Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria

2 May -- Lesser Festival -- Teacher of the Faith -- White

Athanasius was born in about the year 296 of Christian parents and educated at the Catechetical school in Alexandria. He was present at the Council of Nicaea as a deacon, accompanying his bishop Alexander, whom he succeeded as Patriarch in the year 328. Athanasius held firmly to the doctrines of the Church as defined by that Council, and became the leader of those opposed to the teachings of Arian, which denied the divinity of Christ. He was deposed from -- and restored to -- his See several times because of his uncompromising faith. In or out of exile, Athanasius continued his writings, ever the proponent of orthodoxy over heterodoxy and the essential need for the Church to teach the true doctrines of the faith rather than watered-down versions of it. He was a strong believer in asceticism as a means of restoring the divine image in humanity and thus a supporter of monasticism, which was in its nascent state at that time. He was a friend of Pachomius and wrote the Life of Antony of Egypt, which showed the cenobitic life as holding a balance between things earthly and heavenly. He died on this day in the year 373.


Everliving God,
whose servant Athanasius testified
   to the mystery of the Word made flesh for our salvation:
help us, with all your saints,
to contend for the truth
and to grow into the likeness of your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A reading from the book Ecclesiasticus.

Watch for the opportune time, and beware of evil, and do not be ashamed to be yourself. For there is a shame that leads to sin, and there is a shame that is glory and favour. Do not show partiality, to your own harm, or deference, to your downfall. Do not refrain from speaking at the proper moment, and do not hide your wisdom. For wisdom becomes known through speech, and education through the words of the tongue. Never speak against the truth, but be ashamed of your ignorance. Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, and do not try to stop the current of a river. Do not subject yourself to a fool, or show partiality to a ruler. Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will fight for you.

This is the word of the Lord.         Ecclesiasticus 4. 20-28

Responsorial Psalm

RAcknowledge the servants who bow before you, O Lord,
[and bless the inheritance of your Son's redeeming].
Why are the nations in an uproar?
Why do the peoples mutter empty threats?
Why do the kings of the earth rise up in revolt
and the princes plot together,
against the Lord and against his anointed? R

Let me announce the decree of the Lord:
he said to me, "You are my Son, this day have I begotten you.
Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession." R

And now, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Submit to the Lord with fear,
and with trembling bow before him; R

Lest he be angry and you perish;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Happy are they all
who take refuge in him! R         From Psalm 2

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Colossians.

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers -- all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

This is the word of the Lord.         Colossians 1. 11-20

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.

Jesus said to his disciples, "A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a servant above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the servant like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops."

This is the gospel of Christ.         Matthew 10. 24-27

Post Communion

God of truth,
whose Wisdom set her table
and invited us to eat the bread and drink the wine
   of the kingdom:
help us to lay aside all foolishness
and to live and walk in the way of insight,
that we may come with your servant Athanasius
   to the eternal feast of heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.