Athanasius of Alexandria: One God who is above all things and through all things and in all things Sunday, May 22 2016 

AthanasiusWe acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being.

It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit; and in this way the unity of the Holy Trinity is preserved.

Accordingly in the Church one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things.

God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.

Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.

Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father.

Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word.

This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

This is also Paul’s teaching in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.

Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the communion of the Spirit himself.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Letter 1.28-30 (PG 26:594-595, 599); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Trinity Sunday, Year 1.

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Athanasius of Alexandria: We know that when we die we are not destroyed, but actually begin to live, and become incorruptible through the Resurrection Monday, May 2 2016 

AthanasiusThere is no small proof that death is destroyed, and that the Cross is become the victory over it, and that it has no more power but is verily dead.

Rather there is an evident warrant – that it is despised by all Christ’s disciples, and that they all take an aggressive stance against it and no longer fear it.

Instead, by the sign of the Cross and by faith in Christ, they tread it down as dead.

For of old, before the divine sojourn of the Saviour took place, death was terrible even to the saints, and all wept for the dead as though they perished.

But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible; for all who believe in Christ tread him under as nought, and choose rather to die than to deny their faith in Christ.

For they verily know that when they die they are not destroyed, but actually begin to live, and become incorruptible through the Resurrection.

And they know that the devil, that once maliciously exulted in death, now that its pains were loosed, remained the only one truly dead.

And a proof of this is: that, before men believe in Christ, they see in death an object of terror, and play the coward before him.

But, when they are gone over to Christ’s faith and teaching, their contempt for death is so great that they even eagerly rush upon it, and become witnesses for the Resurrection the Saviour has accomplished against it.

For while still tender in years they make haste to die, and not only men, but women also, exercise themselves by bodily discipline against it. So weak has death become, that even women who were formerly deceived by him, now mock at him as dead and paralyzed.

When a tyrant has been defeated by a real king, and bound hand and foot, then all that pass by laugh him to scorn, buffeting and reviling him, no longer fearing his fury and barbarity, because of the king who has conquered him.

So also, death having been conquered and exposed by the Saviour on the Cross, and bound hand and foot, all they who are in Christ, as they pass by, trample on him, and witnessing to Christ scoff at death, jesting at him, and saying what has been written against him of old:

“O death, where is thy victory? O grave, where is thy sting?”

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 27 [slightly adapted].

Athanasius of Alexandria: “Death is swallowed up in victory” Thursday, Apr 7 2016 

AthanasiusNow that the common Saviour of all has died on our behalf, we, the faithful in Christ, no longer die the death as before, agreeably to the warning of the law, for this condemnation has ceased.

With corruption ceasing and being put away by the grace of the Resurrection, henceforth we are only dissolved, agreeably to our bodies’ mortal nature, at the time God has fixed for each, that we may be able to gain a better resurrection.

Like the seeds which are cast into the earth, we do not perish by dissolution, but sown in the earth, shall rise again, death having been brought to nought by the grace of the Saviour.

Hence it is that blessed Paul, who was made a surety of the Resurrection to all, says (1 Cor. 15:53ff):

“This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality; but when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting? O grave where is your victory?”

[…] The death which befalls men comes to them agreeably to the weakness of their nature; for, unable to continue in one stay, they are dissolved with time. Hence, too, diseases befall them, and they fall sick and die. But the Lord is not weak, but is the Power of God and Word of God and Very Life.

[…] He was…the Life and the Word of God, and it was necessary…for the death on behalf of all to be accomplished. Because He was life and power, the body gained strength in Him, while, as death must needs come to pass, He did not Himself take, but received at others’ hands; the occasion of perfecting His sacrifice.

It was not fitting…that the Lord should fall sick, who healed the diseases of others; nor again was it right for that body to lose its strength, in which He gives strength to the weaknesses of others also.

Why, then, did He not prevent death, as He did sickness? Because it was for this that He had the body, and it was unfitting to prevent it, lest the Resurrection also should be hindered, while yet it was equally unfitting for sickness to precede His death, lest it should be thought weakness on the part of Him that was in the body….

He hungered, agreeably to the properties of His body. But He did not perish of hunger, because of the Lord that wore it. Hence, even if He died to ransom all, yet He saw not corruption. For His body rose again in perfect soundness, since the body belonged to none other, but to the very Life.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 21 [slightly adapted].

