LETTERS OF ATHANASIUS
WITH TWO ANCIENT CHRONICLES
OF HIS LIFE
HISTORIA ACEPHALA
FESTAL LETTERS I TO V

I. FESTAL LETTERS

LETTER I. For 329.

Easter-day xi Phartmuthi; viii Id. April; AEr. Dioclet. 45; Coss. Constantinus Aug. VIII. Constantinus Caes. IV; Praefect. Septimius Zenius; Indict. II.

OF FASTING, AND TRUMPETS, AND FEASTS.

COME, my beloved, the season calls us to keep the feast. Again, 'the Sun of Righteousness(1), causing His divine beams to rise upon us, proclaims beforehand the time of the feast, in which, obeying Him, we ought to celebrate it, test when the time has passed by, gladness likewise may pass us by. For discerning the time is one of the duties most urgent on us, for the practice of virtue; so that the blessed Paul, when instructing his disciple, teaches him to observe the time, saying, 'Stand (ready) in season, and out of season(2)'--that knowing both the one and the other, be might do things befitting the season, and avoid the blame of unseasonableness. For thus the God of all, after the manner of wise Solomon(3), distributes everything in time and season, to the end that, in due time, the salvation of men should be everywhere spread abroad. Thus the 'Wisdom of God(4),' our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, not out of season, but in season, 'passed upon holy souls, fashioning the friends of God and the prophets(5);' so that although very many were praying for Him, and saying, 'O that the salvation of God were come out of Sion(6)!'--the Spouse also, as it is written in the Song of Songs, was praying and saying, 'O that Thou wert my sister's son, that sucked the breasts of my mother(7)!' that Thou wert like the children of men, and wouldest take upon Thee human passions for our sake!--nevertheless, the God of all, the Maker of times and seasons, Who knows our affairs better than we do, while, as a good physician, He exhorts to obedience in season--the only one in which we may be healed--so also does He send Him not unseasonably, but seasonably, saying, 'In an acceptable time have I heard Thee, and in the day of salvation I have helped Thee

2. And, on this account, the blessed Paul, urging us to note this season, wrote, saying, 'Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation(9).' At set seasons also He called the children of Israel to the Levitical feasts by Moses, saying, 'Three times in a year ye shall keep a feast to Me(10)' (one of which, my beloved, is that now at hand), the trumpets of the priests sounding and urging its observance; as the holy Psalmist commanded, saying, 'Blow with the trumpet in the new moon, on the [solemn] day of your feast(11).' Since this sentence enjoins upon us to blow both on the new moons, and on the solemn days, He hath made a solemn day of that in which the light of the moon is perfected in the full; which was then a type, as is this of the trumpets. At one time, as has been said, they called to the feasts; at another time to fasting and to war. And this was not done without solemnity, nor by chance, but this sound of the trumpets was appointed, so that every man should come to that which was proclaimed. And this ought to be learned not merely from me, but from the divine Scriptures, when God was revealed to Moses, and said, as it is written in the book of Numbers; 'And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Make to thee two trumpets; of silver shalt thou make them, and they shall be for thee to call the congregation(13);'--very properly for those who here love Him. So that we may know that these things had reference to the time of Moses--yea, were to be observed so long as the shadow lasted, the whole being appointed for use, 'till the time of reformation(1).' 'For' (said He) 'if ye shall go out to battle in your land against your enemies that rise up against you(2)' (for such things as these refer to the land, and no further), 'then ye shall proclaim with the trumpets, and shall be remembered before the Lord, and be delivered from your enemies.' Not only in wars did they blow the trumpet, but under the law, there was a festal trumpet also. Hear him again, going on to say, 'And in the day of your gladness, and in your feasts, and your new moons, ye shall blow with the trumpets(3).' And let no man think it a light and contemptible matter, if he hear the law command respecting trumpets; it is a wonderful and fearful thing. For beyond any other voice or instrument, the trumpet is awakening and terrible; so Israel received instruction by these means, because he was then but a child. But in order that the proclamation should not be thought merely human, being superhuman, its sounds resembled those which were uttered when they trembled before the mount(4); and they were reminded of the law that was then given them, and kept it.

3. For the law was admirable, and the shadow was excellent, otherwise, it would not have wrought fear, and induced reverence in those who heard; especially in those who at that time not only heard but saw these things. Now these things were typical, and done as in a shadow. But let us pass on to the meaning, and henceforth leaving the figure at a distance, come to the truth, and look upon the priestly trumpets of our Saviour, which cry out, and call us, at one time to war, as the blessed Paul saith; 'We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities, with powers, with the rulers of this dark world. with wicked spirits in heaven(5).' At another time the call is made to virginity, and self-denial, and conjugal harmony, saying, To virgins, the things of virgins; and to those who love the way of abstinence, the things of abstinence; and to those who are married(6), the things of an honourable marriage; thus assigning to each its own virtues and an honourable recompense. Sometimes the call is made to fasting, and sometimes to a feast. Hear again the same [Apostle] blowing the trumpet, and proclaiming, 'Christ our Passover is sacrificed; therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness(7).' If thou wouldest listen to a trumpet much greater than all these, hear our Saviour saying; 'In that last and great clay of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink(8).' For it became the Saviour not simply to call us to a feast, but to 'the great feast;' if only we will be prepared to hear, and to conform to the proclamation of every trumpet.

