Saturday, May 02, 2009

St. Athanasius

May 2

The life of St. Athanasius, my favorite church father, is celebrated today. An Egyptian, he eventually rose to the position of bishop of Alexandria. His major contribution to the faith – and the main reason he has been declared a doctor of the church – was his fight for theological orthodoxy, especially his defense of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ.

Many take this doctrine for granted now, but in the early 300s, many church leaders were Arians, deniers of this doctrine. Athanasius’ steadfast defense of this key tenant of the faith led him to be exiled by Arian bishops and emperors five separate times.

During one period of his life, he enjoyed 10 years of relative peace—reading, writing and promoting the Christian life along the lines of the monastic ideal to which he was greatly devoted. His biography of St. Anthony of the desert laid the groundwork for the monastic movement of the next three centuries.

This combined understanding of deep theology and Christian living makes him a wonderful role model.

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