Athanasius of Alexandria: If we follow Christ closely we shall be allowed, even on this earth, to stand as it were on the threshold of the heavenly Jerusalem Tuesday, Mar 15 2016 

AthanasiusOur Lord Jesus Christ…has come among us as our feast and holy day as well.

The blessed Apostle says of him who was awaited: “Christ has been sacrificed as our Passover.”

It was Christ who shed his light on the psalmist as he prayed: “You are my joy, deliver me from those surrounding me.”

True joy, genuine festival, means the casting out of wickedness.

To achieve this one must live a life of perfect goodness and, in the serenity of the fear of God, practise contemplation in one’s heart.

This was the way of the saints, who in their lifetime and at every stage of life rejoiced as at a feast.

Blessed David, for example, not once but seven times rose at night to win God’s favour through prayer.

The great Moses was full of joy as he sang God’s praises in hymns of victory for the defeat of Pharaoh and the oppressors of the Hebrew people.

Others had hearts filled always with gladness as they performed their sacred duty of worship, like the great Samuel and the blessed Elijah.

Because of their holy lives they gained freedom, and now keep festival in heaven. They rejoice after their pilgrimage in shadows, and now distinguish the reality from the promise.

When we celebrate the feast in our own day, what path are we to take? As we draw near to this feast, who is to be our guide?

Beloved, it must be none other than the one whom you will address with me as our Lord Jesus Christ. He says: “I am the way.” As blessed John tells us: it is Christ “who takes away the sin of the world.”

It is he who purifies our souls, as the prophet Jeremiah says: “Stand upon the ways; look and see which is the good path, and you will find in it the way of amendment for your souls.”

In former times the blood of goats and the ashes of a calf were sprinkled on those who were unclean, but they were able to purify only the body. Now through the grace of God’s Word everyone is made abundantly clean.

If we follow Christ closely we shall be allowed, even on this earth, to stand as it were on the threshold of the heavenly Jerusalem, and enjoy the contemplation of that everlasting feast, like the blessed apostles, who in following the Saviour as their leader, showed, and still show, the way to obtain the same gift from God.

They said: “See, we have left all things and followed you.” We too follow the Lord, and we keep his feast by deeds rather than by words.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Letter 14, 1-2 from the Office of Readings, 5th Sunday of Lent @ Universalis.

Athanasius of Alexandria: The destruction of death and the resurrection of life Sunday, Feb 7 2016 

AthanasiusContinued from here….

And of this one may be assured at the hands of the Saviour’s own inspired writers, if one happen upon their writings, where they say:

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died, and He died for all that we should no longer live unto ourselves, but unto Him Who for our sakes died and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:14), our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, again: “But we behold Him, Who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that by the grace of God He should taste of death for every man” (Heb. 2:9f).

Then He also points out the reason why it was necessary for none other than God the Word Himself to become incarnate; as follows:

“For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and through Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.”

By these words He means that it belonged to none other to bring man back from the corruption which had begun than the Word of God, Who had also made them from the beginning.

It was in order to be a sacrifice for bodies such as His own that the Word Himself also assumed a body, as these words show:

“forasmuch then as the children are the sharers in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death He might bring to naught Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14ff).

For by the sacrifice of His own body, He both put an end to the law which was against us, and made a new beginning of life for us, by the hope of resurrection which He has given us.

For since from man it was that death prevailed over men, for this cause conversely, by the Word of God being made man has come about the destruction of death and the resurrection of life…:

“for since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21).

For no longer now do we die as subject to condemnation; but as men who rise from the dead we await the general resurrection of all, “which.in its own times He shall show” (1 Tim. 6:15), even God, Who has also wrought it, and bestowed it upon us.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 10 [slightly adapted].

Athanasius of Alexandria: The incorruptible Son of God, being conjoined with all by a like nature, naturally clothed all with incorruption Monday, Jan 18 2016 

AthanasiusJanuary 18th, Saints Athanasius and Cyril, Patriarchs of Alexandria.

The Word perceived that not otherwise could the corruption of men be undone save by death as a necessary condition.

Yet it was impossible for the Word to suffer death, being immortal, and Son of the Father.

He takes to Himself a body capable of death, so that, by partaking of the Word Who is above all, it might be worthy to die in the stead of all, and might, because of the Word which was come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the Grace of the Resurrection.

