Thursday, June 24, 2010
When he was severely persecuted by the emperor and exiled 5 times from his See of Alexandria, Athanasius the Great was once told: O Athanasius, the entire world is against you. To which, he replied: And I am against the world!
One thing that moves me about Athanasius is his perseverence for the truth even if it meant persecution and martyrdom. The hero of Christian faith in the first Ecumenical Council at Nicea (325 AD), he succeeded his Patriarch on the Apostolic See of Alexandria. He immediately worked hard to regain people lost to the Arian heresy. From 319 AD Arius, a priest in Alexandria, had preached a distorted view of the relationship of Christ to God the Father. Arius claimed that the Son (Christ) was not God but only a creature, the first of all creatures. At the Council, the young Athanasius argued that the Son was God from God. Inspired by his defence, the Council produced the Nicene Creed which was further developed at the second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople (381 AD). The amazing thing is the insistence of Athanasius to use a Greek expression for the divinity of the Son emanating from the divinity of the Father although this expression "homoosious" was not Biblical. This movement under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is a sign of the development of doctrine in Catholic teaching, which was recently promulgated in the Second Vatican Council (Dei Verbum 8).
Athanasius is invoked not only as a saint, but also as a doctor of the Church (teacher for all generations).