St. Athanasius (297-373) is the saint for us traditional Catholics today. The reason I say this, is that he was banned from his diocese by the Church and emperors for at least five times. He was the Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt for 46 years, but he also spent seventeen of these years in exile for defending Catholic truth. He was constantly persecuted at the hands of the emperors and Church’s hierarchy for just defending the Divinity of Jesus against the Arian heretics. Under the pressure of these heretics, even Pope Liberius excommunicated him.
It all began when he assisted the Patriarch Alexander, at the famous Council of Nicaea (325). The Roman Emperor, Constantine, had called this council to settle conflicts in the Roman Empire concerning conflicts over Catholic dogma. Here, Arius’ heretical teaching, (that Jesus was not consubstantial or co-equal with the Father), was condemned. The confession of faith that came out of this council is known as the Nicene Creed, (defined at the council of Nicaea). And this is why the word ‘consubstantial’ was recently re-inserted into the Nicene creed that we recite at every Sunday Mass.
The Arian heresy ‘denies that the Son is of one essence, nature, or substance with God; He is not consubstantial with the Father, and therefore not like Him, or equal in dignity, or co-eternal, or within the real sphere of Deity.‘ 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia
From this council on, Athanasius spent the rest of his life defending the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Trinity. Because he (mostly alone) continuously stood up against the arianist who had infected almost all of the Catholic Church, the famous saying was penned; “Athanasius contra mundum“, that is, “Athanasius against the world“. In the 400’s, Saint Jerome described this period as, “The whole world groaned and was amazed to find itself Arian“.
Today, we traditional Catholics, groan against the whole world and Church, because we find it almost filled with modernist and progressive heretics.
Let us not be discouraged. Over and over again, God got St. Athanasius through his sufferings, false accusations and exiles. It dearly cost St. Athanasius. It will dearly cost us too. But when all is said and done, it is in heaven where St. Athanasius is being rewarded by God forever.
We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and to know and defend our Church’s dogma and history. In the end, good always wins, even if it is not until heaven.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.