The Catholic Church has faced numerous challenged throughout the ages, not only from the outside of the Church but also from the inside. The Church is battling the errors of the Protestantism and other religious cult while fighting the heresy of modernism that was preached against by saints and popes. Today, these errors have spread inside the church. Many embrace these errors but there are still people who continue to fight it. Many faithful do not accept the traditional teachings anymore and prefer to believe the modern teachings that endangers the soul of those who accept it. The Catholic Church faced a great problem when the heresy of Martin Luther spread all over the world and branched out to many Protestant churches like the so-called Born Again Christians. This wasn’t the first time that the the church was challenged by false doctrines. Let recall the story of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria.
Saint Athanasius was the Archbishop of Alexandria in 328 A.D. He had a good educational background in Christian Doctrine. When he was young, he was taught by the former Archbishop of Alexandria, Saint Alexander of Alexandria. He was also a friend of Saint Anthony of Egypt. In 318 A.D., he became deacon and a secretary of Saint Alexander. Then in 323 A.D., there was a priest in Alexandria called Arius who refused the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and spread this heresy in different places which results to Arianism which Saint Alexander together with Saint Athansius condemned. Here, Arius and his followers was excommunicated by Saint Alexander.
In 328 A.D., after Saint Alexander died, Saint Athansius becomes the new Archbishop and continue to fight against Arianism’s heresies. This battle got bigger when one of Arius’ supporter went to Emperor Constantine to convinced Athanasius to lift up Arius’ Excommunication. But Athanasius didn’t followed the emperor’s command. Because of this, Saint Athanasius made more enemies including the Arians which they fabricate a crime that Saint Athanasius didn’t commit. Here, he was exiled in Tier (Now Germany). After two years, and with the death of Emperor Constantine and Arius, Saint Athanasius returned to Alexandria. But now, facing the new emperor who supported Arianism, Emperor Constantius. Saint Athanasius continued to defend the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and once again he was exiled twice under Emperor Constantius’ reign.
When Julian becomes the emperor, he returned the people that Constantius exiled, including Saint Athanasius. But he also exiled Saint Athanasius because the Saint refused the pagan ways of the emperor. When Jovian become the emperor, he returned Saint Athanasius to Alexandria but this was cut short when Jovian died after a few Months. Here, Valens become the emperor who is also close to the Arians. Once again, Saint Athanasius was exiled after a few months, the Emperor returned him to Alexandria. Here, Saint Athanasius was called “Athanasius against the World.”
Saint Athanasius, fixed the errors that the Arians and the previous made inside the church together with Saint Pope Damasus who has a strong character. Under the lead of Saint Pope Damasus, no one can be ordained bishop if he didn’t accept the Nicene Creed, which accepted the Holy Trinity and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Saint Athanasius died on May 2, 373, but he’s legacy lives on. If we want to stand against the errors inside and outside the church, we must become like Saint Athanasius, even if we seem to be against the world, we must defend the truth.
Saint Athanasius, pray for us.