Walking with the Saints

Athanasius of Alexandria

Almost every Sunday we all stand in unison and recite the Nicaean Creed.  I love the words of that creed.

I marvel at how expertly it is crafted as a full explanation of what we believe about the Trinity and our faith.

Today we celebrate the feast day of one of the proponents of this creed and he is attributed with writing a key portion of it.

The saint whose feast day we celebrate on May 2nd is Athanasius born in 295 AD.  He was ordained a deacon in 319 He became the advisor to Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria. Athanasius assisted Bishop Alexander at the first Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325.  Athanasius opposed the Presbyter Arius who denied the full divinity of the second person of the Trinity. Athanasius was successful in winning approval for using the phrase “of one being with the Father” which unequivocally expressed the full godhead of the son.

He was a staunch defender of the Nicene Christology against emperors, magistrates, bishops and theologians.   He was sent into exile five times. He often seemed to stand alone for the orthodox faith.  “Athanasius contra mundum” (Athanasius against the world) became a by word. 

Athanasius was a voluminous writer about biblical interpretation, theological exposition, sermons, and letters. His treatise, On the Incarnation of the Word of God, is still a widely read classic.

Each time I join the congregation in reciting the Nicaean creed I will think of what I learned about this man who helped formulate the creed..