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Third Sunday after Trinity

O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid be defended; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect Source: Sacramentary of Gregory [ca 600AD]. In a 1662 revision the last phrase was added and comforted in all dangers and adversities

psalm xvi, xvii | xviii , 1 St. Peter v. 5   &  St. Luke xv. 1.

Homily of Augustine on Psalm XVII

Up, LORD, disappoint him, and cast him down; deliver my soul from the ungodly, by thine own sword; Yea, by thy hand, O LORD; from the men of the evil world


From Augustine on Psalm 17.

 "As a lion ready for prey, have they taken Me" (ver. 12). They have taken
Me, like that adversary who "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."  
"And as a lion's whelp dwelling in secret places." And as his whelp, the
people to whom it was said, "Ye are of your father the devil:"  meditating
on the snares, whereby they might circumvent and destroy the just One.  
"Arise, O Lord, prevent them, and cast them down" (ver. 13). Arise, O Lord,
Thou whom they suppose to be asleep, and regardless of men's iniquities; be
they blinded before by their own malice, that vengeance may prevent their
deed; and so cast them down. Deliver My soul from the ungodly." Deliver My
soul, by restoring Me after the death, which the ungodly have inflicted on
Me. "Thy weapon: from the enemies of Thine hand" (ver. 14). For My soul is
Thy weapon, which Thy hand, that is, Thy eternal Power, hath taken to subdue
thereby the kingdoms of iniquity, and divide the righteous from the ungodly.
This weapon then "deliver from the enemies of Thine hand," that is, of Thy
Power, that is, from Mine enemies. "Destroy them, O Lord, from off the
earth, scatter them in their life." O Lord, destroy them from off the earth,
which they inhabit, scatter them throughout the world in this life, which
only they think their life, who  despair of life eternal. " *

I composed this comment from the Jamestown area  where we  celebrated Holy Communion in remembrance of the first English Holy Communion in what was to become the English colonies in 1607. In preparation for today's service I read a good portion of the book Savage  Kingdom. The Company's parson, the Reverend Master Hunt, would have felt very close to today's collect, epistle and  Psalm 17. You see, he and his friend Captain John Smith, who had been slandered and imprisoned for some time on false charges, were under duress from conspirators within the company, including traitors to the Crown.  Master Hunt would have also probably emphasized the epistle today as he worked to bring the fractions to work together within the Company for their very survival against enemies internal and external. In his autobiography, Captain Smith lauded Master Hunt for his efforts and success in working for peace in the Company.

I sometimes hear clerks speak of the "Ministry of Reconciliation" in terms so that one might think that Paul meant his ministry to be one of reconciling one antagonistic party with another through some sort of compromise or understanding of  beliefs through listening.
Listening is helpful where misunderstanding is present, for sure. It is worse that useless when it involves ploys to bring the faithful to accepting heretical beliefs and clearly sinful actions as blessed. It is no part of Christ's prayer that we all may be one.  Paul's ministry of reconciliation was chiefly in reconciling fallen man with God through Jesus Christ, and the recognition that all so reconciled were of the same Body. 

Paul understood first things and secondary things. The first things, like the basis of faith in Christ, worship of God alone, and the means of salvation are not to be compromised but should be resisted everywhere and the faith defended, and that man's election is evidenced from a turning from sin.  Secondary things, such as the observance of special days, diet,  governance, civil affairs, and such sundries are acceptable in love and Christian forbearance.

The church has been challenged in these latter days by revolutions in the approach to first things, and the Order of Centurions was formed and exists to provide a haven for those who seek an organization that recognizes and promotes the core and fundamental beliefs of  the church without regard to specific denominations and their secondary things.

As the psalmist wrote, and like the collect of Gregory petitions, we call on God to defend us from the enemies (heretics) and to disappoint and cast down their evil designs (to destroy the faith and example given by our Lord).



