arian heresy

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The Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed, also known as Pseudo-Athanasian Creed or Quicunque Vult (also Quicumque Vult), is a Christian statement of belief focused on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology.    The Latin name of the creed, Quicunque vult, is taken from the opening words, “Whosoever wishes”.    The creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century.    It is the first creed in which the equality of the three persons of the Trinity is explicitly stated.    It differs from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan and Apostles’ Creeds in the inclusion of anathemas, or condemnations of those who disagree with the creed (like the original Nicene Creed).

Widely accepted among Western Christians, including the Roman Catholic Church and some Anglican churches, Lutheran churches (it is considered part of Lutheran confessions in the Book of Concord) and ancient, liturgical churches generally, the Athanasian Creed has been used in public worship less and less frequently.

It was designed to distinguish Nicene Christianity from the heresy of Arianism. Liturgically, this Creed was recited at the Sunday Office of Prime in the Western Church; it is not in common use in the Eastern Church.    The creed has never gained acceptance in liturgy among Eastern Christians since it was considered as one of many unorthodox fabrications that contained the Filioque clause.    Today, the Athanasian Creed is rarely used even in the Western Church.    When used, one common practice is to use it once a year on Trinity Sunday.

St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (May 2)

Known as the Father of Orthodoxy, St. Athanasius spent his life fighting against the Arian heresy. He was exiled from his diocese of Alexandria five times for support of Catholic doctrine at a time when many churchmen had fallen into heresy. One observer summed up the situation as: “Athanasius contra mundum,” or “Athanasius against the world.”

“St. Athanasius fled Alexandria and was pursued up the Nile. When the imperial officers were gaining on him, he ordered his boat turned around. At the time it was still hidden from the pursuers by a bend in the river. When the two boats crossed paths, the Roman officers, not personally knowing Athanasius, shouted out, asking if anyone had seen Athanasius. St. Athanasius himself answered them: "He is not very far off.” The other boat hastily continued up the river.“ - The 33 Doctors of the Church, p. 6, by Fr. Christopher Rengers, O.F.M. Cap.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria

St. Athanasius (296-373) was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to noble Christian parents. He was well educated in theology, philosophy, rhetoric, and law. He made great progress in learning and virtue, and spent time in retreat with St. Anthony in the desert. St. Athanasius devoted most of his life to defeating the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ, as a participant in the Council of Nicea and as Bishop of Alexandria for 46 years. When the majority of his fellow bishops adopted the Arian heresy, threatening the whole Church, Athansius stood firmly and almost single-handedly against them using his philosophical knowledge, theological wisdom, rhetorical skill, and strength of spirit. For this he is known as one of the greatest champions of Catholic belief, earning the title, “Father of Orthodoxy.” Despite having the support of several popes, he suffered great trials, scandals, and persecutions at the hands of his doctrinal enemies, and spent much of his life in exile. Athanasius was later declared a Doctor of the Church. His feast day is celebrated on May 2nd.

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May 2 – Happy Feast Day of St Athanasius of Alexandria- Doctor of the Church

Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigour of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church. Five times Athanasius was exiled for his defense of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity. 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 dogmatic and historical writings are almost all polemic, directed against every aspect of Arianism.
Among his ascetical writings, his Life of St. Anthony (January 17) achieved astonishing popularity and contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life throughout the Western Christian world.