4. For since, as I before said, there are divers proclamations, listen, as in a figure, to the prophet blowing the trumpet; and further, having turned to the truth, be ready for the announcement of the trumpet, for he saith, Blow ye the trumpet in Sion: sanctify a fast(9).' This is a warning trumpet, and commands with great earnestness, that when we fast, we should hallow the fast. For not all those who call upon God, hallow God, since there are some who defile Him; yet not Him--that is impossible--but their own mind concerning Him; for He is holy, and has pleasure in the saints(10). And therefore the blessed Paul accuses those who dishonour God; 'Transgressors of the law dishonour God(11).' So then, to make a separation from those who pollute the fast, he saith here, 'sanctify a fast.' For many, crowding to the fast, pollute themselves in the thoughts of their hearts, sometimes by doing evil against their brethren, sometimes by daring to defraud. And, to mention nothing else, there are many who exalt themselves above their neighbours, thereby causing great mischief. For the boast of fasting did no good to the Pharisee, although he fasted twice in the week(12), only because he exalted himself against the publican. In the same manner the Word blamed the children of Israel on account of such a fast as this, exhorting them by Isaiah the Prophet, and saying, 'This is not the fast and the day that I have chosen, that a man should humble his soul; not even if thou shouldest bow down thy neck like a hook, and shouldest strew sackcloth and ashes under thee; neither thus shall ye call the fast acceptable(13).' That we may be able to shew what kind of persons we should be when we fast, and of what character the fast should be, listen again to God commanding Moses, and saying, as it is written in Leviticus(14), 'And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, In the tenth day of this seventh month, there shall be a day of atonement; a convocation, and a holy day shall it be to you; and ye shall humble your souls, and offer whole burnt-offerings unto the Lord.' And afterwards, that the law might be defined on this point, He proceeds to say; 'Every soul that shall not humble itself, shall be cut off from the people(15).'

5. Behold, my brethren, how much a fast can do, and in what manner the law commands us to fast. It is required that not only with the body should we fast, but with the soul. Now the soul is humbled when it does not follow wicked opinions, but feeds on becoming virtues. For virtues and vices are the food of the soul and it can eat either of these two meats, and incline to either of the two, according to its own will. If it is bent toward virtue, it will be nourished by virtues, by righteousness, by temperance, by meekness, by fortitude, as Paul saith; 'Being nourished by the word of truth(16).' Such was the case with our Lord, who said, 'My meat is to do the will of My Father which is in heaven(17).' But if it is not thus with the soul, and it inclines downwards, it is then nourished by nothing but sin. For thus the Holy Ghost, describing sinners and their food, referred to the devil when He said, 'I have given him to be meat to the people of AEthiopia(18).' For this is the food of sinners. And as our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, being heavenly bread, is the food of the saints, according to this; 'Except ye eat My flesh, and drink My blood(1);' so is the devil the food of the impure, and of those who do nothing which is of the light, but work the deeds of darkness. Therefore, in order to withdraw and turn them from vices, He commands them to be nourished with the food of virtue; namely, humbleness of mind, lowliness to endure humiliations, the acknowledgment of God. For not only does such a fast as this obtain pardon for souls, but being kept holy, it prepares the saints, and raises them above the earth.

6. And indeed that which I am about to say is wonderful, yea it is of those things which are very miraculous; yet not far from the truth, as ye may be able to learn from the sacred(2) writings. That great man Moses, when fasting, conversed with God, and received the law. The great and holy Elijah, when fasting, was thought worthy of divine visions, and at last was taken up like Him who ascended into heaven. And Daniel, when fasting, although a very young man, was entrusted with the mystery, and he alone understood the secret things of the king, and was thought worthy of divine visions. But because the length of the fast of these men was wonderful, and the days prolonged, let no man lightly fall into unbelief; but rather let him believe and know, that the contemplation of God, and the word which is from Him, suffice to nourish those who hear, and stand to them in place of all food. For the angels are no otherwise sustained than by beholding at alI times the face of the Father, and of the Saviour who is in heaven. And thus Moses, as long as he talked with God, fasted indeed bodily, but was nourished by divine words. When he descended among men, and God was gone up from him, he suffered hunger like other men. For it is not said that he fasted longer than forty days--those in which he was conversing with God. And, generally, each one of the saints has been thought worthy of similar transcendent nourishment.

7. Wherefore, my beloved, having our souls nourished with divine food, with the Word, and according to the will of God, and fasting bodily in things external, let us keep this great and saving feast as becomes us. Even the ignorant Jews received this divine food, through the type, when they ate a lamb in the passover. But not understanding the type, even to this day they eat the lamb, erring in that they are without the city and the truth. As long as Judaea and the city existed, there were a type, and a lamb, and a shadow, since the law thus commanded(3): These things shall not be done in another city; but in the land of Judaea, and in no place without [the land of Judaea]. And besides this, the law commanded them to offer whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices, there being no other altar than that in Jerusalem. For on this account, in that city alone was there an attar and temple built, and in no other city were they permitted to perform these rites, so that when that city should come to an end, then those things that were figurative might also be done away.

8. Now observe; that city, since the coming of our Savior, has had an end, and all the land of the Jews has been laid waste; so that from the testimony of these things (and we need' no further proof, being assured by our own eyes of the fact) there must, of necessity, be an end of the shadow. And not from me should these things be learned, but the sacred voice of the prophet foretold, crying; 'Behold upon the mountains the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, and publisheth peace[4];' and what is the message he published, but that which he goes on to say to them, 'Keep thy feasts, O Judah; pay to the Lord thy vows. For they shall no more go to that which is old; it is finished; it is taken away: He is gone up who breathed upon the face, and delivered thee from affliction[5].' Now who is he that went up? a man may say to the Jews, in order that even the boast of the shadow may be done away; neither is it an idle thing to listen to the expression, 'It is finished; he is gone up who breathed.' For nothing was finished before he went up who breathed. But as soon as he went up, it was finished. Who was he then, O Jews, as I said before? If Moses, the assertion would be false; for the people were not yet come to the land in which alone they were commanded to perform these rites. But if Samuel, or any other of the prophets, even in that case there would be a perversion of the truth; for hitherto these things were done in Jud'a, and the city was standing. For it was necessary that while that stood, these things should be performed. So that it was none of these, my beloved, who went up. But if thou wouldest hear the true matter, and be kept from Jewish fables, behold our Saviour who went up, and 'breathed upon the face, and said to His disciples, Receive ye the Holy Ghost[6],' For as soon as these things were done, everything was finished, for the altar was broken, and the veil of the temple was rent; and although the city was not yet laid waste, the abomination was ready to sit in the midst of the temple, and the city and those ancient ordinances to receive their final consummation.