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Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things
wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]



The Second Sunday after Trinity

Homily of Augustine on Psalm XIII
Trinity Home

LORD, make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy name: for thou never failest to help and govern them whom thou doest bring up in thy steadfast love. Grant this, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Collect source: Sacrementary of Gelasius, Bishop of Rome [ca 494AD]. 1549 BCP version. A different arrangement appeared in the 1662 BCP


I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

In the collect for this Second Sunday after Trinity we hear the prayer of Galacius of Rome that we may fear and love God's holy name. I want you to notice carefully the wording of this prayer. God is the actor. He "brings up" the elect in steadfast love of God.  We should not attribute our steadfastness in faith to our merit, as though we have been justified in it,  but praise God for his work in us. For  "we love him because he loved us first"
This theme is picked up in the homily of Augustine on Psalm 13 when he write, "that he abide fixed in the Lord, he should not attribute to self",
"But I have hoped in Thy mercy" Because this very thing, that a man be not moved, and that he abide fixed in the Lord, he should not attribute to self: lest when he glories that he hath not been moved, he be moved by this very pride. "My heart shall exult in Thy salvation;" in Christ, in the Wisdom of God. "I will sing  to the Lord who hath given me good things;" spiritual good things, not belonging to man's day. "And I will chant  to the name of the Lord most high" (ver. 6); that is, I give thanks with joy, and in most due order employ my body, which is the song of the spiritual soul. But if any distinction is to be marked here, "I will sing" with the heart, "I will chant" with my works; "to the Lord," that which He alone seeth, but "to the name of the Lord," that which is known among men, which is serviceable not for Him, but for us.
The right love and fear of God is chiefly manifest in our worship of him. We sing or say the liturgy as an act of humble approach to God as Augustine says "in most due order employ with my body". Our Alleluias and Gloria proclaim his greatness and his graciousness to us. In our formal worship we fulfill our rule to love God with heart, soul, and mind. We do our duty. Formal worship is a turning to God in reverent awe and love. Outside of our worship, we honor our love of God by acts of kindness and care for our neighbor; this is true worship as James said in his epistle.
We remember the admonition of John in his first epistle, and that "this commandment have we from him [Jesus], That he who loveth God love his brother also. " [1 Jn 4:21]  

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Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]



First Sunday after Trinity

Augustine on Psalm 1 John
First Sunday after Trinity Home

O GOD, the strength of all those who put their hope in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Gregory's Sacramentum. The traditional numbering of Sundays was after Trinity Sunday. Carnmer translated it as put their "trust" in thee in the first Prayer Book

Genesis v, Psalms 1, 5 | 2, 3, 4 , 1 St. John iv. 7   &   St. Luke xvi. 19



in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.




We begin this long season of the church after Trinity, and we will have about 25 weeks or so before Advent. In this season, the appointed Epistles and Gospels look mainly at the teachings of Christ. We will continue with our examination of the psalms through the eyes of Augustine.

Today we look at Psalm 1. It lays out two paths, one of unrighteousness and death, and one of righteousness and life.  It begins with a benediction for the righteous man.

Augustine in his homily wrote,

"Blessed is the man that hath not gone away in the counsel of the ungodly" (ver. 1). This is to be understood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Man.  "Blessed is the man that hath not gone away in the counsel of the ungodly," as "the man of earth did,"  who consented to his wife deceived by the serpent, to the transgressing the commandment of God. "Nor stood in the way of sinners." For He came indeed in the way of sinners, by being born as sinners are; but He "stood" not therein, for that the enticements of the world held Him not. "And hath not sat in the seat of pestilence." He willed not an earthly kingdom, with pride, which is well taken for "the seat of pestilence;" for that there is hardly any one who is free from the love of rule, and craves not human glory. For a "pestilence" is disease widely spread, and involving all or nearly all. Yet "the seat of pestilence" may be more appropriately understood of hurtful doctrine; "whose word spreadeth as a canker."  The order too of the words must be considered: "went away, stood, sat." For he "went away," when he drew back from God. He "stood," when he took pleasure in sin. He "sat," when, confirmed in his pride, he could not go back, unless set free by Him, who neither "hath gone away in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of pestilence."

Augustine interprets this verse from a Christian perspective. Paul preached the same thing when he said that only Christ was without sin.  So then, how are we to become righteous and expect the benefits of life? There is only one way, not withstanding what many post-modern clerics might preach... that way is the way of the Cross. For Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father except through me.

