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October 23, 1987     The Message
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October 23, 1987

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4 Page 4 Faith Today "The more deeply /,,'! one penetrates the /divine mystery, the 7 more one discovers the true greatness and dignity , of human beings." (Pope / John Paul II in the United  States, 1987) " When people tell you what \\; they believe, you catch a . glimpse of who they are or at least who they intend to be. For what people say they believe of- fers a clue to the direction their lives will go. Parents who say they believe that education is the key to a child's future can be expected not ON PILGRIMAGE only to give close attention to matters of schooling, but to invest time and money in the child's educational pursuits. In some cases, parents become virtually consumed by this concern for their child's education. Not only their thoughts and words, but their activities reveal that they tru- ly believe in education. Some people believe that money paves the road to happiness...that success is defined by "getting to the top"...that exercise is the best antidote for stress...or that life can be lengthened with the proper diet. Again, the proof is in the pudding. These are the sorts of beliefs that lead people to definite actions -- to hard work or even workaholism, to hardy exercise almost daily or to shopping carefully for andpreparing just the right foods. True belief, you see, is more than words. It reaches deep inside people and influences their ac- tions. What people believe can be. seen in the commitments they make. Among Christians, it is not unusual to speak of "having" belief or "having" faith. The risk some theologians see in speaking this way is that belief begins to sound like a possession, "some thing" one obtains. What is need- ed, they suggest, is to see how belief is related to who one "is" and what one does. Presupposed here is that what is believed  who you believe in -- has the capacity to change you. Presupposed, for example, is that the story of Jesus recalled in the church's creed -- that he suffered, died and was buried, that he rose again from the dead -- is the story of someone who makes life different. This is what the creed is about ultimately. It is about the sort of belief that reaches deep inside people, uncovering their "true greatness and dignity," as Pope John Paul II suggests. Christians always have felt that this belief, given voice in words, is meant to be heard -- and to be seen. .,ooo,o,o,o,o,o,o,o,o,o,o.o.o,o.o,o.o.o, CHILDREN'S PLACE*"'''""'"'"'"'"'""'"'"'''""-- W Athanasius said about God and Jesus By Janaan Manternach NC News Service e believe .... " That's how the creed that Catholics recite together every week during Mass begins. This creed is very old. It is called the Nicene Creed because most of it was agreed upon in Nicaea, an ancient city in what is now Turkey. That was back in the year 325. It was a time of great confusion and division in the church. Arius, a very influential priest, was teaching that Jesus Christ basically was just a great and good man. Many people, including bishops, agreed with Arius. Others disagreed strongly. They insisted that Jesus was fully divine too. They said Jesus was both God and man. Christians argued about this not just in schools but on the street comers. Things got so bad, with bishops arguing with one another and with their priests and people, that the emperor stepped in. He called the more important bishops of the world together at Nicaea to find a way to end the .confusion and restore unity. A young man, a deacon named Athanasius, was there as his bishop's secretary. Athanasius was born.into a Christian family around 295. His parents saw that he received the best possible educa- tion. As a young man he thought about becoming a hermit and living in the desert. But he decided to become a priest. At the Council of Nicaea he helped his bishop defend the church's .faith against Arius. Athanasius may have taken part in writing the creed we still pray each Sunday. Three years after the Council of Nicaea, Athanasius became bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. He taught his people the central beliefs agreed to in the Nicene Creed. But powerful followers of Arius were determined to silence him. His enemies succeeded in having him deposed and sent into exile. Two years later he was allowed to return but his enemies soon forced him to leave again. For many, many years Bishop Athanasius was to struggle with those who oppos- ed him. Once soldiers broke into his church during a service to capture him. He spent years in hiding, moving from place to place to avoid arrest. During those difficult times Athanasius wrote important books about Catholic beliefs and against Arius' teachings. He guided many people to become monks and nuns. Finally in 362 he was allowed to return to the city of Alexandria as bishop. Most of the next 10 years were peaceful for Athanasius. He died in 373 and is considered a great teacher and defender of the faith. His feast is May 2. (Ms. Manternach is the author of catechetical works, scripture stories and original stories for children.) Who is Jesus? What do you think? b What is your favorite story about Jesus? Below, tell why [] At the time of St. Athanasius, people were having agreat debate you like that story. What kind of person does it show Jesus about who Jesus really is. Why do Christies care so much about tO be? Does it say anything about what Jesus wants of us? Jesus and want to undemtd him? t ) From the bookshelf Actions often express.what we believe. In The Four Good p Friends by Jock Curie, Maria Is a woodcutter's wife. She is b generous and caring. Simon is selfish and rude. One day a knight p knocks on their door.. He Is treated warmly by Maria but rudely by Simon so he rides away hungry. Through the knight's Influence, Simon Is locked up in a castle to learn how to behave more t generously and Maria chooses to join him. Later, four antmals that Maria cared for cleverly free them. This is a simple tale of how i two people in the same household can believe differently about something and how their beliefs affect themselves and others. I (Henry Holt and Co., 521 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10175. 1987. t Hardback, $12.95.) 11 ,;(h,