9. Since then we have passed beyond that time of shadows, and no longer perform rites under it, but have turned, as it were, unto the Lord; 'for the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty[7];'--as we hear the sacred trumpet, no longer slaying a material lamb, but that true Lamb that was slain, even our Lord Jesus Christ; 'Who was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and was dumb as a lamb before her shearers[8];' being purified by His precious blood, which speaketh better things than that of Abel, having our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel, holding in our hands the rod and staff of the Lord, by which that saint was comforted, who said[9], 'Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me;' and to sum up, being in all respects prepared, and careful for nothing, because, as the blessed Paul saith, 'The Lord is at hand[10];' and as our Saviour saith, 'In an hour when we think not, the Lord cometh;--Let us keep the Feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Putting off the old man and his deeds, let us put on the new man[11], which is created in God,' in humbleness of mind, and a pure conscience; in meditation of the law by night and by day. And casting away all hypocrisy and fraud, putting far from us all pride and deceit, let us take upon us love towards God and towards our neighbour, that being new [creatures], and receiving the new wine, even the Holy Spirit, we may properly keep the feast, even the month of these new [fruits][12].

10. We[13] begin the holy fast on the fifth day of Pharmuthi (March 31), and adding to it according to the number of those six holy and great days, which are the symbol of the creation of this world, let us rest and cease (from fasting) on the tenth day of the same Pharmuthi (April 5), on the holy sabbath of the week. And when the first day of the holy week dawns and rises upon us, on the eleventh day. of the same month (April 6), from which again we count all the seven weeks one by one, let us keep feast on the holy day of Pentecost--on that which was at one time to the Jews, typically, the feast of weeks, in which they granted forgiveness and settlement of debts; and indeed that day was one of deliverance in every respect. Let us keep the feast on the first day of the great week, as a symbol of the world to come, in which we here receive a pledge that we shall have everlasting life hereafter. Then having passed hence, we shall keep a perfect feast with Christ, while we cry out and say, like the saints, 'I will pass to the place of the wondrous tabernacle, to the house of God; with the voice of gladness and thanksgiving, the shouting of those who rejoice[14];' whence pain and sorrow and sighing have fled, and upon our heads gladness and joy shall have come to us! May we be judged worthy to be partakers in these things.

11. Let us remember the poor, and not forget kindness to strangers; above all, let us love God with all our soul, and might, and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves. So may we receive those things which the eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, which, God hath prepared for those that love Him[15], through His only Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; through Whom, to the Father alone, by the Holy Ghost, be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Salute one another with a kiss. All the brethren who are with me salute you.

Here endeth the first Festal Letter of holy Athanasius.

LETTER II. For 330.

Easter-day xxiv Pharmuthi; xiii Kal. Mai; 'ra Dioclet. 46; Coss. Gallicianus, Valerius Symmachus; Proefect, Magninianus; Indict. iii.

AGAIN, my brethren, is Easter come and gladness; again the Lord hath brought us to this season; so that when, according to custom, we have been nourished with His words, we may duly keep the feast. Let us celebrate it then, even heavenly joy, with those saints who formerly proclaimed a like feast, and were ensamples to us of conversation in Christ. For not only were they entrusted with the charge of preaching the Gospel, but, if we enquire, we shall see, as it is written, that its power was displayed in them. 'Be ye therefore followers of me[1],' he wrote to the Corinthians. Now the apostolic precept exhorts us all, for those commands which he sent to individuals, he at the same time enjoined upon every man in every place, for he was 'a teacher of all nations in faith and truth[2].' And, generally, the commands of all the saints urge us on similarly, as Solomon makes use of proverbs, saying, 'Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding; for I give you a good gift, forsake ye not my word: for I was an obedient son to my father, and beloved in the sight of my mother[3].' For a just father brings up [his children] well, when he is diligent in teaching others in accordance with his own upright conduct, so that when he meets with opposition, he may not be ashamed on hearing it said, 'Thou therefore that teachest others, teachest thou not thyself[4]?' but rather, like the good servant, may both save himself and gain others; and thus, when the grace committed to him has been doubled, he may hear, 'Thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful in a little, I will set thee over much: enter into the joy of thy Lord[5].'

2. Let us[6] then, as is becoming, as at all times, yet especially in the days of the feast, be not hearers only, but doers of the commandments of our Saviour; that having imitated the behaviour of the saints, we may enter together into the joy of our Lord which is in heaven, which is not transitory, but truly abides; of which evil doers having deprived themselves, there remains to them as the fruit of their ways, sorrow and affliction, and groaning with torments. Let a man see what these become like, that they bear not the likeness[7] of the con versation of the saints, nor of that right understanding, by which man at the beginning was rational, and in the image of God. But they are compared to their disgrace to beasts without understanding, and becoming like them in unlawful pleasures, they are spoken of as wanton horses[7a]; also, for their craftiness, and errors, and sin laden with death, they are called a 'generation of vipers,' as John saith[8]. Now having thus fallen, and grovelling in the dust like the serpent[9], having their minds set on nothing beyond visible things, they esteem these things good, and rejoicing in them, serve their own lusts and not God.

3. Yet even in this state, the man-loving Word, who came for this very reason, that He might seek and find that which was lost, sought to restrain them from such folly, crying and saying, 'Be ye not as the horse and the mule which have no understanding, whose cheeks ye hold in with bit and bridle[10].' Because they were careless and imitated the wicked, the prophet prays in spirit and says, 'Ye are to me like merchant-men of Phoenicia[11].'' And the avenging Spirit protests against them in these words, 'Lord, in Thy city Thou wilt despise their image[12].' Thus, being changed into the likeness of fools, they fell so low in their understanding, that by their excessive reasoning, they even likened the Divine Wisdom to themselves, thinking it to be like their own arts. Therefore, 'professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the corruptible image of man, and birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient[13].' For they did not listen to the prophetic voice that reproved them (saying), 'To what have ye likened the Lord, and with what have ye compared Him[14]?' neither to David, who prayed concerning such as these, and sang, 'All those that make them are like unto them, and all those who put their trust in them[15].' Being blind to the truth they looked upon a stone as God, and hence like senseless creatures, they walked in darkness, and, as the prophet cried, 'They hear indeed, but they do not understand; they see indeed, but they do not perceive; for their heart is waxen fat, and with their ears they hear heavily[16].'

