Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This month, on the 18th of January, our Holy Orthodox Church will be celebrating our Patron Saint, the Saint Athanasios Patriarch of Alexandria.
Saint Athanasios the Great, Patriarch of Alexandria, was a great Father of the Church and a pillar of Orthodoxy. He was born around the year 297 in the city of Alexandria into a family of pious Christians. He received a fine secular education, but he acquired more knowledge by diligent study of the Holy Scripture. In his childhood, the future hierarch Athanasios became known to St Alexander the Patriarch of Alexandria (May 29). A group of children, which included Athanasios, were playing at the seashore. The Christian children decided to baptize their pagan playmates.
The young Athanasios, whom the children designated as “bishop”, performed the Baptism, precisely repeating the words he heard in church during this sacrament. Patriarch Alexander observed all this from a window. He then commanded that the children and their parents be brought to him. He conversed with them for a long while, and determined that the Baptism performed by the children was done according to the Church order. He acknowledged the Baptism as real and sealed it with the sacrament of Chrismation. From this moment, the Patriarch looked after the spiritual upbringing of Athanasios and in time brought him into the clergy, at first as a reader, and then he ordained him as a deacon.
It was as a deacon that St Athanasios accompanied Patriarch Alexander to the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in the year 325. At the Council, St Athanasios refuted of the heresy of Arius. His speech met with the approval of the Orthodox Fathers of the Council, but the Arians, those openly and those secretly so, came to hate Athanasios and persecuted him for the rest of his life.
After the death of holy Patriarch Alexander, St Athanasios was unanimously chosen as his successor in the See of Alexandria. He refused, accounting himself unworthy, but at the insistence of all the Orthodox populace that it was in agreement, he was consecrated bishop when he was twenty-eight, and installed as the archpastor of the Alexandrian Church. St Athanasios guided the Church for forty-seven years, and during this time he endured persecution and grief from his antagonists. Several times he was expelled from Alexandria and hid himself from the Arians in desolate places, since they repeatedly tried to kill him. St Athanasios spent more than twenty years in exile, returned to his flock, and then was banished again.
There was a time when he remained as the only Orthodox bishop in the area, a moment when all the other bishops had fallen into heresy. At the false councils of Arian bishops he was deposed as bishop. Despite being persecuted for many years, the saint continued to defend the purity of the Orthodox Faith, and he wrote countless letters and tracts against the Arian heresy.
When Julian the Apostate (361-363) began a persecution against Christians, his wrath first fell upon St Athanasios, whom he considered a great pillar of Orthodoxy. Julian intended to kill the saint in order to strike Christianity a grievous blow, but he soon perished himself. Mortally wounded by an arrow during a battle, he cried out with despair: “You have conquered, O Galilean.” After Julian’s death, St Athanasios guided the Alexandrian Church for seven years and died in 373, at the age of seventy-six.
Numerous works of St Athanasios have been preserved; four Orations against the Arian heresy; also an Epistle to Epictetus, bishop of the Church of Corinth, on the divine and human natures in Jesus Christ; four Epistles to Serapion, Bishop of Thmuis, about the Holy Spirit and His Equality with the Father and the Son, directed against the heresy of Macedonius.
Other apologetic works in defense of Orthodoxy have been preserved, among which is the Letter to the emperor Constantius. St Athanasios wrote commentaries on Holy Scripture, and books of a moral and didactic character, as well as a biography of St Anthony the Great (January 17), with whom St Athanasios was very close. St John Chrysostom advised every Orthodox Christian to read this Life.
Through the prayers of the Saint Athanasios the Great, the protector of our church and parishioners , Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and save us!
May the blessing and the mercy of the Lord be with you!
Father Sasa Turkic
Blessing of homes
Blessing homes of Orthodox Christians is done each year on or after the feast of Theophany. This act is the central sign of God's sanctification of all things through Christ's Baptism in the river Jordan and his epiphany to the world. This is a very personal way of inviting God into our lives and our homes.
A priest should also be invited any time during the year to bless your new home or your new business. When the priest comes, all who are present in the house should gather around the icon with the candle. They should, if they are able to join in, say the Trisagion Prayers and sing of the Troparion of the Feast of Epiphany. Then a family member leads the priest through the house with the candle. As he goes, he sprinkles holy water, and prays for a blessing upon each room and the activity that goes on there. When they have gone through the entire house, the family gathers again around the table and the priest blesses each person present.
Please, call Father Sasa to set up a time. 251-233-3128
Thank you, and God bless you and your families!