The book selected for this Month of August, 2017 is Athanasius Defender of the Faith, by Michael Davis, published by Angelus Press (96 pages).
"The whole world groaned and was amazed to find itself Arian." So cried Saint Jerome. Athanasius was in exile (again), a compromised Pope occupied the Chair of Peter, hardly a bishop had the courage to confront the emperor Constantius. Twelve different creeds were competing for the allegiance of Christians; the Nicean Creed was forbidden.
The true Faith was being upheld by laymen, inspired by Athanasius, who held fast to what their bishops had taught them even though those same bishops had abandoned it by now.
Are there modern-day parallels in the Church and Her Churchmen? Yes, indeed!
The story of St. Athanasius proves that a bishop who is faithful to tradition could be repudiated, calumniated, persecuted, and even excommunicated by almost the entire episcopate, the Pope included. Obviously, this would be an abnormal situation. A Catholic can normally presume that the majority of bishops in union with the Pope will teach sound doctrine; he would be imprudent not to conform his belief and behavior to their teaching. But this is not always the case as the present situation of the Church demonstrates. There is hardly a diocese in the world where the bishop insures that Catholic children are taught sound doctrine, where Catholic moral and doctrinal teaching are not contradicted with impunity from the pulpit, where liturgical abuses which sometimes amount to sacrilege remain unrebuked. The Catholic world in the West today finds itself in a state of accelerating disintegration but for the most part does not groan and certainly does not seem amazed. Indeed, most of the bishops repeat ad nauseum that things have never been better, that we are living in the most flourishing period of the Church's history.
Meanwhile, conservative bishops who still want to maintain some sanity on the matter of morality are being persecuted. The most recent example was is Cardinal Muller who was demoted by Pope Francis, because he was not following his agenda of promoting communion for the divorcees, as per Amoris Laetitia.
So, the reading of the touching story of St. Athanasius should be a good summer reading, to help us how to keep the right Catholic spirit in our times.
Fr. Dominique Boulet, SSPX