THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: ST. ATHANASIUS’ DEFENCE OF ORTHODOXY
“One cannot possibly understand the teaching of the saints unless one has a pure mind and is trying to imitate their life.” – St. Athanasius
St. Athanasius of Alexandria is a Church Father with outstanding qualities and he is best known as “the Father of orthodoxy.” Orthodoxy is the adherence to the norms and creed of religion. A total acceptance of the teachings of Christ as deposited and taught by the Magisterium (the teachng office of the Catholic Church), Sacred Traditions and Sacred Scriptures. While the Saint is remembered for his tireless defence of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, he is also remarkable for his works on the Holy Spirit. The Arians led by Arius erroneously taught that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and a creature of God the Father. The foregoing view fails to belief and understand the equality in divinity that exist between God the Father and God the Son.
In order to correct the viewpoint of the Arians, St. Athanasius firstly emphasised the essential affiliation of the Son with the Father. On a second note, he stressed the doctrine of “deification” as the purpose of men’s salvation. This informs the Athanasian saying “The Son of God became Man so that we might become God.” It is pertinent to note that “deification” is not understood as a pagan idea whereby a human is changed into a divine being, but rather denotes that the disciple of Christ has complete entry into the sphere of Christ. More so, deification is about the grace of God through the Holy Spirit for us Christians to enjoy union with Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that brings about this union.
From St. Athanasius we affirm that the Holy Spirit is one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity and His roles and works in redemption are significant and in perfect unity and perfect distinction in the Godhead. He defended the orthodox teaching of the Holy Spirit through Scripture and common sense.
In our contemporary era, there are lots of questions raised against the teachings of Christ and His Church. So much so that many pick and choose what to believe and practise as disciples of Christ. For instance, about the Eucharist, Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:66–68). Friends in Christ, reading and listening to different religious leaders and founders, have you ever heard them speak this way like Jesus? For instance, Moses could say to the Israelites that they must love the Torah more than their father and mother. Mohammed could say to his adherents that they must love the Qu,ran more than their father and mother. But none of them or other religious leaders and founders could say you must love me more than your father and mother, brothers and sisters and even yourself before you can qualify to be my disciple. This is serious and it will be possible only through the wisdom and innocence of God and the gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit. Note, “Wisdom is about not compromising truth. And innocence means not compromising goodness” (G. K. Chesterton)
- What really do you believe and understand about the Holy Spirit?
- What is the content of your orthodoxy as a disciple of Christ and His Church?
- What steps are you taking to deepen your faith in God and defend it when necessary as St. Athanasius did?
- If Jesus Christ, His apostles and the saints were to return today where will they find or meet you?
MAY DEVOTION – DAY 2 – MARIAN VIRTUES AND THEIR NECESSITIES
St. Louis-Marie the Montfort says of the Blessed Virgin Mary: “Thy virtues, O Virgin, surpass the stars of heaven in number” May devotion is a unique period set aside by the Church to enable us to dethrone our vices and bad habits and enthrone the virtues of the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These virtues of Our Mother are numerous but we can at least begin with the ten principal Virtues as recommended to us by St. Louis-Marie de Montfort in his masterpiece The True Devotion to Mary. They are: Her profound humility 2. Her lively faith 3. Her blind obedience 4. Her continual Prayer 5. Her universal mortification 6. Her divine purity 7. Her ardent charity 8. Her heroic patience 9. Her angelic sweetness 10. Her divine wisdom. As we pray the Holy Mass and our Rosary let us be mindful of these virtues. They are absolutely good for us. We therefore ask Our Blessed Mother to attract from heaven upon us the zeal and strength to daily dethrone our vices and enthrone her virtues, through Christ our Lord. Amen. Our Lady, Mother of God and the Church – pray for us.
FIRST SATURDAY DEVOTION IN CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC ERA
1. Pray the rosary and spend at least fifteen minutes in meditation keeping Our Lady company.
2. Since Jesus told Lucia that the confession could be within eight days or even longer still, for confession, do not confess to a priest on telephone (canonically, a third party is not allowed in confession. It is strictly between you and God, with the priest standing in for God). Simply acknowledge your sins, express a deep contrition by an act of contrition and pray at least psalm 51 and other favorite prayers. After the lock down/pandemic lift see a priest for confession
3. For Holy Communion, receive Spiritual Communion.
There are four elements of a Spiritual Communion:
1. Make an act of faith. The key here is to express to the Lord our
faith in His merciful love and His Real Presence in the Eucharist.
2. Make an act of love. O Lord God, I love you above all things …
3. Express our desire to receive Him.
4. Invite Jesus to come into our hearts spiritually.
Here are two examples for your consideration:
St. Alphonsus aria de’ Liguori:
My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things, and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though Thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee. Amen.
My Jesus, I believe that you are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you again. Amen
Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar: Have Mercy on the dying
Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar: Have Mercy on the dead
Jesus on the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar: Grant us a holy and happy death
Immaculate Heart of Mary: Pray for us.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! Saints Francisco and Jacinta, pray for us!