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Wednesday, May 2, 2001

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St. Athanasius

Acts 8:1-8
Psalm 66
John 6:35-40

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hard times are good times

A certain "Saul, for his part, concurred in the act of killing. That day saw the beginning of a great persecution of the Church." —Acts 8:1

We can be witnessing for the risen Christ by preaching (Acts 2:14ff), healing (Acts 3:7), rejoicing (Acts 3:8; 8:8), worshiping (see Jn 20:28), suffering (Acts 5:41), dying (Acts 7:60), etc. We can also witness for the risen Christ by continuing to serve the Lord, especially during hard times. For example, "devout men buried Stephen, bewailing him loudly as they did so. After that, Saul began to harass the Church. He entered house after house, dragged men and women out, and threw them into jail. The members of the Church who had been dispersed went about preaching the word" (Acts 8:2-4). In terrible times, the Church continued to focus on its work of preaching the good news of the risen Christ.

St. Athanasius was exiled so many times that it is hard to count them. He suffered persecution for many years. However, all the sufferings seemed to motivate him rather than slow him down.

Our natural reactions to hard times are to shut down or to compensate. When things are bad, we tend to lose our motivation or busily exhaust ourselves on escapist activities. Only disciples of Jesus can witness, preach, forgive, and love from the cross. When we persevere and even accelerate our service to the Lord in difficult times, we witness to the love and power of the risen Christ. Paradoxically, the cross is the prime place from which to proclaim Jesus' resurrection. Make hard times good times. Keep keeping on.

Prayer:  Father, increase my zeal in hard times.

Promise:  "No one who comes will I ever reject." —Jn 6:37

Praise:  St. Athanasius almost single-handedly rescued the Church  from the heresy of Arianism, which maintained that Jesus was not divine. He believed so strongly that Jesus was God that he was exiled at least six times during his life.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, December 9, 2000

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 12, 2000