The Creed of St. Athanasius
Feast Day: May 2nd
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary, that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which faith, except everyone do keep entire and inviolate, without doubt he will perish everlastingly.
Now the Catholic Faith is this; that we worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all One; the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also they are not three uncreates, nor three incomprehensibles; but one uncreate, and one incomprehensible. In like manner the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet not three almighties, but one almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Ghost is Lord. And yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord; so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion, to say there are three Gods, or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is from the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is from the Father and the Son, not made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity, there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less; but the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity is to be worshipped in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity. He, therefore, that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation, that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and Man.
He is God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the world; and He is man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect man; of reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father according to His Godhead; and less than the Father according to His Manhood.
Who, although He be both God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ; One, not by the conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by the taking of the Manhood unto God; One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and the flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ.
Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven; He sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.
This is the Catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully and steadfastly, he cannot be be saved.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. Amen.
St. Athanasius, Bishop of AlexandriaSt. Athanasius, the great Doctor of the Church, and intrepid defender of the Catholic faith, was born. at Alexandria, the Capital of Egypt, in the year of our Lord 294. His parents, who belonged to the nobility, were also God-fearing people, and Athanasius was gifted by the Almighty with such great talents, that when still very young in years, he had already made unusual progress in sacred as well as profane science. He was, however, not less assiduous in the practice of virtue and piety than he was in his studies. Desirous of leading a holy life he went to the hermit Anthony, and remained two years under him. He would probably never have left him, had not Alexander, the Patriarch of Alexandria, recalled him to the city, that he might aid him against the heretics, which he faithfully did. The Patriarch made St. Athanasius his companion to the celebrated Council of Nice, where, although he was at that time only deacon, he refuted the Arian heresy so thoroughly, that all present admired his skill and erudition. This, however, drew upon him the hatred of the Arians to such a degree, that until his death they regarded him as their worst enemy, and persecuted him in all possible ways. Shortly before the death of St. Alexander he left the city secretly, fearing that he might be chosen as his successor. The Patriarch, informed of this, said with prophetic inspiration: "Athanasius, Athanasius, you think to save yourself by flight; but it will not release you from the Patriarchal Chair." After the death of St. Alexander, neither the clergy nor the people would have any other patriarch than Athanasius. For six months they searched everywhere for him, and at length, when he was found, he yielded with many tears to the general wish. Experience showed that his election as Patriarch was really ordained by God for the welfare of the faithful. He proved himself a watchful shepherd over his flock, as well as a kind father to the poor. There was hardly a place in his large diocese which he did not visit yearly, and everywhere he frequently preached. In his own life he was very austere and kept a rigorous fast.
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877
The Arians endeavored, at first, to prevent him from being raised to the dignity of Patriarch, and, not succeeding in this, they tried to make him hateful to the people, as well as to the Emperor, by the most horrible calumnies. The Emperor ordered Athanasius to defend himself against these accusations in a Council which was held at Tyre. The greater part of the Bishops who were present at this Council were followers of Arius, and hence, bitter enemies of the Saint, nevertheless he appeared before them. The first witness against him was a disreputable woman, whose evidence had been bought with money. She, without even knowing the Saint by sight, said that he had taken lodgings in her house, and had done violence to her. Timotheus, a priest, who was on the side of Athanasius, pretended to be the Patriarch, and addressing the wicked woman, said, "What! have I taken lodgings at your house? Have I forced you to so gross a sin?" "Yes;" answered she; "you have done this," and confirmed her words with an oath. The whole assemblage, although mostly against the Saint, were obliged to acknowledge the falsity of the accusations and the innocence of Athanasius.
The Arians, finding that this conspiracy did not succeed, soon found something else wherewith to charge him. They had some time previously spread abroad the rumor that Athanasius had killed a certain bishop, named Arsenius, and that he used the right hand of the dead man to practise witchcraft. They even showed a hand in a box, maintaining that it was the hand of Arsenius. The bishop himself, who was still alive, they kept hidden that the falsity of their accusation might not be discovered. But God brought it to pass that Arsenius, escaped from imprisonment and arrived at the house of St. Athanasius just as the latter was summoned before the Council. At the moment when he was accused of the murder of the bishop, he had Arsenius brought before the assemblage, and pointing to the two hands of the bishop, again overwhelmed his enemies with shame and confusion. The latter, becoming more and more enraged, prevailed at length upon the otherwise pious Emperor Constantine to banish the Saint to Trieste. After the Emperor's death, Constantine, his successor, recalled Athanasius, and sent him with a letter of safe conduct to his See. The Catholics received their holy Patriarch with great joy, which, however, did not last long, as the Arians had chosen a bishop of their own sect, who drove Athanasius, with arms in hand, out of the city.