4. Now those who do not observe the feast, continue such as these even to the present day, feigning indeed and devising names of feasts[17], but rather introducing days of mourning than of gladness; 'For there is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord[1].' And as Wisdom saith, 'Gladness and joy are taken from their mouth[2].' Such are the feasts of the wicked. But the wise servants of the Lord, who have truly put on the man which is created in God[3], have received gospel words, and reckon as a general commandment that given to Timothy, which saith, 'Be thou an example to the believers in word, in conversation, in love, in faith, in purity[4].' So well do they keep the Feast, that even the unbelievers, seeing their order[5], may say, 'God is with them of a truth[6].' For as he who receives an apostle receives Him who sent him[6a], so he who is a follower of the saints, makes the Lord in every respect his end and aim, even as Paul, being a follower of Him, goes on to say, 'As I also of Christ[7].' For there were first our Saviour's own words, who from the height of His divinity, when conversing with His disciples, said, 'Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls[8].' Then too when He poured water into a basin, and girded HimseIf with a towel, and washed His disciples' feet, He said to them, 'Know what I have done. Ye call Me Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am. If therefore I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet: for I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, ye also should do[9].'

5. Oh! my brethren, how shall we admire the loving-kindness of the Saviour? With what power, and with what a trumpet should a man cry out, exalting these His benefits! That not only should we bear His image, but should receive from Him an example and pattern of heavenly conversation; that as He hath begun, we should go on, that suffering, we should not threaten, being reviled, we should not revile again, but should bless them that curse, and in everything commit ourselves to God who judgeth righteously[10]. For those who are thus disposed, and fashion themselves according to the Gospel, will be partakers of Christ, and imitators of apostolic conversation, on account of which they shall be deemed worthy of that praise from him, with which he praised the Corinthians, when he said, 'I praise you that in everything ye are mindful of me[11].' Afterwards, because there were men who used his words, but chose to hear them as suited their lusts, and dared to pervert them, as the followers of Hymen'us and Alexander, and before them the Sadducees, who as he said, 'having made shipwreck of faith,' scoffed at the mystery of the resurrection, he immediately proceeded to say, 'And as I have delivered to you traditions, hold them fast[12].' That means, indeed, that we should think not otherwise than as the teacher has delivered.

6. For not only in outward form did those wicked men dissemble, putting on as the Lord says sheep's clothing, and appearing like unto whited sepulchres; but they took those divine words in their mouth, while they inwardly cherished evil intentions. And the first to put on this appearance was the serpent, the inventor of wickedness from the beginning--the devil,--who, in disguise, conversed with Eve, and forthwith deceived her. But after him and with him are all inventors of unlawful heresies, who indeed refer to the Scriptures, but do not hold such opinions as the saints have handed down, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err, because they do not rightly know them nor their[13] power. Therefore Paul justly praises the Corinthians[11], because their opinions were in accordance with his traditions. And the Lord most righteously reproved the Jews, saying, 'Wherefore do ye also transgress the commandments of God on account of your traditions[14].' For they changed the commandments they received from God after their own understanding, preferring to observe the traditions of men. And about these, a little after, the blessed Paul again gave directions to the Galatians who were in danger thereof, writing to them, 'If any man preach to you aught else than that ye have received, let him be accursed[15].'

7. For there is no fellowship whatever between the words of the saints and the fancies of human invention; for the saints are the ministers of the truth, preaching the kingdom of heaven, but those who are borne in the opposite direction have nothing better than to eat, and think their end is that they shall cease to be, and they say, 'Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die[16].' Therefore blessed Luke reproves the inventions of men, and hands down the narrations of the saints, saying in the beginning of the Gospel, 'Since many have presumed to write narrations of those events of which we are assured, as those who from the beginning were witnesses and ministers of the Word have delivered to us; it hath seemed good to me also, who have adhered to them all from the first, to write correctly in order to thee, O excellent Theophilus, that thou mayest know the truth concerning the things in which thou hast been instructed[17].' For as each of the saints has received, that they impart without alteration, for the confirmation of the doctrine of the mysteries. Of these the (divine) word would have us disciples, and these should of right be our teachers, and to them only is it necessary to give heed, for of them only is 'the word faithful and worthy of all acceptation[18];' these not being disciples because they heard from others, but being eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word, that which they had heard from Him have they handed down.

Now some have related the wonderful signs performed by our Saviour, and preached His eternal Godhead. And others have written of His being born in the flesh of the Virgin, and have proclaimed the festival of the holy passover, saying, 'Christ our Passover is sacrificed[19];' so that we, individually and collectively, and all the churches in the world may remember, as it is written, 'That Christ rose from the dead, of the seed of David, according to the Gospel[20].' And let us not forget that which Paul delivered, declaring it to the Corinthians; I mean His resurrection, whereby 'He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil[1];' and raised us up together with Him, having loosed the bands of death, and vouchsafed a blessing instead of a curse, joy instead of grief, a feast instead of mourning, in this holy joy of Easter, which being continually in our hearts, we always rejoice, as Paul commanded; 'We pray without ceasing; in everything we give thanks[2].' So we are not remiss in giving notice of its seasons, as we have received from the Fathers. Again we write, again keeping to the apostolic traditions, we remind each other when we come together for prayer; and keeping the feast in common, with one mouth we truly give thanks to the Lord. Thus giving thanks unto Him, and being followers of the saints, 'we shall make our praise in the Lord all the day[3],' as the Psalmist says. So, when we rightly keep the feast, we shall be counted worthy of that joy which is in heaven.

