May 2, 2014

Creature Discomfort

Athanasius appears not to have been a cheerful chap. He had a good deal about which to be grumpy, including most importantly the threat that Arianism posed to the Christian faith. In his youth Athanasius attended the Council of Nicea, and he became and remained a powerful opponent of the teaching of Arius that rendered the Son of God a creature. To do this Athanasius had to step beyond the lexicon of Scripture to introduce the word homoousios  to describe the ontological unity of the Father and the Son, being "of one substance," and incidentally meaning just about the exact opposite of what we mean when we say that two things are "substantially the same." (This also demonstrates the principle that the truths of the faith cannot always be completely explained in the language of the Scripture.)

I'm continuing my venture of using living models for some of the early saints for whom no true likeness exists. Athanasius is usually portrayed as a sage elder, but I wanted to picture him more as the stern young man with penetrating gaze and the air of conviction he must have had in Nicea. So I asked my brother in Christ Joseph Basil if he was willing to model, and he agreed. I asked him to give me the hairy eyeball of a stern but concerned RN, and he obliged. So Athanasius is portrayed as one eager to bring the healing that adherence to a strict regimen and protocol provides. (Basil was one of Athanasius' biggest fans, by the way; he called him the "God-given physician of the church's wounds" — so a registered nurse is not too far off!)

Here is the collect for Athanasius:

Uphold your Church, O God of truth, as you upheld your servant Athanasius, to maintain and proclaim boldly the catholic faith against all opposition, trusting solely in the grace of your eternal Word, who took upon himself our humanity that we might share his divinity; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


John Julian said...

Between you and Br. Joseph Basil you truly got Athanasius spot on—as well in terms of his being a valiant defender of the faith, a bit of a pesky irritant, and an opinionated opponent no one would lightly to take on!

One wonders what kind of general reputation a modern bishop would have who underwent disciplinary suspension from his diocesan post FIVE times in the course of his episcopacy — for periods ranging up to eight years!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Fr. John-Julian. Given today's allergy to any actions, I doubt Athanasius would have survived more than two episodes of discipline... ;-(