Proceeding to Rome he sought and found assistance from the Pope, who, after having tried the Saint in a special Council and found him innocent of the accusations against him, requested the Emperor to restore him again in his See. The request was granted, but the Arian heretics became so infuriated, that they once more drove St. Athanasius away. He then lived for five years concealed in a cistern, where his food was brought to him,by an intimate friend. At the commencement of the reign of the Emperor Julian, he returned to his flock for the third time. Hearing, however, that the Emperor, at the instigation of the heretics, had issued an order to take his life, he scarcely escaped, with some friends, on a vessel; but soon retracing his steps, he returned to the city, where he remained concealed until the Emperor's death. During the reign of the pious Emperor, Jovian, he appeared again in public and ruled his church with great zeal. After the death of Jovian, Valens, a protector of the Arians, came to the throne, when the latter, as a first favor, requested the Emperor to banish Athanasius from his See. He willingly acceded to their wish, but before the order could be executed, Athanasius had concealed himself in the tomb of his father. The Christians at Alexandria were at length unwilling to suffer any longer the absence of their shepherd, and began publicly to make complaints. The Emperor, fearing an insurrection, gave orders to search for Athanasius, and in future to leave him unmolested in his Church. The orders were carried out, and the holy patriarch, who had suffered so many persecutions, administered the affairs of his Episcopate peacefully until his death.
St. Athanasius was in all his dangers and persecutions magnanimous and of undisturbed mind. When he saved himself by flight, or concealed himself from his enemies, it was in order to be able longer to assist the Catholics and to protect them against the heretics. Those who pitied him in his exile or other adversities he comforted with the words: "This storm will soon pass over." But when they represented to him the displeasures of the Arian Emperors, which he drew upon himself by his zeal for the true faith, he always undauntedly replied: "I fear God only, not men."
The Roman Martyrology says of him as follows: "At Alexandria, the feast of St. Athanasius, bishop of the same city, who was great in learning and holiness, but whom the whole world seems to have conspired to persecute. He nevertheless bravely defended the Catholic faith from the reign of Constantine to that of Valens, against the Emperors, governors, and numberless Arian bishops, from all of whom he suffered many persecutions, and was driven about from place to place. At last he was permitted to return to his Church, from which he was called to God in the reign of the Emperors Valentinian and Valens, after having been priest during 46 years, and after having valiantly fought many battles and earned many crowns of patience."
There exists at this day a creed which bears the name of St. Athanasius. It commences thus: "Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he believe the Catholic faith. Whosoever keep it not wholly and inviolably, without doubt, shall be eternally lost."
Many, however, say that this creed was not written by Athanasius, but that others composed it out of the Saint's works. Nevertheless, it has been received by many non-Catholics, even by Luther himself, as a true creed. The word "Catholic," Luther changed into " Christian," which, however, is a wicked forgery. But it is easy to perceive why this was done. It was too clear in the above words that the Catholic faith is necessary for salvation and that those who have died out of its pale are lost. This sentence of Athanasius, or of some other ancient teacher, did not suit Luther and he therefore substituted the word " Christian" for "Catholic;" as if anybody could be really a Christian without being a Catholic. He had before made a similar interpolation in the ninth article of the Apostles' creed; indeed the whole heresy is a tissue of corruption and falsehood.
Practical ConsiderationsI. "This storm will soon pass over." With these words St. Athanasius comforted himself as well as others. The persecutions he compared to a storm which, although sometimes violent and fierce, does not last long. It is generally followed by cheerful weather and bright sunshine which last longer than the storm. The Saint had often had personal experience .of this. At last, however, the persecutions ceased, and he possessed his See in peace. But even had adversity followed him to the end of his days, still his words above mentioned would remain true. The trials would have passed, would soon have ended, because St. Jerome rightly says: "What ends with time is of short duration," in comparison with Eternity. May you also comfort yourself with the recollection of these words when a storm assails you. It will soon pass away; it will cease; it lasts not for ever. But still, during the storm, do not neglect to follow the example of the Apostles, who, while a tempest lashed the waves of the ! sea, cried :" Lord save us, we perish." Your God has still the power to calm wind and sea. "The winds and the sea obey him" (Math. viii.).