Adam and Jesus present  the community of faithful with models-types. Adam, the fallen man, through whom came all the separation from God that has led to defeat in a fallen world. Jesus, the God Man who loves the world and through his work in the world offers a path of reconciliation with the Father and victory to all who will submit to him. This is not a righteousness that can be earned, but only that righteousness of Christ which is by grace acquired, put on as it were, through faith. According to that measure of faith that has been given through the Holy Ghost, God will lead his elect in the imitation of Christ, day-by-day, and finally perfect them in the end times.

This is the right and universal faith handed down from the Apostles.


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Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]



Trinity Sunday and Psalm 150

Augustine on Psalm CL
Trinity Home

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

Genesis XVIII., Psalms 29, 33 | 93, 97, 150 ,   Revelation iv. 1   &   St. John iii. 1

Admonition and Exhortation for Communion

Homily of Augustine on Psalm XXIX

Angels at Mamre (Holy Trinity) Rublev

O PRAISE God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him in his noble acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him in the sound of the trumpet: praise him upon the lute and harp. Praise him in the timbrels and dances: praise him upon the strings and pipe. Praise him upon the well-tuned cymbals: praise him upon the loud cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.

This week we look a the last great psalm of praise to the Lord. We hear in its words where God shall be praised, why, and with what, and by whom.
Augustine in his homily wrote,
 "Praise the Lord in His saints," that is, in those whom He hath glorified: "praise Him in the firmament of His power" (ver. 1). "Praise Him in His deeds of strength;" or, as others have explained it, "in His deeds of power: praise Him according to the multitude of His greatness" (ver. 2). All these His saints are; as the Apostle saith, "But we may be the righteousness of God in Him."  If then they be the righteousness of God, which He hath wrought in them, why are they not also the strength of Christ which He hath wrought in them, that they should rise again from the dead? For in Christ's resurrection, "strength" is especially set forth to us, for in His Passion was weakness, as the Apostle saith.  And well doth it say, "the firmament of His power." For it is the "firmament of His power" that He "dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him."  Why should not they also be called "the works of" God's "strength," which He hath done in them: yea rather, they themselves are the works of His strength; just as it is said, "We are the righteousness of God in Him." For what more powerful than that He should reign for ever, with all His enemies put under His feet? Why should not they also be "the multitude of His greatness"? not that whereby He is great, but whereby He hath made them great, many as they are, that is, thousands of thousands. Just as righteousness too is understood in two ways, that whereby He is righteous, and that which He worketh in us, so as to make us His righteousness. These same saints are signified by all the musical instruments in succession, to praise God in. For what the Psalmist began with, saying, "Praise the Lord in His saints," that he carrieth out, signifying in various ways these same saints of His.
 It is interesting to note the different translation of the psalm that Augustine had before him. Our Coverdale and King James versions begin with Praise God in his Sanctuary, but Augustine had it as Praise God in his saints, and from there went on to examine this passage in terms of God's strength shown through his saints.  The Hebrew word in question is ko'-desh and Strong defines it as a sacred place or thing; rarely abstractly sanctity: - consecrated (thing), dedicated (thing), hallowed (thing), holiness, (X most) holy (X day, portion, thing), saint, sanctuary.
All of Augustine's words concerning the work of the Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the creation, redemption, and sanctification of his saints are true. Let us give thanks to God that he has called us into his church, with pure hearts offer up true praise, and worship God in his sanctuary with all his saints.

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Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]



Ember Days and Athanasius


Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at the Four Seasons

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast committed to the hands of men the ministry of reconciliation; We humbly beseech thee, by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, to put it into the hearts of many to offer themselves for this ministry; that thereby mankind may be drawn to thy blessed kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Advent, Lent, and Whitsuntide this collect is followed with the seasonal collect

Isaiah lxi. 1, Acts xiii. 44   &   St. Luke iv. 16
Daily Readings for the Four Seasons
Collects, Litany & Hymns
History & Meaning

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me


Ember Days
Athanasius of Alexandria

(9th Edition of The Encyclopaedia Britannica - Vol. II, 1878)

