RETREAT
ADVENT 2021
DECEMBER 17-19

St. Athanasius

On the Incarnation

Ikone_Athanasius_von_Alexandria.jpg

The importance of Athanasius and his timeless book On the Incarnation

By C.S. Lewis

 

"When I first opened his De Incarnatione I soon discovered by a very simple test that I was reading a masterpiece. I knew very little Christian Greek except that of the New Testament and I had expected difficulties. To my astonishment I found it almost as easy as Xenophon; and only a master mind could, in the fourth century, have written so deeply on such a subject with such classical simplicity. Every page I read confirmed this impression. His approach to the Miracles is badly needed today, for it is the final answer to those who object to them as “arbitrary and meaningless violations of the laws of Nature.” They are here shown to be rather the re-telling in capital letters of the same message which Nature writes in her crabbed cursive hand; the very operations one would expect of Him who was so full of life that when He wished to die He had to “borrow death from others.” The whole book, indeed, is a picture of the Tree of Life – a sappy and golden book, full of buoyancy and confidence. We cannot, I admit, appropriate all its confidence today. We cannot point to the high virtue of Christian living and the gay, almost mocking courage of Christian martyrdom, as a proof of our doctrines with quite that assurance which Athanasius takes as a matter of course. But whoever may be to blame for that it is not Athanasius" (from his introduction).

DRAFT SCHEDULE

Friday, 7pm Evening Prayer (1662 BCP)

Session 1: The life of Athanasius

CS Lewis introduction to the edition - The importance of reading old books

Discussion

9 pm, Compline

Optional refreshments at a local pub

Saturday, 9 am Morning Prayer

Session 2: Part 1 of On the Incarnation

1: Doctrine of Creation

Break

2: First & Second Reasons for the Incarnation:

Noonday Prayer (from the Canadian 1962 BCP)

Session 3: Part 2 of On the Incarnation

1: The Death of the Son of God

Break

2: The Resurrection of the Son of God

Session 4: Part 3 of On the Incarnation

1: Refutation of Opponents (the Jews)

Break

2: Refutation of Opponents (the Gentiles)

5 pm Evening Prayer

Fellowship supper at a local restaurant or pub

Sunday, 10 am Eucharist

Sermon: "But whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:13-17)

Concluding Brunch

Question for discussion:

How may On the Incarnation practically affect our lives and interaction with the world?