Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church
ATHANASIUS was born in Egypt towards the end of the third century, and was from his youth pious, learned, and deeply versed in the sacred writings, as befitted one whom God had chosen to be the champion and defender of His Church against the Arian heresy. Though only a deacon he was chosen by his bishop to go with him to the Council of Nicæa, in 325, and attracted the attention of all by the learning and ability with which he defended the faith. A few months later, he became Patriarch of Alexandria, and for forty-six years he bore, often well-nigh alone, the whole brunt of the Arian assault. On the refusal of the Saint to restore Arius to Catholic communion, the emperor ordered the Patriarch of Constantinople to do so. The wretched heresiarch took an oath that he had always believed as the Church believes; and the patriarch, after vainly using every effort to move the emperor, had recourse to fasting and prayer, that God Would avert from the Church the frightful sacrilege. The day came for the solemn entrance of Arius into the great church of Sancta Sophia. The heresiarch and his party set out glad and in triumph. But before he reached the church, death smote him swiftly and awfully, and the dreaded sacrilege was averted. St. Athanasius stood unmoved against four Roman emperors; was banished five times; was the butt of every insult, calumny, and wrong the Arians could devise, and lived in constant peril of death. Though firm as adamant in defence of the Faith, he was meek and humble, pleasant and winning in converse, beloved by his flock, unwearied in labors, in prayer, in mortifications, and in zeal for souls. In the year 373 his stormy life closed in peace, rather that his people would have it so than that his enemies were weary of persecuting him. He left to the Church the whole and ancient Faith, defended and explained in writings rich in thought and learning, clear, keen, and stately in expression. He is honored as one of the greatest of the Doctors of the Church.
Reflection. —The Catholic Faith, says St. Augustine, is more precious far than all the riches and treasures of earth; more glorious and greater than all its honors, all its possessions. This it is which saves sinners, gives light to the blind, restores penitents, perfects the just, and is the crown of martyrs.
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS
Introit • Ecclus. 15, 5
In the midst of the church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory. (P.T. Alleluia, alleluia.) Ps. 91, 2. It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy name, O Most High. Glory be …
Graciously hear our prayers, we beseech Thee, O Lord, which we bring before Thee on the solemnity of blessed Athanasius, Thy confessor and pontiff, and, by the merits and intercession of him who had the grace to serve Thee worthily, absolve us of all our sins. Through the same.
Epistle • 2 Cor. 4, 5-14
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Peter the Apostle to the Corinthians.
[The sincerity of his preaching. His comfort in his afflictions.]
Brethren, we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Jesus. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us. In all things we suffer tribulation, but are not distressed; we are straitened, but are not destitute; We suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not: Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.
For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake; that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, as it is written: I believed, for which cause I have spoken; we also believe, for which cause we speak also: Knowing that he who raised up Jesus, will raise us up also with Jesus, and place us with you.
Alleluia, alleluiaPs. 190, 4. Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech. Alleluia. James 1, 12. Blessed is the ma that endureth temptation; for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life. Alleluia.
Gospel • Matt. 10, 23-28
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew.
[Christ sends out his twelve apostles, with the power of miracles. The lessons he gives them.]
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, when they shall persecute you in this city, flee into another. Amen I say to you, you shall not finish all the cities of Israel, till the Son of man come. The disciple is not above the master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the goodman of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household?
Therefore fear them not. For nothing is covered that shall not be revealed: nor hid, that shall not be known. That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light: and that which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the housetops. And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Offertory • Ps. 88, 24, 22
I have found David my servant: with my holy oil I have anointed him; for my arm shall help him, and my hand shall strengthen him, alleluia.
May the annual solemnity of St. Athanasius, Thy confessor, commend us to Thy loving-kindness, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that, by this office of pious atonement, a blessed reward may follow him, and he may obtain for us the gifts of Thy grace. Through our Lord.
Communion • Matt. 10, 27
That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light, saith the Lord; and that which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the housetops, alleluia.
O God, the rewarder of faithful souls, grant that, by the prayers of blessed Athanasius, Thy confessor and bishop, whose august festival we celebrate, we may obtain pardon. Through our Lord.