8. We begin the fast of forty days on the 13th of the month Phamenoth (Mar. 9). After we have given ourselves to fasting in continued succession, let us begin the holy Paschal[5] week on the 18th of the month Pharmuthi (April 13). Then resting on the 23rd of the same month Pharmuthi (April 18), and keeping the feast afterwards on the first of the week, on the 24th (April 19), let us add to these the seven weeks of the great Pentecost, wholly rejoicing and exulting in Christ Jesus our Lord, through Whom to the Father be glory and dominion in the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.

The brethren which are with me salute you. Salute one another with a holy kiss[6].

Here endeth the second Festal Letter of the holy lord Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.

LETTER III. For 331.

Easter-day xvi Pharmuthi ; iii Id. April ; 'ra Dioclet. 47; Coss. Annius Bassus, Ablabius; Proefect, Florentius; India. iv.

AGAIN, my beloved brethren, the day of the feast draws near to us, which, above all others, should be devoted to prayer, which the law commands to be observed, and which it would be an unholy thing for us to pass. over in silence. For although we have been held under restraint by those who afflict us, that, because of them, we should not announce to you this season; yet thanks be to 'God, who comforteth the afflicted[1],' that we have not been overcome by the wickedness of our accusers and silenced; but obeying the voice of truth, we together with you cry aloud in the day of the feast. For the God of all hath commanded, saying, 'Speak[2], and the children of Israel shall keep the Passover.' And the Spirit exhorts in the Psalm; 'Blow the trumpet in the new moons[3], in the solemn day of your feast.' And the prophet cries; 'Keep thy feasts, O Judah[4].' I do not send word to you as though you were ignorant; but I publish it to those who know it, that ye may perceive that although men have separated us, yet God having made us companions, we approach the same feast, and worship the same Lord continually, And we do not keep the festival as observers of days, knowing that the Apostle reproves those who do so, in those words which he spake; 'Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years[5].' But rather do we consider the day solemn because of the feast; so that all of us, who serve God in every place, may together in our prayers be well-pleasing to God. For the blessed Paul, announcing the nearness of gladness like this, did not announce days, but the Lord, for whose sake we keep the feast, saying, 'Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed[6];' so that we all, contemplating the eternity of the Word, may draw near to do Him service.

2. For what else is the feast, but the service of the soul? And what is that service, but prolonged prayer to God, and unceasing thanksgiving[7]? The unthankful departing far from these are rightly deprived of the joy springing therefrom: for 'joy and gladness are taken from their mouth[8].' Therefore, the [divine] word doth not allow them to have peace; 'For there is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord[9],' they labour in pain and grief. So, not even to him who owed ten thousand talents did the Gospel grant forgiveness in the sight of the Lord[10]. For even he, having received forgiveness of great things, was forgetful of kindness in little ones, so that he paid the penalty also of those former things. And justly indeed, for having himself experienced kindness, he was required to be merciful to his fellow servant. He too that received the one talent, and bound it up in a napkin, and hid it in the earth, was in consequence cast out for unthankfulness, hearing the words, 'Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed; thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and on my return, I should have received mine own. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents[11].' For, of course, when he was required to deliver up to his lord that which belonged to him, he should have acknowledged the kindness of him who gave it, and the value of that which was given. For he who gave was not a hard man, had he been so, he would not have given even in the first instance; neither was that which was given unprofitable and vain, for then he had not found fault. But both he who gave was good, and that which was given was capable of bearing fruit. As therefore 'he who withholdeth corn in seed-time is cursed[12],' according to the divine proverb, so he who neglects grace, and hides it without culture, is properly cast out as a wicked and unthankful person. On this account, he praises those who increased [their talents], saying, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful in a little, I will place thee over much; enter into the joy of thy Lord[13].'

3. This was right and reasonable; for, as the Scripture declares, they had gained as much as they had received. Now, my beloved, our will ought to keep pace with the grace of God, and not fall short; lest while our will remains idle, the grace given us should begin to depart, and the enemy finding us empty and naked, should enter [into us], as was the case with him spoken of in the Gospel. from whom the devil went out; 'for having gone through dry places, he took seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and returning and finding the house empty, he dwelt there, and the last state of that man was worse than the first[14].' For the departure from virtue gives place for the entrance of the unclean spirit There is, moreover, the apostolic injunction, that the grace given us should not be unprofitable; for those things which he wrote particularly to his disciple, he enforces on us through him[15], saying, 'Neglect not the gift that is in thee. For he who tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread; but the paths of the slothful are strewn with thorns;' so that the Spirit forewarns a man not to fall into them, saying, 'Break up your fallow ground, sow not among thorns[16].' For when a man despises the grace given him; and forth-with falls into the cares of the world, he delivers himself over to his lusts; and thus in the time of persecution he is offended[17], and becomes altogether unfruitful. Now the prophet points out the end of such negligence, saying, 'Cursed is he who doeth the work of the Lord carelessly[18].' For a servant of the Lord should be diligent and careful, yea, moreover, burning like a flame, so that when, by an ardent spirit, he has destroyed all carnal sin, he may be able to draw near to God who, according to the expression of the saints is called 'a consuming fire[19].'