Athanasius of Alexandria

ATHANASIUS, ST, Bishop of Alexandria and one of the most illustrious defenders of the Christian faith, was born at Alexandria about the year 297. Of his family, circumstances, or early education nothing can be said to be known, although a legendary story has been preserved by Rufinus of Aquileia as to the manner in which he came, while yet a boy, under the notice of his predecessor, Alexander. It seems certain that Alexander became his patron, took him as a youth into his house, and employed him as his secretary. This was probably about 313, and from this time Athanasius may be said to have been devoted to the Christian ministry. He was, no doubt, a student in the "Didascaleion," or famous "catechetical school " of Alexandria, which included amongst its already illustrious teachers the names of Clement and Origen. In the museum, the ancient seat of the Alexandrian university, he may have learned grammar, logic, and rhetoric. His mind was certainly well disciplined, and accustomed to discuss from an early period the chief questions both in philosophy and religion. The persecution under which the Alexandrian Church suffered at this time, and his intimacy with the great hermit Antony of which he himself has told us, had all their effect upon his character, and served to nurture in him that undaunted fortitude and high spirit of faith by which he became distinguished.

Before the outbreak of the Arian controversy, which began in 319, Athanasius had made himself known as the author of two essays addressed to a convert from heathenism, one of them entitled Against the Gentiles, and the other On the Incarnation of the Word. Both are of the nature of apologetical treatises, arguing such questions as monotheism, and the necessity of divine interposition for the salvation of the world; and already in the second may be traced that tone of thought respecting the essential divinity of Christ as the "God-man" for which he afterwards became conspicuous. There is no distinct evidence of the connection of Athanasius with the first contentions of Arius and his bishop, which ended in the exile of the former, and his entrance into Palestine under the protection of Eusebius the historian, who was bishop of Caesarea and subsequently of his namesake the bishop of Nicomedia. It can hardly be doubted, however, that Athanasius would be a cordial assistant of his friend and patron Alexander, and that the latter was strengthened in his theological position by the young enthusiastic student who had already expounded the nature of the divine Incarnation, and who seems about this time to have become archdeacon of Alexandria. At the Council of Nicaea, in the year 325, he appears prominently in connection with the dispute. He attended the council, not as one of its members (who were properly only bishops or delegates of bishops), but merely as the attendant of Alexander. In this capacity, however, he was apparently allowed to take part in its discussions, for Theodoret (i. 26) states that "he contended earnestly for the apostolic doctrines, and was applauded by their champions, while he earned the hostility of their opponents". Within `five months' after the return of Alexander to the scene of his episcopal labours he expired, and his friend and archdeacon was chosen to succeed him. He was elected in the sight and amidst the acclamations of the people. He was now about 30 years of age, and is spoken of as remarkable both for his physical and mental characteristics. He was small in stature, but his face was radiant with intelligence, as 'the face of an angel. This is the _expression of Gregory of Nazianzus (Orat., xxii. 9), who has written an elaborate panegyric upon his friend, describing him as fit 'to keep on a level with common-place views yet also to soar high above the more aspiring,' as accessible to all, slow to anger, quick in sympathy, pleasant in conversation, and still more pleasant in temper, effective alike in discourse and in action, assiduous in devotions, helpful to Christians of every class and age, a theologian with the speculative, a comforter of the afflicted, a staff to the aged, a guide of the young."

