FEAST DAY OF OUR
PATRON SAINT ATHANASIOS
Friday, January 17th – 7:00 p.m.
Great Vespers and Artoklasia
Saturday, January 18th – 8:30 a.m.
Orthros, Divine Liturgy and Artoklasia
Reception to follow after the Services, hosted by our Philoptochos.
ΙΕΡΑ ΠΑΝΗΓΥΡΙΣ ΤΟΥ
Παρασκευή, 17 Ιανουρίου στις 7:00 μ.μ.
Μέγας Εσπερινός με Αρτοκλασία
Εορταστική δεξίωσις κατόπιν των
Ιερών Ακολουθιών από την Φιλόπτωχο
Όρθρος και Θεία Λειτουργία
Σάββατο, 18 Ιανουαρίου στις 8:30 π.μ.
Όρθρος και Θεία Λειτουργία με Αρτοκλασία
Εορταστική δεξίωσις κατόπιν των Ιερών Ακολουθιών
SAINT ATHANASIOS THE GREAT,
PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA
Born in Alexandria, Egypt in A.D. 297, Athanasios was associated with the Alexandrian chancery at an early age, having been ordained deacon in the year 319 and subsequently priest. His brilliance was shown in his “Sermon Against the Arians”, written to answer the widely spreading heresy of Arianism, which had been condemned in 318 by a synod. According to Arius, an elderly priest of Alexandria, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were three separate essences or substances, which is contrary to Orthodox teaching. The spread of Arianism prompted Emperor Constantine to convene the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea (A.D. 325), where Athanasios brilliantly opposed the false doctrine of Arius. He wrote a series of works in defense of the faith proclaimed in Nicaea, that is, the doctrine of the true deity of God the Son. Nevertheless, the controversy lasted for another two centuries. The conciliatory tone of the Council of Nicaea was not enough to put an end to the heresy; Arius would not comply with its decisions and thus fled to Palestine.
While still in his twenties, St Athanasios wrote two short treatises of which the second one is the famous “On the Incarnation”. In this treatise he expounds how God, the Logos, by His union with Manhood restored to the fallen man the image of God in which he had originally been created (Genesis 1:27); and how by His death and Resurrection He met and overcame death which is the consequence of sin. St. Athanasios proved to be the greatest and most consistent theological opponent of Arianism.
He convened the Synod of Alexandria in 362 which did much to clear up misunderstandings of the terms “Person” (hypostasis) and substance (ousia). He also did much to uphold the deity of the Holy Spirit and the full Manhood of Christ against contemporary heretical tendencies.
At the age of thirty, Athanasios was made Bishop of Alexandria. Although Arius assured the Emperor that he accepted the creed of Nicaea, the suspicious Athanasios defied the Imperial order for Arius’ reinstatement. For this he was banished, taking refuge in Treves, France, the place of his first exile, from which he returned in 337 after Constantine’s death. The same year though, his enemies conspired to have him again banished by a synod in Antioch. Athanasios, eluded those who would have him imprisoned, traveled to Rome to plead his case before the Pope, Julius I. Although a council at Sardica favored Athanasios, he did not return from exile until 345, after the death of usurper Bishop Gregory.
Once again, his enemies sprang into action and at a council in Milan in 355, Athanasios was deposed. Thus, after ten years of fruitful rule, he took refuge with the monks of the Egyptian desert whom he greatly admired and whom he had befriended. While with the monks he wrote the History of the Arian Heresy, which displays his vehemence and ironic humor.
In 361 Athanasios was again restored as Bishop of Alexandria and immediately resumed his struggle against Arianism. After a series of lengthy and complicated discussions, councils, synods, and other forms of debate, a credal formula was adopted which satisfied those whose middle view led them to be called Semi-Arians. Peace had hardly arrived when another storm came in the form of the regeneration of paganism under the Emperor Julian the Apostate.
In the autumn of 363, Athanasios was again put to flight, only to return a short time later after the death of the Emperor. He enjoyed a comparative calm until he was removed by Emperor Valens during another resurgence of paganism. Four months later, the aging Bishop was recalled and allowed to live out his life in comparative peace.
Greatly admired by the Orthodox, St. Athanasios stirred the emotions of the Christians as perhaps no other Father of the Church. His theological doctrine is clear and uncomplicated in the strictest Orthodox tradition, and his encouragement of monasticism was a labor of love. He greatly aided the ascetic movement in Egypt. Also, St. Athanasios was the first to introduce knowledge of monasticism to the West. He died on May 2, 373.