4. Therefore, the God of all, 'Who maketh His angels [spirits],' is a spirit, 'and His ministers a flame of fire[1].' Wherefore, in the departure from Egypt, He forbade the multitude to touch the mountain, where God was appointing them the law, because they were not of this character. But He called blessed Moses to it, as being fervent in spirit, and possessing unquenchable grace, saying, 'Let Moses alone draw near[2].' He entered into the cloud also, and when the mountain was smoking, he was not injured; but rather through 'the words of the Lord, which are choice silver purified in the earth[3],' he descended purified. Therefore the blessed Paul when desirous that the grace of the Spirit given to us should not grow cold, exhorts, saying, 'Quench not the Spirit[4].' For so shall we remain partakers of Christ[5], if we hold fast to the end the Spirit given at the beginning. For he said, 'Quench not;' not because the Spirit is placed in the power of men, and is able to suffer anything from them; but because bad and unthankful men are such as manifestly wish to quench it, since they, like the impure, persecute the Spirit with unholy deeds. 'For the holy Spirit of discipline will flee deceit, nor dwell in a body that is subject unto sin; but will remove from thoughts that are without understanding[6].' Now they being without understanding, and deceitful, and lovers of sin, walk still as in darkness, not having that 'Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the worlds[7].' Now a fire such as this laid hold of Jeremiah the prophet, when the word was in him as a fire, and he said, 'I pass away from every place, and am not able to endure its.[8].' And our Lord Jesus Christ, being good and a lover of men, came that He might east this upon earth, and said, 'And what? would that it were already kindled[9]!' For He desired, as He testified in Ezekiel[10], the repentance of a man rather than his death: so that evil should be entirely consumed in all men, that the soul, being purified, might be able to bring forth fruit; for the word which is sown by Him will be productive, some thirty, some sixty, some an hundred[11]. Thus, for instance, those who were with Cleopas[12], although infirm at first from lack of knowledge, yet afterwards were inflamed with the words of the Saviour, and brought forth the fruits of the knowledge of Him. The blessed Paul also, when seized by this fire, revealed it not to flesh and blood, but having experienced the grace, he became a preacher of the Word. But not such were those nine lepers who were cleansed from their leprosy, and yet were unthankful to the Lord who healed them; nor Judas, who obtained the lot of an apostle, and was named a disciple of the Lord, but at last, 'while eating bread with the Saviour, lifted up his heel against Him, and became a traitor[13].' But such men have the due reward of their folly, since their expectation will be vain through their ingratitude; for there is no hope for the ungrateful, the last fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, awaits those who have neglected divine light. Such then is the end of the unthankful.

5. 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[14]. 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[15].' And the blessed Paul, in all his Epistles, so to say, ceased not to thank God. In times of ease, he failed not, and in afflictions he gloried, knowing that 'tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and that hope maketh not ashamed[16].' 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 Thee(17).' For as the Jews at that time, although suffering an assault from the tabernacles(17a) 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(17b), 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(18).' And being desirous that we should always continue in this resolution, he says, 'At all times give thanks; pray without ceasing(19).' 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 Thee will we pierce through our enemies, and by my God I will leap over a walls 20.' 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),' 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(2).' 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(3), let us keep the feast as Paul saith, 'Not with the old leaven, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth(4);' 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(5).' 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.

6. The beginning of the fast of forty days is on the fifth of Phamenoth (Mar. 1); and when, as I have said, we have first been purified and prepared by those days, we begin the holy week of the great Easter on the tenth of Pharmuthi (Apr. 5), in which, my beloved brethren, we should use more prolonged prayers, and fastings, and watchings, that we may be enabled to anoint our lintels with precious blood, and to escape the destroyer(6). Let us rest then, on the fifteenth of the month Pharmuthi (Apr. 10), for on the evening of that Saturday we hear the angels' message, 'Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is risen(7).' Immediately afterwards that great Sunday receives us, I mean on the sixteenth of the same month Pharmuthi (April 11), on which our Lord having risen, gave us peace towards our neighbours. When then we have kept the feast according to His will, let us add from that first day in the holy week, the seven weeks of Pentecost, and as we then receive the grace of the Spirit, let us at all times give thanks to the Lord; through Whom to the Father be glory and dominion, in the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.

Salute one another with a holy kiss. The brethren who are with me salute you. I pray, brethren beloved and longed for, that ye may have health, and that ye may be mindful of us in the Lord.

Here endeth the third Festal Letter of holy Athanasius.

LETTER IV. For 332.

Easter-day vii Pharmuthi(1), iv Non. Apr.; AEra Dioclet. 48; Coss. Fabius Pacatianus, Maecilius Hilarianus; Praefect, Hyginus(2); Indict. v. He sent this Letter from the Emperor's Court by a soldier(3).

I SEND unto you, my beloved, late and beyond he accustomed time(4); yet I trust you will forgive the delay, on account of my protracted journey, and because I have been tried with illness. Being hindered by these two causes, and unusually severe storms having occurred, I have deferred writing to you. But notwithstanding my long journeys, and my grievous sickness, I have not forgotten to give you the festal notification, and, in discharge of my duty I now announce to you the feast. For although the date of this letter is later(4a) than that usual for this announcement, it should still be considered well-timed, since our enemies having been put to shame and reproved by the Church, because they persecuted us without a cause(5), we may now sing a festal song of praise, uttering the triumphant hymn against Pharaoh; 'We will sing unto the Lord, for He is to be gloriously praised; the horse and his rider He hath cast into the sea(6).'

2. It is well, my beloved, to proceed from feast to feast; again festal meetings, again holy vigils arouse our minds, and compel our intellect to keep vigil unto contemplation of good things. Let us not fulfil these days like those that mourn but, by enjoying spiritual food, let us seek to silence our fleshly lusts(7). For by these means we shall have strength to overcome our adversaries, like blessed Judith(8), when having first exercised herself in fastings and prayers, she overcame the enemies, and killed Olophernes. And blessed Esther, when destruction was about to come on all her race, and the nation of Israel was ready to perish, defeated the fury of the tyrant by no other means than by fasting and prayer to God, and changed the ruin of her people into safety(9). Now as those days are considered feasts for Israel, so also in old time feasts were appointed when an enemy was slain, or a conspiracy against the people broken up, and Israel delivered. Therefore blessed Moses of old time ordained the great feast of the Passover, and our celebration of it, because, namely, Pharaoh was killed, and the people were delivered from bondage. For in those times it was especially, when those who tyrannized over the people had been slain, that temporal feasts and holidays were observed in Judaea(10).

