St. Athanasius, Bishop & Doctor
May 2, is dedicated in the Liturgy to Saint Athanasius, who was Bishop of Alexandria in the third and beginning of the fourth century. He dedicated himself in very difficult times to the preservation and clarification of basic Christian teaching regarding who Christ was and is.
Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God… (Acts 7: 55)
This day, May 2, is dedicated in the Liturgy to Saint Athanasius, who was Bishop of Alexandria in the third and beginning of the fourth century. He dedicated himself in very difficult times to the preservation and clarification of basic Christian teaching regarding who Christ was and is. His role in the struggles with Arianism (which denied the Incarnation) was pivotal in the continuing proclamation of God's truly having come into the flesh and blood world of creation in Jesus Christ. Athanasius suffered deeply in his life in defending the wonder that is the teaching about the Incarnation of Christ.
Today, in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles that is the first lesson for the day, we see Stephen (the first martyr in Christian history) seeking to speak of who Christ is in his own heart. God speaks truth to us and seeks to reveal that truth in a way that helps us to face ourselves in an honest way. He challenges the authorities who have him on trial to look at history: even Moses struggled with Israel's unwillingness to face truth. When we are blind to truth, we are blind to God, who is eager to free us from blindness, so that we can see who God truly is. God is absolute and total LOVE!
LOVE entered into the flesh-and-blood world of creation, and sometimes the human race simply can't deal with that wonder. The Arianism that Athanasius struggled against would not deal with it. Athanasius proclaimed in his life and struggle, suffering, and growth in his heart came to know God. God, in the Incarnation, sought and seeks to enter into the full human experience of our lives, encouraging us and the world to face ourselves and our need to fight against evil in all of the ways it seeks to blind us to our dignity, the dignity of our neighbor and to the presence of God in the midst of our lives calling us to LOVE.
Our Precious Blood spirituality takes to heart the full power of the message of the Incarnation and seeks to have us be bonded to all that it challenges to be about.
Rev. Michael Goode, C.PP.S. (Kansas City)