Athanasius, Festal Letter 45 Fragment

For Monday of Lent Week 5

Let us all take up our sacrifices, observing distribution to the poor, and enter into the holy place, as it is written; “whither also our forerunner Jesus is entered for us, having obtained eternal redemption.” . . . (From the same:) . . . And this is a great proof that, whereas we were strangers, we are called friends; from being formerly aliens, we have become fellow citizens with the saints, and are called children of the Jerusalem which is above, whereof that which Solomon built was a type. For if Moses made all things according to the pattern showed him in the mount, it is clear that the service performed in the tabernacle was a type of the heavenly mysteries, whereto the Lord, desirous that we should enter, prepared for us the new and abiding way. And as all the old things were a type of the new, so the festival that now is, is a type of the joy which is above, to which coming with psalms and spiritual songs, let us begin the fasts.

Athanasius, Festal Letter 44 Fragment

For Friday of Lent Week 4

When therefore the servants of the Chief Priests and the Scribes saw these things, and heard from Jesus, “Whosoever is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink;” [John 7:37] they perceived that this was not a mere man like themselves, but that this was He Who gave water to the saints, and that it was He Who was announced by the prophet Isaiah. For He was truly the splendour of the light , and the Word of God. And thus as a river from the fountain he gave drink also of old to Paradise; but now to all men He gives the same gift of the Spirit, and says, “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.” Whosoever “believes in Me, as says the Scripture, rivers of living water shall flow out of his belly.” [John 7:37-38] This was not for man to say, but for the living God, Who truly vouchsafes life, and gives the Holy Spirit.

Athanasius, Festal Letter 43 Fragment

For Wednesday of Lent Week 4

Of us, then, whose also is the Passover, the calling is from above, and “our conversation is in heaven,” as Paul says; “For we have here no abiding city, but we seek that which is to come,” whereto, also, looking forward, we properly keep the feast. (And again, afterwards:) Heaven truly is high, and its distance from us infinite; for “the heaven of heavens,” says he, “is the Lord’s.” But not, on that account, are we to be negligent or fearful, as though the way thereto were impossible; but rather should we be zealous. Yet not, as in the case of those who formerly, removing from the east and finding a plain in Senaar, began [to build a tower], is there need for us to bake bricks with fire, and to seek slime for mortar; for their tongues were confounded, and their work was destroyed. But for us the Lord has consecrated a way through His blood, and has made it easy. (And again:) For not only has He afforded us consolation respecting the distance, but also in that He has come and opened the door for us which was once shut. For, indeed, it was shut from the time He cast out Adam from the delight of Paradise, and set the Cherubim and the flaming sword, that turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life—now, however, opened wide. And He that sits upon the Cherubim having appeared with greater grace and loving-kindness, led into Paradise with himself the thief who confessed, and having entered heaven as our forerunner, opened the gates to all. (And again:) Paul also, “pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling,” [Phil 3:14] by it was taken up to the third heaven, and having seen those things which are above, and then descended, he teaches us, announcing what is written to the Hebrews, and saying, “For you have not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and clouds, and darkness, and a tempest, and to the voice of words. But you have come to Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to the general assembly and Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven.” Who would not wish to enjoy the high companionship with these! Who not desire to be enrolled with these, that he may hear with them, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” [Matt 25:34]

Athanasius, Festal Letter 42 Fragment

For Tuesday of Lent Week 4

For we have been called, brethren, and are now called together, by Wisdom, and according to the Evangelical parable, to that great and heavenly Supper, and sufficient for every creature; I mean, to the Passover—to Christ, Who is sacrificed; for “Christ our Passover is sacrificed.” (And afterwards:) They, therefore, that are thus prepared shall hear, “Enter into the joy of your Lord. “

Athanasius, Festal Letter 40 Fragment

For Monday of Lent Week 4

“You are they that have continued with Me in My temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father has appointed unto Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom.” Being called, then, to the great and heavenly Supper, in that upper room which has been swept, let us “cleanse ourselves,” as the Apostle exhorted, “from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” [2 Cor 7:1]; that so, being spotless within and without—without, clothing ourselves with temperance and justice; within, by the Spirit, rightly dividing the word of truth—we may hear, “Enter into the joy of your Lord.” [Matt 25:21]

Athanasius, Festal Letter 29 Fragment

For Friday of Lent Week 3

The Lord proved the disciples, when He was asleep on the pillow, at which time a miracle was wrought, which is especially calculated to put even the wicked to shame. For when He arose, and rebuked the sea, and silenced the storm, He plainly showed two things; that the storm of the sea was not from the winds, but from fear of its Lord Who walked upon it, and that the Lord Who rebuked it was not a creature, but rather its Creator, since a creature is not obedient to another creature. For although the Red Sea was divided before by Moses [Exodus 14:21], yet it was not Moses who did it, for it came to pass, not because he spoke, but because God commanded. And if the sun stood still in Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon [Joshua 10:12], yet this was the work, not of the son of Nun, but of the Lord, Who heard his prayer He it was Who both rebuked the sea, and on the cross caused the sun to be darkened [Matthew 27:45].