II. St. Athanasius is wrongfully accused of the most horrible vice. He defends himself, exposes the falsity of his calumniators, brings his innocence to light, but demands no vengeance of God, neither does he curse or hate his enemies. God permits you to defend yourself, if you are calumniated or falsely accused of wickedness, but he does not permit you to hate or curse your enemies, nor to demand or take vengeance on them. "Vengeance belongeth to me ; "says He, " and I will repay." "The Lord is a Lord of vengeance," says David, not man. If you desire to take vengeance on your enemy, you anticipate the Lord to your own great damage, as he says: "He that seeketh to revenge himself shall find vengeance from the Lord" (Eccles. xxviii.). Such a man harms himself much more than he can harm his neighbor with all his vengeance. St. Lawrence Justinian says: "Those who desire to take vengeance on others manifest clearly that they are children of hell, where the fire is never quenched."
Quote of St. AthanasiusI. My most loving Saint, behold me kneeling at thy feet, beseeching thee with all the affection of my heart to grant me thy special protection, particularly when in danger of offending God. O my dear and holy advocate, remember me before the throne of the most holy Trinity, and obtain for me from the infinite goodness of God, the virtues of humility, purity, obedience, and the grace to fulfill exactly the duties of my state.
"Chastity, thou precious pearl, found by few, even hated by some, and sought only by those who are worthy of thee! Thou art the joy of the prophets, the ornament of the apostles, the life of the angels, the crown of the saints."
Novena to Saint Athanasius
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.II. O my dear Saint Athanasius, I renew to the Lord, through thee, thy the holy resolutions which I have frequently made of intending to love and serve Him faithfully. I am resolved to detach myself from every earthly thing, and I desire ardently to unite myself to Him, as my first beginning, last end, and sovereign good. My dear St.Athanasius, I beseech thee to offer to the most holy Trinity the sacrifice of my whole being, particularly of my judgment and will, in order to conform fully to God most holy, because I desire nothing else besides His grace and His holy love.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.III. My sweet and holy Protector St. Athanasius, behold me again full of love for thee and full of confidence, beseeching thee to cast thyself on thy knees before the throne of the most holy Trinity, and entreat most ardently that God, through His infinite goodness, may grant me the grace to fly sin, and the gift of final perseverance. Thou knowest, O my dear Saint , how great are the temptations to which man is subject, and how continual are the perils I run of being lost; do thou assist me with thy efficacious payers.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory.
Supplication To The Most Holy TrinityMost holy, most august, most amiable and divine Trinity, I fall prostrate before the throne of Thy immense majesty, and full of the sweetest confidence, I present to Thee the merits of .this, Thy servant, and those, moreover, of holy Mary, whom Thou hast given me as a most loving Mother, Queen, and Advocate. Therefore, I beseech Thee, in view of their merits, be pleased to grant me the graces which I particularly desire.... O Lord, I hope in Thee, let me not be confounded. Grant my prayer, O Lord, and have pity on me.
Ant. Well done, thou good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
V. The Lord led the just man through right paths, And showed him the kingdom of God.
Let us pray:
May the intercession of the blessed Athanasius we beseech Thee, O Lord, commend us to Thee; that what we cannot obtain by our own merits, we may receive by his patronage; through our Lord. Amen
Sermon of St. AthanasiusIn the law there was a precept that cities of refuge should be established, so that those who in any way soever were sought for to be put to death, might have means of saving themselves. And in the consummation of the ages, when that same Word of the Father was come among us, who before had spoken to Moses, he gave this commandment again, saying: When they shall persecute you in this city, flee into another. And a little later he added: When you shall see that abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (he that readeth, let him understand), then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains; and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house; and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat.
Knowing these things, the Saints ordered their own conduct accordingly. For what the Lord now commanded, was the same also as he had spoken through his Saints before his coming in the flesh; and this rule leads men to perfection. For what God has commanded is most certainly to be done. And so the Word Himself, made man for us, did not disdain to hide himself even as we do, when he was sought after; and when he suffeed persecution, to flee and avoid the snares. But when He Himself had arrived at the time He had appointed, wherein He willed to suffer in the body for all, He gave Himself up of His own accord to the snares.
