Athanasius of Alexandria

Patriarch of Alexandria

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 297 – 373) was the twentieth bishop of Alexandria. He who was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.

They die daily in the life that belongs to earth, but they live in the life of the angels, just as they share in the life of the Lord.

QuotesEdit

  • The people who walk angelically according to their free will and practice discipline in the life of the angels remove themselves completely from the desires of the flesh, beloved brothers; they die daily in the life that belongs to earth, but they live in the life of the angels, just as they share in the life of the Lord.
    • “The advanced life of virtue,” Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism (1995), p. 314
  • For in other matters also which go to make up life, we shall find differences according to circumstances. For example, it is not right to kill, yet in war it is lawful and praiseworthy to destroy the enemy; accordingly not only are they who have distinguished themselves in the field held worthy of great honours, but monuments are put up proclaiming their achievements. So that the same act is at one time and under some circumstances unlawful, while under others, and at the right time, it is lawful and permissible. The same reasoning applies to the relation of the sexes. He is blessed who, being freely yoked in his youth, naturally begets children. But if he uses nature licentiously, the punishment of which the Apostle writes shall await whoremongers and adulterers.
    For there are two ways in life, as touching these matters. The one the more moderate and ordinary, I mean marriage; the other angelic and unsurpassed, namely virginity. Now if a man choose the way of the world, namely marriage, he is not indeed to blame; yet he will not receive such great gifts as the other. For he will receive, since he too brings forth fruit, namely thirtyfold. But if a man embrace the holy and unearthly way, even though, as compared with the former, it be rugged and hard to accomplish, yet it has the more wonderful gifts: for it grows the perfect fruit, namely an hundredfold. So then their unclean and evil objections had their proper solution long since given in the divine Scriptures.

Four Discourses Against the AriansEdit

Translated by John Henry Newman and Archibald Robertson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 4. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.)
  • For never at any time did Christian people take their title from the Bishops among them, but from the Lord, on whom we rest our faith. Thus, though the blessed Apostles have become our teachers, and have ministered the Saviour's Gospel, yet not from them have we our title, but from Christ we are and are named Christians. But for those who derive the faith which they profess from others, good reason is it they should bear their name, whose property they have become.
    • Discourse 1 Against the Arians, Chapter 1. Introduction. Reason for writing; certain persons indifferent about Arianism; Arians not Christians, because sectaries always take the name of their founder.
  • For thus, the former Jews also, denying the Word, and saying, 'We have no king but Cæsar John 19:15,' were immediately stripped of all they had, and forfeited the light of the Lamp, the odour of ointment, knowledge of prophecy, and the Truth itself; till now they understand nothing, but are walking as in darkness.
    • Discourse 1 Against the Arians, Chapter 3. The Importance of the Subject. The Arians affect Scripture language, but their doctrine new, as well as unscriptural. Statement of the Catholic doctrine, that the Son is proper to the Father's substance, and eternal. Restatement of Arianismin contrast, that He is a creature with a beginning: the controversy comes to this issue, whether one whom we are to believe in as God, can be so in name only, and is merely a creature. What pretence then for being indifferent in the controversy? The Arians rely on state patronage, and dare not avow their tenets
  • Wherefore, in their craft, as children of this world, after feeding their so-called lamp from the wild olive, and fearing lest it should soon be quenched (for it is said, 'the light of the wicked shall be put out Job 18:5,') they hide it under the bushel of their hypocrisy, and make a different profession, and boast of patronage of friends and authority of Constantius, that what with their hypocrisy and their professions, those who come to them may be kept from seeing how foul their heresy is.

Life of Anthony of EgyptEdit

Readings in World Christian History (2013), pp. 131-144
  • If he [Anthony] heard of a good man anywhere, like the prudent bee, he went forth and sought him, nor turned back to his own place until he had seen him; and he returned, having got from the good man as it were supplies for his journey in the way of virtue.
    • § 3
  • He had given such heed to what was read that none of the things that were written fell from him to the ground, but he remembered all, and afterwards his memory served him for books.
    • § 3
  • He subjected himself in sincerity to the good men whom he visited, and learned thoroughly where each surpassed him in zeal and discipline. He observed the graciousness of one; the unceasing prayer of another; he took knowledge of another's freedom from anger and another's loving-kindness; he gave heed to one as he watched, to another as he studied; one he admired for his endurance, another for his fasting and sleeping on the ground; the meekness of one and the long-suffering of another he watched with care, while he took note of the piety towards Christ and the mutual love which animated all. Thus filled, he returned to his own place of discipline, and henceforth would strive to unite the qualities of each, and was eager to show in himself the virtues of all.
    • § 4
  • Antony, however, according to his custom, returned alone to his own cell, increased his discipline, and sighed daily as he thought of the mansions in Heaven, having his desire fixed on them, and pondering over the shortness of man's life. And he used to eat and sleep, and go about all other bodily necessities with shame when he thought of the spiritual faculties of the soul. So often, when about to eat with any other hermits, recollecting the spiritual food, he begged to be excused, and departed far off from them, deeming it a matter for shame if he should be seen eating by others.
    • § 45
  • Antony ... used to say that it behooved a man to give all his time to his soul rather than his body, yet to grant a short space to the body through its necessities; but all the more earnestly to give up the whole remainder to the soul and seek its profit, that it might not be dragged down by the pleasures of the body, but, on the contrary, the body might be in subjection to the soul.
    • § 45
  • Others such as these met him in the outer mountain and thought to mock him because he had not learned letters. And Antony said to them, 'What do you say? Which is first, mind or letters? And which is the cause of which— mind of letters or letters of mind.' And when they answered mind is first and the inventor of letters, Antony said, 'Whoever, therefore, has a sound mind has not need of letters.'
    • § 73

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