The first few years of the episcopate of Athanasius were tranquil; but the storms in which the remainder of his life was passed soon began to gather around him. The Council of Nicaea had settled the creed of Christendom, but had by no means composed the divisions in the church which the Arian controversy had provoked. Arius himself still lived, and his friend Eusebius of Nicomedia rapidly regained influence over the Emperor Constantine. The result of this was a demand made by the emperor that Arius should be re-admitted to communion. Athanasius stood firm, and refused to have any communion with the advocates of a "heresy that was fighting against Christ." Constantine was baffled for the moment; but many accusers soon rose up against one who was known to be under the frown of imperial displeasure. The archbishop of Alexandria was charged with cruelty, even with sorcery and murder. It was reported that a Meletian bishop in the Thebaid, of the name of Arsenius, had been unlawfully put to death by him. He was easily able to clear himself of such charges, but the hatred of his enemies was not relaxed, and in the summer of 335 he was peremptorily ordered to appear at Tyre, where a council had been summoned to sit in judgment upon his conduct. He did not venture to disobey the imperial order, and a commission was appointed to inquire into an alleged instance of cruelty urged against him, notwithstanding the explanations which he had made. There appeared plainly a predetermination to condemn him, and he fled from Tyre to Constantinople to appeal to the emperor himself. "He resolved," says Gibbon, "to make a bold and dangerous experiment, whether the throne was inaccessible to the voice of truth." He presented himself suddenly with five of his suffragans before the emperor, while riding into his new capital. Refused at first a hearing, his perseverance was at length rewarded by the emperor's consent to his reasonable request--that his accusers should be brought face to face with him in the imperial presence. The leaders of the Tyrian council, amongst the most conspicuous of whom were the two Eusebii, were accordingly summoned to Constantinople just after they had celebrated, at a great dedication festival at Jerusalem, the condemnation of Athanasius and the restoration of Arius to church communion. In confronting the former before Constantine they did not attempt to repeat the charge of cruelty, but found a more ready and effective weapon to their hands in a new charge of a political kind--that Athanasius had threatened to stop the Alexandrian corn-ships bound for Constantinople. Here, as in other matters, it is very difficult to understand how far there was any truth in the persistent accusations made against the prince-bishop of Alexandria. Probably there was in the very greatness of his character and the extent of his popular influence a certain species of dominance which lent a colour of truth to some of the things said against him. On the present occasion his accusers succeeded in at once arousing the imperial jealousy; and the consequence was, that, notwithstanding his earnest denial of the act attributed to him, he was banished to Trier, or Treves, the capital of Gaul.

This was the first banishment of Athanasius, which lasted about two years and a half. It was only brought to a close by the death of Constantine, and the accession of Constantine II. as emperor of the West. It is recorded by himself (Apol. 7) that, on his return to Alexandria, "the people ran in crowds to see his face; the churches were full of rejoicing; thanksgivings were offered up everywhere; the ministers and clergy thought the day the happiest in their lives." But this period of happiness was destined to be short-lived. His position as patriarch of Alexandria placed him, not under his friend Constantine II., but under Constantius, another son of the elder Constantine, who had succeeded to the throne of the East. He in his turn fell, as his father had done, more and more under the influence of the Nicomedian Eusebius, now transferred to the see of Constantinople. A second expulsion of Athanasius was accordingly resolved upon. The old charges against him were revived, with the addition of his having set at naught the decision of a council. It was further resolved on this occasion to put another bishop in his place. Accordingly, in the beginning of the year 340, a Cappadocian named Gregory, said to be an Arian, was installed by military force on the throne of the great defender of the faith, who, to save his followers from outrage, withdrew to a place of concealment. As soon as it was possible he repaired to Rome, to "lay his case before the church." He was declared innocent at a council held there in 342, and in another held at Sardica some years later. Julius, the bishop of Rome, warmly espoused his cause, and, generally, it may be said that the Western Church was Athanasian in its sympathies and its creed, while the majority of the Eastern bishops sided with the Eusebian party. This severance was clearly shown at the Council of Sardica, where the Orientals refused to meet with the representation of the Western Church, because the latter insisted on recognising the right of Athanasius and his friends to attend the council as regular bishops. The commonly received date of this council is 347, but the rediscovered Festal Letters of Athanasius have had the effect of throwing back this date for some years. It has been placed by some as early as the end of 343, by Mansi and others in the end of 344. The decision of the Council of Sardica, however, had no immediate effect in favour of Athanasius. Constantius continued for some time implacable, and the bold action of the Western bishops only incited the Arian party in Alexandria to fresh severities. Gradually, however, the excesses of the Arian party brought their own revenge, while the death of the intruded bishop Gregory, in the beginning of 345, opened up the way for a reconciliation betwixt the Eastern emporor and the banished prelate. The result was the restoration of Athanasius for the second time, amidst the enthusiastic demonstrations of the Alexandrian populace, which is represented by his panegyrist, Gregory Nazianzen, as streaming forth " like another Nile " to meet him in the distance as he approached the city. His restoration is supposed to have taken place, according to the more accurate chronology based upon the Festal Letters, in October 346.

