Monday, May 2

Lessons from the Saints - Athanasius

Today is the feast day of St. Athanasius of Alexandria, one of the earliest and most venerated of the church doctors.  There is much which can be said of his life and his impact upon the Church during his 45 years as pope of Alexandria.  Rather, I would like to reflect on the good doctors words.

The time is now at hand when we enter on a new beginning: the proclamation of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed. We feed as on the food of life, we constantly refresh our souls with his precious blood, as from a fountain. Yet we are always thirsting, burning to be satisfied. But he himself is present for those who thirst and in his goodness invites them to the feast day. Our Savior repeats his words: If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He quenched the thirst not only of those who came to him then. Whenever anyone seeks him he is freely admitted to the presence of the Savior. The grace of the feast is not restricted to one occasion. Its rays of glory never set. It is always at hand to enlighten the mind of those who desire it...God now gives us the joy of salvation that shines out from this feast, as he brings us together to form one assembly, uniting us all in spirit in every place, allowing us to pray together and to offer common thanksgiving, as is our duty on the feast. Such is the wonder of his love: he gathers to this feast those who are far apart, and brings together in unity of faith those who may be physically separated from each other.  (From an Easter letter)

Athanasius makes it clear that anyone who seeks God, who thirsts to drink from that Saving cup and hungers for the Bread of Life should be allowed to come forward and it is through this feast of Thanksgiving (in the greek, εὐχαριστίας Eucharist) that we all are in communion with each other and with God.

In these days where we can become so focused on division and discord within our churches, communities and countries, may St. Athanasius and his words of unity and reminder that we are all welcome in the Body of Christ echo in our ears and resonate in our hearts.

Thanks be to God.

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