A hero amid heresy: Weekly Message for 05-02-2023

Dear Friends in Christ,

May 2 is the feast day of Saint Athanasius, a doctrinal hero of antiquity.

This Egyptian-born bishop was renowned for his steadfast fight against Arianism, one of the most insidious and widespread heresies in Church history.

Arianism involved a denial of Jesus’ divinity. Its name came from Arius (256–336), a priest of Alexandria in Egypt, who denied that there were three distinct divine Persons in the Holy Trinity. He held that there was only one Person in the Godhead, the Father, and that the Son was a created being.

This basic error has lingered in one form or another into modernity. Unitarianism, Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witness all deny the divinity of Christ.

In the fourth-century world, Saint Athanasius faced tough opposition, given the many bishops who mistakenly embraced Arianism. Persecution led to his being exiled numerous times. Yet, history and the magisterium were on his side, and today we hail him as a doctor of the Church.

His example is worth remembering as the Church grapples again with a chorus of high-level voices that sow confusion about basic teachings, this time on matters like God’s plan for marriage and sexuality.

How the current drama plays out remains to be seen.

For now, we want to be sure to keep our eye on the ball. A solid overview of Church teaching is only a click away. And, of course, there is the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised will guide us “to all truth” (John 16:13).

In a word, we have reason for calm amid the storms around us. To focus on that theme, our  “Troubled Hearts: A Retreat Guide on Peace of Soul” might be helpful.

And let’s pray for the intercession of Athanasius, who would well understand the turbulent times that test our fidelity.

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor

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