St. Athanasius

Friends in the Lord, toward the end of the 3rd century a priest named Arius began to teach a heretical idea about Jesus: He taught that Christ is not Divine, that Our Lord, while very great, even greater than an angel, he is not the God-man. This was perhaps the worst heresy to ever hit the Christian world.
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The Church called the Council of Nicea in 325. It was at this Council that was put down the Nicaean Creed which we pray every Sunday, and affirm the Divinity of Jesus Christ.
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The strongest defender of the True Faith in those days was St. Athanasius, whose feast day it is today. Even as a young Deacon, he was a critical advisor in clarifying our theology at the council of Nicaea. He himself became bishop of Alexandria, and he continued to lead the faith against the false doctrines of the Arians. In those days, emperors of the Roman Empire were determined to promote Arianism. Many bishops even fell into this heresy, but Athanasius continued to teach the True Faith, even though he was five times sent into exile.
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Despite persecution and lies spread about him by his enemies, he was unwavering in his loyalty to the Holy Faith. ‘For five years he hid in a deep cistern, to be safe from the rage of the Arians. The place was known only to one trusted friend who secretly supplied him with food. One time he was on a ship being pursued by assassins. As it got dark, Athanasius ordered the ship to double-back and sail past the enemy. As the enemy ship came along, they asked, ‘Is the ship with Athanasius far ahead?’ Athanasius himself called out, ‘He is not far from here!!’ So they sailed on , while he made his escape.
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Though he lived a life-time of danger, he died peacefully in his bed in 373AD.
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Every Sunday when we recite the Creed, we say that Christ is ‘consubstantial’ with the Father. This means he is of the same substance as the Father: Divinity. Every word in that Creed has been carefully thought through, often under persecution. That Creed represents a century of courageous efforts by our forefathers. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who stood for the Truth, especially St. Athanasius.

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