Gems From Saint
Saint Athanasius (295-373), one of the Fathers of the Church
and Archbishop of Alexandria, was a most prolific writer, and defender of the
Catholic Church. He is quoted by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. In his many
writings, he mentioned the Catholic Church by name many times.
Here are some
of his "Gems".
"Thus it is that sinners, and all those who are aliens from the Catholic Church,
heretics, and schismatics, since they are excluded from glorifying (God) with
the saints, cannot properly even continue observers of the feast."
Letters VII, 335 A.D.
"Who then is so negligent, or who so disobedient to the divine voice, as not to
leave everything, and run to the general and common assembly of the feast? which
is not in one place only, for not one place alone keeps the feast; but 'into all
the earth their song has gone forth, and to the ends of the world their words.'
And the sacrifice is not offered in one place, but 'in every nation, incense and
a pure sacrifice is offered unto God'. So when in like manner from all in every
place, praise and prayer shall ascend to the gracious and good Father, when the
whole Catholic Church which is in every place, with gladness and rejoicing,
celebrates together the same worship to God, when all men in common send up a
song of praise and say, Amen."
Festal Letters XI,11, 339 A.D.
"For the faith which the Council confessed in writings is the faith of the
Letter on the Council of Nicaea, 27, 350 A.D., J757
"Well then, what is there in common between the heresy of Arius and the opinion
of Dionysius: or why is Dionysius to be called like Arius, when they differ
widely? For the one is a teacher of the Catholic Church, while the other has
been the inventor of a new heresy."
Letter on the Opinion of Dionysius, 6,
"The Arians then ought, if their intelligence were sound, thus to have thought
and held concerning the Bishop: 'for all things are manifest to them that
understand, and right to them that find knowledge' (Prov. viii. 9). But since,
not having understood the faith of the Catholic Church, they have fallen into
impiety, and consequently, maimed in their intelligence, think that even
straight things are crooked and call light darkness, while they think that
darkness is light, it is necessary to quote also from the other letters of
Dionysius, and state why they were written, to the greater condemnation of the
heretic, For it was from them that we ourselves have learned to think and write
as we are doing about the man."
Letter on the Opinion of Dionysius, 12, 350
"But let the impiety of Sabellius and of Paul of Samosata also be anathematised
by all, and the madness of Valentinian and Basilides, and the folly of the
Manichaens. For if this be done, all evil suspicion will be removed on all
hands, and the faith of the Catholic Church alone be exhibited in
Tomas ad Antiochenos, 3
"How then can they be Christians, who for Christians are Ario-maniac? Or how are
they of the Catholic Church, who have shaken off the Apostolical faith, and
become authors of fresh evils?"
Discourse Against the Arians, I-4, 356 A.D.
"Let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church
from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was
preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs
from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian."
Athanasius, Letter to Serapion of Thmuis, 359 A.D..
"A desire to learn and a yearning for heavenly things is suitable to a religious
Emperor; for thus you will truly have 'your heart' also 'in the hand of God'.
Since then your Piety desired to learn from us the faith of the Catholic Church,
giving thanks for these things to the Lord, we counselled above all things to
remind your Piety of the faith confessed by the Fathers at Nicaea. For this
certain set at nought, while plotting against us in many ways, because we would
not comply with the Arian heresy, and they have become authors of heresy and
schisms in the Catholic Church."
Letter of Athanasius to Jovian
"For a certain Arius and those with him attempted to corrupt it, and to
introduce impiety in its place, affirming that the Son of God was from nought,
and a creature, and a thing made and changeable. But with these words they
deceived many, so that even 'they that seemed to be somewhat were carried away',
with their blasphemy. And yet our holy Fathers, as we said before, came promptly
together at the Synod at Nicaea, and anathematised them, and confessed in
writing the faith of the Catholic Church, so that, this being everywhere
preached, the heresy kindled by the heretics might be quenched. This faith then
was everywhere in every Church sincerely known and preached."
Athanasius to Jovian
"But those who say, that the Son was from nothing, or from other subsistence and
not from God; and that there was a time or age when He was not, the Catholic and
Holy Church regards as aliens. Likewise those who say, that there are three Gods
(Mormonism); or that Christ is not God (Jehovah's Witnesses); or that before the ages He was
neither Christ nor Son of God; or that Father and Son, or Holy Ghost, are the
same; or that the Son is Ingenerate; or that the Father begat the Son, not by
choice or will; the Holy and Catholic Church anathematizes."
De Synodis, 463,
My insertions are in parentheses, to show there is nothing new under
the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:10
Old heresies recycle themselves.