[…] And thus He, the incorruptible Son of God, being conjoined with all by a like nature, naturally clothed all with incorruption, by the promise of the resurrection.

For the actual corruption in death no longer has holding-ground against men, by reason of the Word, which by His one body has come to dwell among them.

When a great king has entered into some large city and taken up his abode in one of the houses there, such a city is…held worthy of high honour, nor does any enemy or bandit any longer descend upon it and subject it.

On the contrary, it is thought entitled to all care, because of the king’s having taken up his residence in a single house there.

So, too, has it been with the Monarch of all.

For now that He has come to our realm, and taken up his abode in one body among His peers, henceforth the whole conspiracy of the enemy against mankind is checked, and the corruption of death which before was prevailing against them is done away.

For the race of men would have gone to ruin, had not the Lord and Saviour of all, the Son of God, come among us to meet the end of death.

[…] Now in truth this great work was peculiarly suited to God’s goodness.

A king who founds a house or city which is beset by bandits from the carelessness of its inmates does not by any means neglect it, but…reclaims it as his own work, having regard not to the carelessness of the inhabitants but to what beseems himself.

Accordingly, much more did God the Word of the all-good Father not neglect the race of men, His work,when it was going to corruption.

Rather, while He blotted out the death which had ensued by the offering of His own body, He corrected their neglect by His own teaching, restoring all that was man’s by His own power.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 9 & 10 [slightly adapted].

Athanasius of Alexandria: The incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm Wednesday, Dec 30 2015 

AthanasiusThe incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us (Acts 17:27) before.

For no part of Creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father.

But He comes in condescension to shew loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us.

And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption;

seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall through;

seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the things whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away;

seeing, further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and how by little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves;

and seeing, lastly, how all men were under penalty of death;

He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery—lest the creature should perish, and His Father’s handiwork in men be spent for nought—He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours.

For He did not simply will to become embodied, or will merely to appear. For if He willed merely to appear, He was able to effect His divine appearance by some other and higher means as well.

But He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure from intercourse of men.

For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling.

And thus taking from our bodies one of like nature, because all were under penalty of the corruption of death He gave it over to death in the stead of all, and offered it to the Father—doing this, moreover, of His loving-kindness, to the end that,

firstly, all being held to have died in Him, the law involving the ruin of men might be undone (inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord’s body, and had no longer holding-ground against men, his peers),

and that, secondly, whereas men had turned toward corruption, He might turn them again toward incorruption, and quicken them from death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of the Resurrection, banishing death from them like straw from the fire.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 8.

Athanasius of Alexandria: “God made man for incorruption, and as an image of His own eternity” Tuesday, Dec 1 2015 

AthanasiusGod has not only made us out of nothing; but He gave us freely, by the Grace of the Word, a life in correspondence with God.

But men, having rejected things eternal, and, by counsel of the devil, turned to the things of corruption, became the cause of their own corruption in death.

They were by nature corruptible, but were destined – by the grace following from partaking of the Word – to have escaped their natural state had they remained good.

For because of the Word dwelling with them, even their natural corruption did not come near them, as Wisdom also says:

“God made man for incorruption, and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death came into the world” (Wisd. 2:23).

But when this was come to pass, men began to die, while corruption thenceforward prevailed against them, gaining even more than its natural power over the whole race, inasmuch as it had, owing to the transgression of the commandment, the threat of the Deity as a further advantage against them.

[…] With having gained upon men, and with corruption abiding upon them, the race of man was perishing. The rational man made in God’s image was disappearing, and the handiwork of God was in process of dissolution.

[…] It  was monstrous, firstly, that God, having spoken, should prove false—that, when once He had ordained that man, if he transgressed the commandment, should die, after the transgression man should not die, but God’s word should be broken. For God would not be true, if, when He had said we should die, man died not.

Again, it was unseemly that creatures once made rational, and having partaken of the Word, should go to ruin, and turn again toward non-existence by the way of corruption.

For it were not worthy of God’s goodness that the things He had made should waste away, because of the deceit practised on men by the devil.

[…] Especially it was unseemly to the last degree that God’s handicraft among men should be done away, either because of their own carelessness, or because of the deceitfulness of evil spirits.

So, as the rational creatures were wasting and such works in course of ruin, what was God in His goodness to do? Suffer corruption to prevail against them and death to hold them fast?

