Catholic bishops across the globe world are often forced to make a courageous stand in defense of truth while facing the world’s opposition. They are doing what bishops have done throughout history, including the bishop we honor today, St. Athanasius.
Athanasius was a fourth century bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, which at the time was a major center of Christian activity and thinking. Because he stridently defended the doctrine that Jesus is truly God, he faced opposition from emperors, magistrates, and many intellectuals of his day. Five times he was forced into exile. As he often seemed to stand alone in his position, his contemporaries said of him, “Athanasius contra mundi”, or “Athanasius against the world.”
We should give thanks to God today for the courageous witness of bishops from the past like Athanasius, and we should give thanks for the courageous witness of bishops in our own age. In addition to our gratitude, we should support our bishops though prayer, acceptance of their teaching, and public advocacy for their positions, so that unlike Athanasius, they don’t stand alone against the world. The world needs our bishops, and our world- and our bishops- need us.