3. Now, however, that the devil, that tyrant against the whole world, is slain, we do not approach a temporal feast, my beloved, but an eternal and heavenly. Not in shadows do we shew it forth, but we come to it in truth. For they being filled with the flesh of a dumb lamb, accomplished the feast, and having anointed their door-posts with the blood, implored aid against the destroyer(11). But now we, eating of the Word of the Father, and having the lintels of our hearts sealed with the blood of the New Testament(12), acknowledge the grace given us from the Saviour, who said, 'Behold, I have given unto you to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy(13).' For no more does death reign; but instead of death henceforth is life, since our Lord said, 'I am the life(14);' so that everything is filled with joy and gladness; as it is written, 'The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.' For when death reigned, 'sitting down by the rivers of Babylon, we wept(15),' and mourned, because we felt the bitterness of captivity; but now that death and the kingdom of the devil is abolished, everything is entirely filled with joy and gladness. And God is no longer known only in Judaea, but in all the earth, 'their voice hath gone forth, and the knowledge of Him hath filled all the earth(16).' What follows, my beloved, is obvious; that we should approach such a feast, not with filthy raiment, but having clothed our minds with pure garments. For we need in this to put on our Lord Jesus(17), that we may be able to celebrate the feast with Him. Now we are clothed with Him when we love virtue, and are enemies to wickedness, when we exercise ourselves in temperance and mortify lasciviousness, when we love righteousness before iniquity, when we honour sufficiency, and have strength of mind, when we do not forget the poor, but open our doors to all men, when we assist humble-mindedness, but hate pride.

4. By these things Israel of old, having first, as in a figure, striven for the victory, came to the feast, for these things were then fore-shadowed and typified. But we, my beloved, the shadow having received its fulfilment, and the types being accomplished, should no longer consider the feast typical, neither should we go up to Jerusalem which is here below, to sacrifice the Passover, according to the unseasonable observance of the Jews, lest, while the season passes away, we should be regarded as acting unseasonably(18) ; but, in accordance with the injunction of the Apostles, let us go beyond the types, and sing the new song of praise. For perceiving this, and being assembled together with the Truth(19), they drew near, and said unto our Saviour, 'Where wilt Thou that we should make ready for Thee the Passover(1)?' For no longer were these things to be done which belonged to Jerusalem which is beneath; neither there alone was the feast to be celebrated, but wherever God willed it to be. Now He willed it to be in every place, so that 'in every place incense and a sacrifice might be offered to Him(2).' For although, as in the historical account, in no other place might the feast of the Passover be kept save only in Jerusalem, yet when the things pertaining to that time were fulfilled, and those which l belonged to shadows had passed away, and the preaching of the Gospel was about to extend everywhere; when indeed the disciples were spreading the feast in all places, they asked the Saviour, 'Where wilt Thou that we shall make, ready?' The Saviour also, since He was changing the typical for the spiritual, promised them that they should no longer eat the flesh of a lamb, but His own, saying, 'Take, eat and drink; this is My body, and My blood(3).' When we are thus nourished by these things, we also, my beloved, shall truly keep the feast of the Passover.

5. We begin on the first of Pharmuthi (Mar. 27), and rest on the sixth of the same month (Apr. 1), on the evening of the seventh day; and the holy first day of the week having risen upon us on the seventh of the same Pharmuthi (Apr. 2), celebrate we too the days of holy Pentecost following thereon, shewing forth through them the world to come(4), so that henceforth we may be with Christ for ever, praising God over all in Christ Jesus, and through Him, with all saints, we say unto the Lord, Amen. Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the brethren who are with me salute you. We have sent this letter from the Court, by the hand of an attendant officer(5), to whom it was given by Ablavius(6), the Praefect of the Praetorium, who fears God in truth. For I am at the Court, having been summoned by the emperor Constantine to see him. But the Meletians, who were present there, being envious, sought our ruin before the Emperor. But they were put to shame and driven away thence as calumniators, being confuted by many things. Those who were driven away were Callinicus, Ision, Eudaemon, and Geloeus(7) Hieracammon, who, on account of the shame of his name, calls himself logius.

Here endeth the fourth Festal Letter of holy Athanasius.

LETTER V. For 333.

Easter-day(1), Coss. Dalmatius and Zenophilus, Praefect, Paternus(2) ; vi Indict.; xvii Maii, xx Pharmuthi; xv Moon; vii Gods; AEra Dioclet. 49.

WE duly proceed, my brethren, from feasts to feasts, duly from prayers to prayers, we advance from fasts to fasts, and join holy-days to holy-days. Again the time has arrived which brings to us a new beginning(3), even the announcement of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed. We eat, as it were, the food of life, and constantly thirsting we delight our souls at all times, as from a fountain, in His precious blood. For we continually and ardently desire; He stands ready for those who thirst; and for those who thirst there is the word of our Saviour, which, in His loving-kindness, He uttered on the day of the feast; 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink(4).' Nor was it then alone when any one drew near to Him, that He cured his thirst; but whenever any one seeks, there is free access for him to the Saviour. For the grace of the feast is not limited to one time, nor does its splendid brilliancy decline; but it is always near, enlightening the minds of those who earnestly desire it(5). For therein is constant virtue, for those who are illuminated in their minds, and me-dilate on the divine Scriptures day and night, like the man to whom a blessing is given, as it is written in the sacred Psalms; 'Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of corrupters. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night(6).' For it is not the sun, or the moon, or the host of those other stars which illumines him, but he glitters with the high effulgence of God over all.

2. For it is God, my beloved, even the God Who at first established the feast for us, Who vouchsafes the celebration of it year by year. He both brought about the slaying of His Son for salvation, and gave us this reason for the holy feast, to which every year bears witness, as often as at this season the feast is proclaimed. This also leads us on from the cross through this world to that which is before us, and God produces even now from it the joy of glorious salvation, bringing us to the same assembly, and in every place uniting all of us in spirit; appointing us common prayers, and a common grace proceeding from the feast. For this is the marvel of His loving-kindness, that He should gather together in the same place those who are at a distance; and make those who appear to be far off in the body, to be near together in unity of spirit.