Holy men, then, having learnt this example of the Saviour (for they were all taught by him, whether of old or in these latter days), acted lawfully in their struggles against their persecutors, by fleeing and by hiding themselves when sought after. For since they did not know the end of time appointed for them by divine providence, they would not rashly give themselves up to those who lay in wait for them; but on the other hand, knowing that it is written, that in the hands of God are the lots of men, and that the Lord kills and makes live; they rather persevered unto the end, going about, as the Apostle says, in sheepskins and goatskins, being in want, distressed, wandering in deserts, and lying hid in dens and caves of the earth, until either the time appointed for their death should come, or God, Who had appointed that same time, should speak with them, and restrain their snares, or else give them over to their persecutors, according as seemed good to Him.
Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
by Father Prosper Gueranger 1870
Never did our holy Faith go through a greater ordeal, than in the sad times immediately following the peace of the Church, when the Bark of Peter had to pass through the most furious storm that hell has, so far, let loose against her. Satan had vainly sought to drown the Christian race in a sea of blood; the sword of persecution had grown blunt in the hands of Dioclesian and Galerius; and the Cross appeared in the heavens, proclaiming the triumph of Christianity. Scarcely had the Church become aware of her victory, when she felt herself shaken to her very foundation. Hell sent upon the earth a heresy which threatened to blight the fruit of three hundred years of Martyrdom. Arius began his impious doctrine, that He, who had hitherto been adored as the Son of God, was only a creature, though the most perfect of all creatures. Immense was the number, even of the clergy, that fell into this new error; the Emperors became its abettors; and had not God Himself interposed, men would soon have set up the cry throughout the world, that the only result of the victory gained by the Christian Religion, was to change the object of idolatry, and put a new idol, called Jesus, in place of the old ones.
But He Who had promised, that the gates of hell should never prevail against His Church, faithfully fulfilled His promise. The primitive faith triumphed; the Council of Nicaea proclaimed the Son to be consubstantial to the Father; but the Church stood in need of a man in whom the cause of the Consubstantial Word should be, so to speak, incarnated, a man, with learning enough to foil the artifices of heresy, and with courage enough to bear every persecution without flinching. This man was Athanasius: and every one that adores and loves the Son of God, should love and honour Athanasius. Five times banished from his See of Alexandria by the Arians, who even sought to put him to death, he fled for protection to the West, which justly appreciated the glorious Confessor of Jesus' Divinity. In return for the hospitality accorded him by Rome, Athanasius gave her of his treasures. Being the admirer and friend of the great St. Antony, he was a fervent admirer of the Monastic Life, which, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, had flourished so wonderfully in the deserts of his vast Patriarchate. He brought the precious seed to Rome, and the first Monks seen there were the ones introduced by Athanasius. The heavenly plant became naturalized in its new soil; and though its growth was slow at first, it afterwards produced fruit more abundantly than it had ever done in the East.
Athanasius, who has written so admirably upon that fundamental dogma of our Faith, the Divinity of Christ, has also left us most eloquent treatises on the mystery of the Pasch: they are to be found in the Festal Letters, which he addressed, each year, to the Churches of his Patriarchate of Alexandria. The collection of these Letters, which were once thought to have been irretrievably lost, was found, a few years back, in the Monastery of St. Mary of Scete, in Egypt. The first, for the year 329, begins with these words, which beautifully express the sentiments we should feel at the approach of Easter: " Come, my beloved Brethren, celebrate the Feast; the season of the year invites you to do so. The Sun of Justice, by pouring out his divine rays upon you, tells you that the time of the Solemnity is come. At such tidings, let us keep a glad feast; let not the joy slip from us, with the fleeting days, without our having tasted of its sweetness." During almost every year of his banishment, Athanasius continued to address a Paschal Letter to his people. The one in which he announces the Easter of 338, and which he wrote at Treves, begins thus: " Though separated from you, my Brethren, I cannot break through the custom which I have always observed, and which I received from the tradition of the Fathers. I will not be silent; I will not omit announcing to you the time of the holy annual Feast, and the day on which you must keep the Solemnity. I am, as you have doubtless been told, a prey to many tribulations; I am weighed down by heavy trials; I am watched by the enemies of truth, who scrutinise everything I write, in order to rake up accusations against me and, thereby, add to my sufferings; yet notwithstanding, I feel that the Lord strengthens and consoles me in my afflictions. Therefore do I venture to address to you the annual celebration; and from the midst of my troubles, and despite the snares that beset me, I send you, from the further most part of the earth, the tidings of the Pasch, which is our salvation. Commending my fate into God's hands, I will celebrate this Feast with you; distance of place separates us, but I am not absent from you. The Lord Who gives us these Feasts, Who is Himself our Feast, Who bestows upon us the gift of His Spirit, He unites us spiritually to one another, by the bond of concord and peace."
