Fathers of the Church

From Festal Letter XXVII

Description

We notice in the Festal Letters the same simplicity of style, vigor and warmth that pervades Athanasius’s other writings. Naturally the coming Easter season occupies a prominent place and a tone of joy predominates. (Quasten) Following is a fragment from the Fetal Letter of 355.

Provenance

During the third century it had become a custom with the bishops of Alexandria to announce the beginning of Lent and the correct date of Easter each year to the suffragan sees by a letter issued usually shortly after Epiphany. Such a pastoral contained in addition a discussion of current ecclesiastical affairs or problems of Christian life and exhortations to observe the fast, to almsgiving and the reception of the sacraments. Dionysius of Alexandria is the first known to have sent such Easter Letters. Athanasius remained loyal to this tradition, even when he was in exile. Shortly after his death these letters were brought together by one of his friends and the collection was given wide distribution. (Quasten) At the time of publication only the first thirteen of these letters were extant, in Syriac; others have since been discovered. For many of the letters, further information about the circumstances of composition may be found in the early Index to the Festal Letters.

by Athanasius in 355 | translated by Payne-Smith

From the twenty-seventh Festal Letter of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria and Confessor; of which the commencement is, 'Again the season of the day of the living Passover.'

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 saith to every man, 'I Who speak am near.' 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.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (NPNF II/IV, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.