Christ is Risen!
When I read the account of Saint Athanasios the Great, I feel both pride and guilt. I have a sense of pride, not deserved for sure, because he is my patron Saint from whom I gain much of my admiration. I have a sense of guilt because it always feels like I’m bragging to discuss how great this saint really was.
Today is the commemoration of the translation of his relics. His death is commemorated on January 18, the date most celebrate this great saint. You may not know that there are not many saints which the Church names “great” in their title. When you consider myriad saints throughout history, less than two dozen are named, great.
In the case of Saint Athanasios, he was present at the first Ecumenical Council. He helped to write the Creed. He led the fight against Arius. His zeal for the faith, was the source of fear for many heretical emperors. He was the first to formally, and with authority, compile the list of the books in the Old Testament and New Testament. He was exiled multiple times, always to return in glory after drawing even more converts to Christ. He was universally loved. He was, in the true sense, great.
I say all this today, not to boast about my patron saint. I say this to call YOU to greatness. It may be too late for you to attend an Ecumenical Council. The Creed is already written. The books of the Bible are no longer argued about. So, what’s left?
We read the stories of Great Saints not only for historical purposes, but to inspire us. Imagine yourself fighting for the truth of Orthodoxy in a land that is quickly abandoning any sense of Christ. Imagine your life being an inspiration that draws others to believe in Christ, in spite of the society’s moral failures.
It begins with how you live your life. Saint Athanasios wasn’t just an educated Christian. He was a faithful Christian. He didn’t just talk about Christ. He lived Christ. He didn’t just lead his flock as Patriarch from the comfort of his computer screen like so many ‘keyboard warriors’ today. He led from exile, in hiding and secret.
Now it is your turn to be great. Go, and be an inspiration to others to live for Christ in spite of our society failures, sometimes even in spite of our Church failures.