How grand is this Pasch, celebrated by Athanasius an exile on the Rhine, in union with his people who keep their Easter on the banks of the Nile! It shows us the power of the Liturgy, to unite men together, and make them, at one and the same time, and despite the distance of countries, enjoy the same holy emotions, and feel the same aspirations to virtue. Greeks or Barbarians, we have all the same mother-country, the Church; but what, after Faith, unites us all into one family, is the Church's Liturgy. Now there is nothing, in the whole Liturgy, so expressive of unity, as the celebration of Easter.
The unhappy Churches of Russia and the East, by keeping Easter on a different day from that on which it is celebrated by the rest of the Christian World, show that they are not a portion of the One Fold of which our Risen Jesus is the One Shepherd.
Hail, O Athanasius! model of virtue, most brave defender of the Faith! who didst courageously rout the impiety of Arius by the force of thy venerable words. Thou didst preach the power of the Godhead, one in three Persons, which made all creatures, both spiritual and material, out of nothing, solely because of His own infinite goodness. Thou explainedst to us the difficult mysteries of the divine operation. Pray for us to Christ, that He grant to our souls His great mercy.
Hail thou rock of the Patriarchs! sweet-voiced trumpet, admirable mind, most persuasive tongue, most clear seeing eye, interpreter of true dogmas, true shepherd, most brilliant lamp, axe that felled the whole forest of heresies, and burned them with the fire of the Holy Spirit, most firm pillar, unshaken tower, preaching the supersubstantial power of the Three Persons! pray Them, that They grant plenteous mercy to our souls.
O Father! thou armedst the Church with the divine dogmas of orthodoxy: thy teachings were a death-blow to heresy; thou finishedest thy holy course, and, like Paul, thou didst keep the faith; as to the rest, there was laid up for thee, O glorious Athanasius, a crown justly won by thy labours.
Like a star that never sets, even now that thou art dead, thou enlightenest the Faithful throughout the world with the rays of thy teaching, O wise Pontiff Athanasius!
Guided by the Holy Ghost, thou, O holy Pontiff, turning thy mind to the sublimest contemplations, didst investigate the hidden treasures of the divine oracles, and distributedst their riches unto men.
Like a high and shining tower of divine truths, thou guidest all that are tossed on the sea of error, leading them, by the calm beauty of thy words, to the tranquil haven of grace.
General of God's army, thou didst put to flight the ranks of the Lord's enemies, courageously destroying them with the sword of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Father! thou hadst the fountain of Life within thy heart, and thou wateredst the whole earth.
In thy flesh, O holy Father, thou filledst up the sufferings of Christ, suffering many persecutions for His Church.
Learn justice, O all ye inhabitants of earth, from the holy words of Athanasius; for, by his faith, he was as the mouth of the Eternal Word.
O blessed one! thou didst make the Church of Christ to be indeed a paradise, for thou sowedst in her the holy word, tearing up the thorns of heresy.
O God-bearing Saint! thou wast a river of grace, a spiritual Nile, bringing to the Faithful the good fruits of holy doctrine, refreshing us all, and nourishing the whole earth.
With the staff of thy teachings, thou drovest heretical wolves far from the Church of Christ. Thou didst encompass and defend her with the fortifications of thy words, and presentedst her sound and safe to Christ. Beseech Him, therefore, that He would deliver from perversion and all dangers us who faithfully celebrate thine ever venerable memory.
