Day 3/50 of Eastertide (Holy Fifty Days) – Especially now, let us REJOICE in our afflictions – St. Athanasius the Apostolic

red sea crossing

But the faithful and true servants of the Lord, knowing that the Lord loves the thankful, never cease to praise Him, ever giving thanks unto the Lord. And whether the time is one of ease or of affliction, they offer up praise to God with thanksgiving, not reckoning these things of time, but worshipping the Lord, the God of times. Thus of old time, Job, who possessed fortitude above all men, thought of these things when in prosperity; and when in adversity, he patiently endured, and when he suffered, gave thanks.

As also the humble David, in the very time of affliction sang praises and said, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times’ (Ps 34:1). And the blessed Paul, in all his Epistles, so to say, never ceased to thank God. In times of ease, he failed not, and in afflictions he gloried, knowing that ‘tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope and that hope does not disappoint’ (Rom 5:3).

Let us, being followers of such men, pass no season without thanksgiving, but especially now, when the time is one of tribulation, which the heretics excite against us, will we praise the Lord, uttering the words of the saints; ‘All these things have come upon us, yet have we not forgotten You’ (Ps 44:17). For as the Jews at that time, although suffering an assault from the tabernacles (compare Ps 83:6) of the Edomites, and oppressed by the enemies of Jerusalem, did not give themselves up, but all the more sang praises to God; so we, my beloved brethren, though hindered from speaking the word of the Lord, will the more proclaim it, and being afflicted, we will sing Psalms (James 5:13), in that we are accounted worthy to be despised, and to labour anxiously for the truth.

Yea, moreover, being grievously vexed, we will give thanks. For the blessed Apostle, who gave thanks at all times, urges us in the same manner to draw near to God saying, ‘Let your requests, with thanksgiving, be made known unto God’ (Phi 4:6). And being desirous that we should always continue in this resolution, he says, ‘At all times give thanks; pray without ceasing’ (1 Thes 5:17). For he knew that believers are strong while employed in thanksgiving, and that rejoicing they pass over the walls of the enemy, like those saints who said, ‘Through You will we pierce through our enemies, and by my God I will leap over a wall’ (Ps 18:29).

At all times let us stand firm, but especially now, although many afflictions overtake us, and many heretics are furious against us. Let us then, my beloved brethren, celebrate with thanksgiving the holy feast which now draws near to us, ‘girding up the loins of our minds’ (1 Pet 1:13), like our Saviour Jesus Christ, of Whom it is written, ‘Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins’ (Is 11:5). Each one of us having in his hand the staff which came out of the root of Jesse, and our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel (Is 11:1, Eph 6:15), let us keep the feast as Paul says, ‘Not with the old leaven, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor 5:8);’ reverently trusting that we are reconciled through Christ, and not departing from faith in Him, nor do we defile ourselves together with heretics, and strangers to the truth, whose conversation and whose will degrade them.

But rejoicing in afflictions, we break through the furnace of iron and darkness, and pass, unharmed, over that terrible Red Sea. Thus also, when we look upon the confusion of heretics, we shall, with Moses, sing that great song of praise, and say, ‘We will sing unto the Lord, for He is to be gloriously praised’ (Ex 15:1). Thus, singing praises, and seeing that the sin which is in us has been cast into the sea, we pass over to the wilderness. And being first purified by the fast of forty days, by prayers, and fastings, and discipline, and good works, we shall be able to eat the holy Passover in Jerusalem.

[St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, Festal Letter III, 331AD]

 

Some points of contemplation and prayer from the above:

+ Lord, help us to be thankful for every condition, thankful that even in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have Your Resurrection and the promise of eternal life with You +

+Lord help us to stand firm, no matter our circumstances, knowing that You are the hope of the hopeless, the harbour in the storm, and only in You will we find strength and rest +

+ Lord, help us to praise You! In our homes, with the technology You have blessed us with, at every occasion!+

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