thus of the Trinity.
But it is necessary to eternal salvation that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The right faith therefore is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man. He is God of the substance of the Father begotten before the worlds, and He is man of the substance of His mother born in the world; perfect God, perfect man subsisting of a reasoning soul and human flesh; equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who although He be God and Man yet He is not two but one Christ; one, however, not by conversion of the Godhead in the flesh, but by taking of the Manhood in God; one altogether not by confusion of substance but by unity of Person; for as the reasoning soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ.

My thoughts: If you want to read a true adventure story filled with death-threats, lies, narrow escapes, and dedication to the truth beyond belief, read the life of St. Athanasius (296-373 AD). Hated by the Arian Bishops who sought to destroy him, threatened by Emperors who wanted him dead, beloved by his people who knew the truth of their faith, Athanasius is a role model for those of us today who refuse to bow to lies in order to be politically correct. Athanasius would never allow the Arian Heresy to infuse the faith, yet the opposition he faced among his brother Bishops and the Emperor himself reminds us of today’s battles to secure our religious freedom. Let us turn to St. Athanasius for strength to defend the one, true Catholic Faith. For a good read, go to, or purchase the book I sighted above. St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, pray for us.

Prayer: Father, You gave us St. Athanasius, Your Bishop, to defend the Divinity of Your Son. Grant that we may enjoy his teaching and protection and grow continually in our knowledge and love of You, Amen. (Lives of the Saints, Catholic Publishing Book Company, 1977)

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