And where were the profit of their having been made, to begin with? For better were they not made, than once made, left to neglect and ruin.

[…] It was, then, out of the question to leave men to the current of corruption; because this would be unseemly, and unworthy of God’s goodness.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 5 & 6 [slightly adapted].

Athanasius of Alexandria: God has made man, and willed that he should abide in incorruption Sunday, Sep 13 2015 

AthanasiusYou are wondering, perhaps, for what possible reason, having proposed to speak of the Incarnation of the Word, we are at present treating of the origin of mankind.

But this, too, properly belongs to the aim of our treatise.

For in speaking of the appearance of the Saviour amongst us, we must needs speak also of the origin of men, that you may know that the reason of His coming down was because of us, and that our transgression called forth the loving-kindness of the Word, that the Lord should both make haste to help us and appear among men.

For of His becoming Incarnate we were the object, and for our salvation He dealt so lovingly as to appear and be born even in a human body.

Thus, then, God has made man, and willed that he should abide in incorruption; but men, having despised and rejected the contemplation of God, and devised and contrived evil for themselves, received the condemnation of death with which they had been threatened.

And from thenceforth they no longer remained as they were made, but were being corrupted according to their devices (Eccles. 7:29; Rom. 1:21-22). And death had the mastery over them as king (Rom. 5:14).

For transgression of the commandment was turning them back to their natural state, so that just as they have had their being out of nothing, so also, as might be expected, they might look for corruption into nothing in the course of time.

For if, out of a former normal state of non-existence, they were called into being by the Presence and loving-kindness of the Word, it followed naturally that when men were bereft of the knowledge of God and were turned back to what was not (for what is evil is not, but what is good is), they should, since they derive their being from God who IS, be everlastingly bereft even of being; in other words, that they should be disintegrated and abide in death and corruption.

For man is by nature mortal, inasmuch as he is made out of what is not; but by reason of his likeness to Him that is (and if he still preserved this likeness by keeping Him in his knowledge) he would stay his natural corruption, and remain incorrupt; as Wisdom says: “The taking heed to His laws is the assurance of immortality” (Wis. 6:18).

But being incorrupt, he would live henceforth as God, to which I suppose the divine Scripture refers, when it says: “I have said ye are gods, and ye are all sons of the most Highest; but ye die like men, and fall as one of the princes” (Psalm 81:6).

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 4.

Athanasius of Alexandria: The renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning Tuesday, Jul 21 2015 

AthanasiusIn what precedes we have drawn out…a sufficient account of the error of the heathen concerning idols,

—and of the worship of idols, and how they originally came to be invented;

—how, namely, out of wickedness men devised for themselves the worshipping of idols.

And we have by God’s grace noted also of the divinity of the Word of the Father,

—and of His universal Providence and power,

—and that the Good Father through Him orders all things,

—and all things are moved by Him, and in Him are quickened.

Come now, true lover of Christ, let us follow up the faith of our religion (τῆς εὐσεβείας – cf. 1 Tim. 3:16), and set forth also what relates to the Word’s becoming Man, and to His divine appearing amongst us…in order that, all the more for the seeming low estate of the Word, your piety toward Him may be increased and multiplied.

For the more He is mocked among the unbelieving, the more witness does He give of His own Godhead. He not only Himself demonstrates as possible what men mistake, thinking impossible, but what men deride as unseemly, this by His own goodness He clothes with seemliness.

And what men, in their conceit of wisdom, laugh at as merely human, He by His own power demonstrates to be divine, subduing the pretensions of idols by His supposed humiliation—by the Cross—and invisibly winning over to recognise His divinity and power those who mock and disbelieve.

But to treat this subject it is necessary to recall what has been previously said, in order that you may neither fail to know the cause of the bodily appearing of the Word of the Father, so high and so great, nor think it a consequence of His own nature that the Saviour has worn a body.

Rather, being incorporeal by nature, and being Word from the beginning, He has yet of the loving-kindness and goodness of His own Father been manifested to us in a human body for our salvation.

It is, then, proper for us to begin the treatment of this subject by speaking of the creation of the universe, and of God its Artificer, that so it may be duly perceived that the renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning.

For it will appear not inconsonant for the Father to have wrought its salvation in Him by Whose means He made it.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 1 (slightly adapted).

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