For ten years at this time Athanasius held his ground in Alexandria. But the intrigues of the Arian or court party were soon renewed against him, and the feeble emperor, who had protested that he would never again listen to their accusations, was gradually stimulated to new hostilities. A large council was held at Milan in the spring of the year 356, and here, notwithstanding the vigorous opposition of a few faithful men amongst the Western bishops, a renewed condemnation of Athanasius was procured. This was followed up by the banishment of the faithful prelates, even of Hosius of Cordova, whose conciliatory character and intimate connection with the imperial family had not prevented him from addressing to Constantius a pathetic remonstrance against the tyranny of the Arian party. When his friends were thus scattered in exile, their great leader could not long escape; and on the night of the 8th of February 356, while he was engaged in service in the church of St Thomas, a band of armed men burst into the sacred building. He has himself described the scene (Apol. de fuga, 24). Here for a time he maintained his composure, and desired the deacon to read the psalm, and the people to respond--" For His mercy endureth for ever; " and how, as the soldiers rushed forward with fierce shouts towards the altar, he at length made his escape in the crowd, and sought once more a place of safe retirement. The solitudes of Upper Egypt, where numerous monasteries and hermitages had been planted, appear to have been his chief shelter at this time. Here, protected from pursuit, he spent his time in literary labours in behalf of his cause; and to this period, accordingly, belong some of his most important writings, above all the great Orations or Discourses against the Arians, which furnish the best exposition of his theological position and principles.

For six years at this time Athanasius continued in exile, till the death of Constantius in November 361 opened once more the way for his return to his episcopate. Julian, the successor to the imperial throne, professed indifference to the contentions of the church, and granted permission to the bishops exiled in the late reign to return home. Amongst others, Athanasius took advantage of this permission, and seated himself once more upon his throne, amidst the jubilations of the people. He had begun his episcopal labours with renewed ardour, and summoned a council to Alexandria to decide various important questions, when an imperial mandate yet again drove him from his place of power. The faithful gathered around him weeping. " Be of good heart," he said, " it is but a cloud it will soon pass." His forecast proved true; for within a few months Julian had closed his brief career of Pagan revival, and Athanasius "returned by night to Alexandria." He received a letter from the new emperor, Jovian, praising his Christian fidelity, and encouraging him to resume his work. With the emperor he continued to maintain friendly relations, and even drew out for him a synodal letter embodying the Nicene Creed, which was graciously received. During the brief reign of this bluff soldier-prince, comparative quiet prevailed in the church. But the repose was of short duration. In the spring of 365, after the accession of Valens, troubles reappeared. An order was issued for the expulsion of all bishops who had been expelled by Constantius, and Athanasius was once more forced to take refuge in concealment from his persecutors. His concealment, however, only lasted for four months, when an order came for his return; and from this time (Feb. 366) he was left undisturbed to pursue his episcopal labours. Those labours were unceasing in refuting heretics, in building churches, in rebuking rapacious governors, in comforting faithful bishops, and in strengthening the orthodox everywhere, till at length, in the spring of 373, "in a good old age," he ceased from all his work. Having consecrated one of his presbyters his successor, he died quietly in his own house. His "many struggles," according to his panegyrists, won him "many a crown." He was gathered to his fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, who had contended for the truth. Even those who fail to sympathize with the cause which Athanasius steadfastly maintained, cannot refuse their tribute of admiration to his magnanimous and heroic character. The cynic eloquence of Gibbon grows warm in recounting his adventurous career, and the language of Hooker breaks into stately fervour in celebrating his faith and fortitude. " The whole world against Athanasius, and Athanasius against it; half a hundred of years spent in doubtful trial which of the two in the end should prevail --the side which had all, or else the part which had no friends but God and death--the one a defender of his innocency, the other a finisher of all his troubles." If imperious in temper and inflexible in dogmatic determination, Athanasius had yet a great heart and intellect, enthusiastic in their devotion to Christ, and in work for the good of the church and of mankind.

His chief distinction as a theologian was his zealous advocacy of the essential divinity of Christ as co-equal in substance with the Father. This was the doctrine of the Homoousion, proclaimed by the Nicene Creed, and elaborately defended by his life and writings. Whether or not Athanasius first suggested the use of this _expression, he was its greatest defender; and the catholic doctrine of the Trinity has ever since been more identified with his "immortal" name than with any other in the history of the church and of Christian theology. (J.T.)

Encyclopaedia Britannica Ninth Edition, Vol. II Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1878

Released by Primus Pilus
Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]