PrayerThou wast throned, O Athanasius! on the Chair of Mark in Alexandria; and thy name is emblazoned near his on the sacred Cycle. He left Rome, sent, by Peter himself, to found the second Patriarchal See; and thou, three centuries later, visitedst Rome, as successor of Mark, to seek protection from Peter's successor against them that were disturbing thy venerable See by injustice and heresy. Our Western Church was thus honoured by thy presence, O intrepid defender of the Faith! She looked on thee with veneration, as the glorious Exile, the courageous Confessor; and she has chronicled thy sojourning in her midst as an event of dearest interest.
Intercede for the country over which was extended thy Patriarchal jurisdiction; but forget not this Europe of ours, which gave thee hospitality and protection. Rome defended thy cause; she passed sentence in thy favour, and restored thee thy rights; make her a return, now that thou art face to face with the God of infinite goodness and power. Protect and console her Pontiff, the successor of that Julius who so nobly befriended thee, fifteen hundred years ago. A fierce tempest is now raging against the Rock, on which is built the Church of Christ; and our eyes have grown wearied looking for a sign of calm. Oh! pray, that these days of trial be shortened, and that the See of Peter may triumph over the calumnies and persecutions which are now besetting her, and endangering the faith of many of her children.
Thy zeal, O Athanasius! checked the ravages of Arianism; but this heresy has again appeared, in our own times and in almost every country of Europe. Its progress is due to that proud superficial learning, which has become one of the principal perils of the age. The Eternal Son of God, Consubstantial to the Father, is blasphemed by our so-called Philosophers, as being only Man, the best and greatest of men, they say, but still, only Man. They despise all the proofs which reason and history adduce of Jesus' being God; they profess a sort of regard for the Christian teaching which has hitherto been held, but they have discovered, (so they tell us,) the fallacy of the great Dogma, which recognizes, in the Son of Mary, the Eternal Word, Who became Incarnate for man's salvation. O Athanasius, glorious Doctor of holy Mother Church! humble these modern Arians; expose their proud ignorance and sophistry; undeceive their unhappy followers, by letting them see how this false doctrine leads either to the abyss of the abominations of Pantheism, or to the chaos of Scepticism, where all truth and morality are impossibilities.
Preserve within us, by the influence of thy prayers, the precious gift of Faith, wherewith our Lord has mercifully blessed us. Obtain for us, that we may ever confess and adore Jesus Christ as our eternal and infinite God; "God of God; Light of Light; True God of True God; Begotten, not made; Who, for us men, and for our salvation, took Flesh of the Virgin Mary." May we grow, each day, in the knowledge of this Jesus, until we join thee in the face-to-face contemplation of His perfections. Meanwhile, by means of holy Faith, we will live with him on this earth, that has witnessed the glory of His Resurrection. How fervent, O Athanasius, was thy love of this Son of God, our Creator and Redeemer! This love was the very life of thy soul, and the stimulus that urged thee to heroic devotedness to his cause. It supported thee in the combats thou hadst to sustain with the world, which seemed leagued together against thy single person. It gave thee strength to endure endless tribulations. Oh! pray that we may get this same love, a love which is fearless of danger, because faithful to Him for Whom we suffer, a love which is so justly due, seeing that He, though the Brightness of His Father's glory, and Infinite Wisdom, emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross (Philipp. ii. 7, 8). How else can we make Him a return for this His devotedness to us, except by giving Him all our love, as thou didst, O Athanasius! and by striving to compensate the humiliations He endured for our salvation, by ever singing His praise?
Prayer of Saint Athanasius
from Glories of Mary St. Alphonsus
Give ear to our prayers, O most Holy Virgin, and be mindful of us. Dispense unto us the gifts of thy riches, and the abundance of the graces with which thou art filled. The archangel saluted thee, and called thee full of grace. All nations call thee blessed. The whole hierarchy of heaven blesses thee: and we, who are of the terrestrial hierarchy, also address thee, saying : Hail, O full of grace, onr Lord is with thee; pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, our Lady and our Queen.
May God console you! . . . What saddens you ... is the fact that others have occupied the Churches by violence, while during this time you are on the outside. It is a fact that they have the premises--but you have the Apostolic Faith. They can occupy our Churches, but they are outside the True Faith. You remain outside the places of worship, but the Faith dwells within you. Let us consider: what is more important, the place or the Faith? The True Faith, obviously. Who has lost and who has won in this struggle--the one who keeps the premises or the one who keeps the Faith?
True, the premises are good when the Apostolic Faith is preached there; they are holy if everything takes place there in a holy way . . .