Another Fragment
And whereas what is human comes to an end, what is divine does not. For which reason also when we are dead, and when our nature is tired out, he raises us up, and leads us up [though] born of earth to heaven.

Athanasius, Festal Letter 28 Fragment

For Thursday of Lent Week 3

. . . In order that while He might become a sacrifice for us all, we, nourished up in the words of truth, and partaking of His living doctrine, might be able with the saints to receive also the joy of Heaven. For there, as He called the disciples to the upper chamber, so does the Word call us with them to the divine and incorruptible banquet; having suffered for us here, but there, preparing the heavenly tabernacles for those who most readily hearken to the summons, and unceasingly, and [gazing] at the goal, pursue the prize of their high calling; where for them who come to the banquet, and strive with those who hinder them, there is laid up both a crown, and incorruptible joy. For even though, humanly speaking, the labour of such a journey is great, yet the Saviour Himself has rendered even it light and kindly.

Athanasius, Festal Letter 27 Fragment

For Wednesday of Lent Week 3

For who is our joy and boast, but our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who suffered for us, and by Himself made known to us the Father? For He is no other than He Who of old time spoke by the Prophets; but now He says to every man, “I Who speak am near.” [John 4:26] Right well is this word spoken, for He does not at one time speak, at another keep silence; but continually and at all times, from the beginning without ceasing, He raises up every man, and speaks to every man in his heart.

Athanasius, Festal Letters 22 & 24 Fragments

For Tuesday of Lent Week 3

Fragment of Festal Letter 22 (for AD 350)

Where our Lord Jesus Christ, who took upon Him to die for all, stretched forth His hands, not somewhere on the earth beneath, but in the air itself, in order that the Salvation effected by the Cross might be shown to be for all men everywhere: destroying the devil who was working in the air: and that He might consecrate our road up to Heaven, and make it free.

Fragment of Festal Letter 24 (for AD 352)

And at that time when they went forth and crossed over Egypt, their enemies were the sport of the sea; but now, when we pass over from earth to Heaven, Satan himself henceforth falls like lightning from Heaven.

Selections from Athanasius, Festal Letter 20

For Monday of Lent Week 3

1 Let us now keep the feast, my brethren, for as our Lord then gave notice to His disciples, so He now tells us beforehand, that “after some days is the Passover,” in which the Jews indeed betrayed the Lord, but we celebrate His death as a feast, rejoicing because we then obtained rest from our afflictions. We are diligent in assembling ourselves together, for we were scattered in time past and were lost, and are found. We were far off, and are brought near, we were strangers, and have become His, Who suffered for us, and was nailed on the cross, Who bore our sins, as the prophet says, and was afflicted for us, that He might put away from all of us grief, and sorrow, and sighing. When we thirst, He satisfies us on the feast-day itself; standing and crying, “If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink.” For such is the love of the saints at all times, that they never once leave off, but offer the uninterrupted, constant sacrifice to the Lord, and continually thirst, and ask of Him to drink; as David sang, “My God, my God, early will I seek You, my soul thirsts for You; many times my heart and flesh longs for You in a barren land, without a path, and without water. Thus was I seen by You in the sanctuary.” And Isaiah the prophet says, “From the night my spirit seeks You early, O God, because Your commandments are light.” And another says, “My soul faints for the longing it has for Your judgments at all times.” And again he says, “For Your judgments I have hoped, and Your law will I keep at all times.” Another boldly cries out, saying, “My eye is ever towards the Lord.” And with him one says, “The meditation of my heart is before You at all times.” And Paul further advises, “At all times give thanks; pray without ceasing.” Those who are thus continually engaged, are waiting entirely on the Lord, and say, “Let us follow on to know the Lord: we shall find Him ready as the morning, and He will come to us as the early and the latter rain for the earth.” For not only does He satisfy them in the morning; neither does He give them only as much to drink as they ask; but He gives them abundantly according to the multitude of His lovingkindness, vouchsafing to them at all times the grace of the Spirit. And what it is they thirst for He immediately adds, saying, “He that believes in Me.” For, “as cold waters are pleasant to those who are thirsty,” according to the proverb, so to those who believe in the Lord, the coming of the Spirit is better than all refreshment and delight.

2 It becomes us then in these days of the Passover, to rise early with the saints, and approach the Lord with all our soul, with purity of body, with confession and godly faith in Him; so that when we have here first drunk, and are filled with these divine waters which [flow] from Him, we may be able to sit at table with the saints in heaven, and may share in the one voice of gladness which is there.