3. Wherefore then, my beloved, do we not acknowledge the grace as becometh the feast? Wherefore do we not make a return to our Benefactor? It is indeed impossible to make an adequate return to God; still, it is a wicked thing for us who receive the gracious gift, not to acknowledge it. Nature itself manifests our inability; but our own will reproves our un-thankfulness. Therefore the blessed Paul when admiring the greatness of the gift of God, said, 'And who is sufficient for these things(7)?, For He made the world free by the blood of the Saviour; then, again, He has caused the grave to be trodden down by the Saviour's death, and furnished a way to the heavenly gates free from obstacles to those who are going up(8). Wherefore, one of the saints, while he acknowledged the grace, but was insufficient to repay it, said, 'What shall I render unto the Lord for all He has done unto me(9)?' For instead of death he had received life, instead of bondage(10), freedom, and instead of the grave, the kingdom of heaven. For of old time, 'death reigned from Adam to Moses;' but now the divine voice hath said, 'To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.' And the saints, being sensible of this, said, 'Except the Lord had helped me, my soul had almost dwelt in hell.(10a).' Besides all this, being powerless to make a return, he yet acknowledged the gift, and wrote finally, saying, 'I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord; precious in His sight is the death of His saints(11).'

With regard to the cup, the Lord said, 'Are ye able to drink of that cup which I am about to drink of?' And when the disciples assented, the Lord said, 'Ye shall indeed drink of My cup; but that ye should sit on My right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give; but to those for whom it is prepared(12).' Therefore, my beloved, let us be sensible of the gift, though we are found insufficient to repay it. As we have ability, let us meet the occasion. For although nature is not able, with things unworthy of the Word, to return a recompense for such benefits, yet let us render Him thanks while we persevere in piety. And how can we more abide in piety than when we acknowledge God, Who in His love to mankind has bestowed on us such benefits? (For thus we shall obediently keep the law, and observe its commandments. And, further, we shall not, as unthankful persons, be accounted transgressors of the law, or do those things which ought to be hated, for the Lord loveth the thankful); when too we offer ourselves to the Lord, like the saints, when we subscribe ourselves entirely [as] living henceforth not to ourselves, but to the Lord Who died for us, as also the blessed Paul did, when he said, 'I am crucified with Christ, yet I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me(13).'

4. Now our life, my brethren, truly consists in our denying all bodily things, and continuing stedfast in those only of our Saviour. Therefore the present season requires of us, that we should not only utter such words, but should also imitate the deeds of the saints. But we imitate them, when we acknowledge Him who died, and no longer live unto ourselves, but Christ henceforth lives in us; when we render a recompense to the Lord to the utmost of our power, though when we make a return we give nothing of our own, but those things which we have before received from Him, this being especially of His grace, that He should require, as from us, His own gifts. He bears witness to this when He says, 'My offerings are My own gifts(14).' That is, those things which you give Me are yours, as having received them from Me, but they are the gifts of God. And let us offer to the Lord every virtue, and that true holiness which is in Him, and in piety let us keep the feast to Him with those things which He has hallowed for us. Let us thus engage in the holy fasts, as having been prescribed by Him, and by means of which we find the way to God. But let us not be like the heathen, or the ignorant Jews, or as the heretics and schismatics of the present time. For the heathen think the accomplishment of the feast is in the abundance of food; the Jews, erring in the type and shadow, think it still such; the schismatics keep it in separate places, and with vain imaginations. But let us, my brethren, be superior to the heathen, in keeping the feast with sincerity of soul, and purity of body; to the Jews, in no longer receiving the type and the shadow, but as having been gloriously illumined with the light of truth, and as looking upon the Sun of Righteousness 15; to the schismatics, in not rending the coat of Christ, but in one house, even in the Catholic Church, let us eat the Passover of the Lord, Who, by ordaining His holy laws, guided us towards virtue, and counselled the abstinence of this feast. For the Passover is indeed abstinence from evil for exercise of virtue, and a departure from death unto life. This may be learnt even from the type of old time. For then they toiled earnestly to pass from Egypt to Jerusalem, but now we depart from death to life; they then passed from Pharaoh to Moses, but now we rise from the devil to the Saviour. And as, at that time, the type of deliverance bore witness every year, so now we commemorate our salvation. We fast meditating on death, that we may be able to live; and we watch, not as mourners, but as they that wait for the Lord, when He shall have returned from the wedding, so that we may vie with each other in the triumph, hastening to announce the sign of victory over death.

5. Would therefore, O my beloved, that as the word requires, we might here so govern ourselves at all times and entirely, and so live, as never to forget the noble acts of God, nor to depart from the practice of virtue! As also the Apostolic voice exhorts; 'Remember Jesus Christ, that He rose from the dead(16).' Not that any limited season of remembrance was appointed, for at all times He should be in our thoughts. But because of the slothfulness of many, we delay from day to day. Let us then begin in these days. To this end a time of remembrance is permitted, that it may show forth to the saints the reward of their calling, and may exhort the careless while reproving them(17). Therefore in all the remaining days, let us persevere in virtuous conduct, repenting as is our duty, of all that we have neglected, whatever it may be; for there is no one free from defilement, though his course may have been but one hour on the earth, as Job, that man of surpassing fortitude, testifies. But, 'stretching forth to those things that are to come(18),' let us pray that we may not eat the Passover unworthily, lest we be exposed to dangers. For to those who keep the feast in purity, the Passover is heavenly food; but to those who observe it profanely and contemptuously, it is a danger and reproach. For it is written, 'Whosoever shall eat and drink unworthily, is guilty of the death of our Lord(19).' Wherefore, let us not merely proceed to perform the festal rites, but let us be prepared to draw near to the divine Lamb, and to touch heavenly food. Let us cleanse our hands, let us purify the body. Let us keep our whole mind from guile; not giving up ourselves to excess, and to lusts, but occupying ourselves entirely with our Lord, and with divine doctrines; so that, being altogether pure, we may be able to partake of the Word(20)

6. We begin the holy fast on the fourteenth of Pharmuthi (Apr. 9), on the [first] evening of the weeks'; and having ceased on the nineteenth of the same month Pharmuthi (Apr 14), the first day of the holy week dawns upon us on the twentieth of the same month Pharmuthi (Apt. 15), to which we join the seven weeks of Pentecost; with prayers, and fellowship with our neighbour, and love towards one another, and that peaceable will which is above all. For so shall we be heirs of the kingdom of heaven, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom to the Father be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. All the brethren who are with me salute you. Salute one another with a holy kiss.

Here endeth the fifth Festal Letter of holy Athanasius.

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