"Although you have already subscribed to the letter I addressed to Arius and his
fellows, exhorting them to renounce his impiety, and to submit themselves to the
sound Catholic Faith, and have shewn your right-mindedness and agreement in the
doctrines of the Catholic Church: ..."
Deposition of Arius by St Athanasius,
"As there is one body of the Catholic Church, and a command is given us in the
sacred Scriptures to preserve the bond of unity and peace, it is agreeable
thereto. that we should write and signify to one another whatever is done by
each of us individually; so that whether one member suffer or rejoice, we may
either suffer or rejoice with one another."
Deposition of Arius by St
Athanasius, 1, 360 A.D.
"Since then our Lord and Saviour Jesus, Christ has instructed us by His own
mouth, and also hath signified to us by the Apostle concerning such men, we
accordingly being personal witnesses of their impiety, have anathematized, as we
said, all such, and declared them to be alien from the Catholic Faith and
Church. And we have made this known to your piety, dearly beloved and most
honoured fellow-ministers, in order that should any of them have the boldness to
come unto you, you may not receive them, nor comply with the desire of Eusebius,
or any other person writing in their behalf. For it becomes us who are
Christians to turn away from all who speak or think any thing against Christ, as
being enemies of God, and destroyers of souls; and not even to "bid such God
speed," lest we become partakers of their sins, as the blessed John hath charged
us. Salute the brethren that are with you. They that are with me salute
Deposition of Arius by St Athanasius, 6, 360 A.D.
"Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These
are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards,
the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James,
one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there
are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans;
then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the
Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to
the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to
Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of
Festal Letters XXXIX, 5, 367 A.D.
"ATHANASIUS to the presbyters and deacons and the people of the Catholic Church
in the Mareotis, brethren beloved and longed for, greeting in the
Festal Letters XLVI
"Being well in body by God's favour, we have now sent our most beloved deacon
Eutyches, that your most pious holiness, as is much desired by us, may be
pleased to inform us of the safety of yourself and those with you. For we
believe it is by the life of you Confessors and servants of God that the state
of the Catholic Church is renewed; and that what heretics have assayed to rend
in pieces, our Lord Jesus Christ by your means restores whole."
"For who, except the Arians, does not clearly see from your teaching the true
faith and the taint of the Arians. Forcibly and admirably, like light from
darkness, you have separated the truth from the subtility and dishonesty of
heretics, defended the Catholic Church, proved that the arguments of the Arians
are nothing but a kind of hallucination, and taught that the diabolical
gnashings of the teeth are to be despised."
Second Letter to Lucifer
"Since then you are such a man, we ask the Lord in prayer that you may pray for
us, that in His mercy He may now deign to look down upon the Catholic Church,
and deliver all His servants from the hands of persecutors; in order that all
they too who have fallen on account of temporal fear may at length be enabled to
raise themselves and return to the way of righteousness, led away from which
they are wandering, poor people, not knowing in what a pit they are."
Letter to Lucifer
"But those who say that He is a creature, or made, or of nothing, or that there
was once a time when He was not, the Catholic Church anathematises."
Bishops of Africa, 9, 368 A.D.
"Now it would be proper to write this at greater length. But since we write to
you who know, we have dictated it concisely, praying that among all the bond of
peace might be preserved, and that all in the Catholic Church should say and
hold the same thing. And we are not meaning to teach, but to put you in mind.
Nor is it only ourselves that write, but all the bishops of Egypt and the
Libyas, some ninety in number. For we all are of one mind in this, and we always
sign for one another if any chance not to be present. Such being our state of
mind, since we happened to be assembled, we wrote, both to our beloved Damasus,
bishop of the Great Rome, giving an account of Auxentius..."
To the Bishops
of Africa, 10, 368 A.D.
"For this Synod of Nicaea is in truth a proscription of every heresy. It also
upsets those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and call Him a Creature. For the
Fathers, after speaking of the faith in the Son, straightway added, 'And we
believe in the Holy Ghost', in order that by confessing perfectly and fully the
faith in the Holy Trinity they might make known the exact form of the Faith of
Christ, and the teaching of the Catholic Church. For it is made clear both among
you and among all, and no Christian can have a doubtful mind on the point, that
our faith is not in the Creature, but in one God, Father Almighty, maker of all
things visible and invisible: and in one Lord Jesus Christ His Only-begotten
Son, and in one Holy Ghost; one God. known in the holy and perfect Trinity,
baptized into which, and in it united to the Deity, we believe that we have also
inherited the kingdom of the heavens, in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom to
the Father be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
Bishops of Africa, 11, 368 A.D.
Several non-Catholics have quoted to me from writings of
Saint Athanasius. From the samples which I have shown here, if I were a
non-Catholic, and was determined to remain one, I would not ever quote from him
Compiled August 25, 2001
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