You are the ones who are happy; you who remain within the Church by your Faith, who hold firmly to the foundations of the Faith which has come down to you from Apostolic Tradition. And if an execrable jealousy has tried to shake it on a number of occasions, it has not succeeded. They are the ones who have broken away from it in the present crisis.
No one, ever, will prevail against your faith, beloved brothers. And we believe that God will give us our Churches back some day.
Thus, the more violently they try to occupy the places of worship, they more they separate themselves from the Church. They claim that they represent the Church; but in reality, they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray.
Even if Catholics faithful to tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the True Church of Jesus Christ.
(Coll. selecta SS. Eccl. Patrum, Caillau and Guillou, Vol. 32, pp. 411-412)...In those perilous times, God raised up many holy pastors, whom He animated with His spirit, and strengthened in the defense of His truth. Among these St. Athanasius was the most illustrious champion. By his undaunted courage, and unparalleled greatness of soul under the most violent persecutions, he merited a crown equal to that of the most glorious martyrs: by his erudition, eloquence, and writings he holds an illustrious place among the principal doctors of the church ; and by the example of his virtue, by which he rivaled the most renowned anchorets of the deserts, and the most holy confessors, he stemmed the torrent of scandal and iniquity, which threatened to bear down all before it.
From the Butlers Lives of Saints, 1821
A Portrait of the Virtues"He was most humble and lowly in mind, as his virtue was most sublime and inimitable. He was most courteous to all, and every one had easy access to him. He was meek, gentle, compassionate, amiable in his discourse, but much more so in his life; of an angelical disposition; mild in his reproofs, and instructive in his commendations; in both which he observed such even measures, that his reproof spoke the kindness of a father, and his commendation the authority of a master; as neither was his indulgence over tender, nor his severity harsh. His life supplied the place of sermons, and his sermons prevented correction. In him all ranks might find enough to admire, and enough to imitate; one might commend his unwearied austerity in fasting and prayer; another his perseverance in watchings and the divine praises; a third his admirable care of the poor, a fourth his courage in checking the injustice of the rich, or his condescension to the humble."
of Saint Athanasius in Private Life
by St. Gregory Nazianzen
Thus St. Gregory Nazianzen, who says he was a load-stone to dissenters, drawing them to his opinion, unless hardened in malice; and always at least raising in them a secret reverence and veneration for his person; but that he was an adamant to his persecutors ; no more capable of impressions against justice, than a rock of marble is of yielding to any slight touch. After innumerable combats, and as many great victories, this glorious saint, having governed the church of Alexandria forty-six years, was called to a life exempt from labor and suffering, on the second of May, on a Thursday, in the year 373.
He ended his life in a holy old age, and went to keep company with his fathers, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and martyrs, who had fought valiantly for the truth, as he had done: and to comprise his epitaph "in few words, he departed this life with far greater honor and glory than what he had received in his more than triumphant entries into Alexandria, when he returned from his blandishments: so much was his death lamented by all good men; and the immortal glory of his name remained imprinted in their hearts." He desires the saint "to look down upon him from heaven, to favor and assist him in the government of his flock, and to preserve it in the true faith: and if, for the sins of the world, heretics were to prevail against it, to deliver him from these evils, and to bring him, by his intercession, to enjoy God in his company."
The humility, modesty, and charity of this great saint; his invincible meekness towards his enemies, who were the most implacable and basest of men, and the heroic fortitude, patience, and zeal, by which he triumphed over the persecutions of almost the whole world confederated against him, and of four emperors, Constantine, Constantius, Julian, and Valens, three of whom employed wiles, stratagems, and hypocrisy, and sometimes open force to destroy him: these, I say, and all other eminent virtues, have rendered his name venerable in the church to the latest ages, which he ceases not to instruct and edify by his writings.
Quotes of St. Athanasius
"Even if Catholics faithful to tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ."
"We do not worship a creature. Inconceivable! For such an error belongs to heathens and Arians. Rather, we worship the Lord of creation, the Incarnate Word of God, knowing that the Word was made flesh (John. 1:14), we recognize Him as God even after He has come into the flesh."
Music: Dominus dixit ad me
6th Century Old Roman Chant.
Psalm 2: 7: The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.
Psalm 2: 1-5: Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord and against his Christ. Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us. He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them. Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage.