Thursday 30th October 2014

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes… St. Hilary, Doctor Of The Church

January 6, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By CAROLE BRESLIN

During the earliest years of Christianity, the Church survived even though she was persecuted endlessly from the outside. In fact, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church” became the calling card of the growth of the Church as it converted so many people. First the Jewish leaders persecuted the followers of Christ, the most notable being St. Paul. Not long afterward the Roman emperors from Nero to Diocletian sought to destroy the Church. When Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 311 proclaiming religious liberty, the attacks on Christianity from outside decreased but the persecutions from inside the Church multiplied. The Arians, who denied the divinity of Christ, grew in power and influence throughout the Roman Empire.
Providentially, this resulted in the development of the Catholic doctrines about the natures of Jesus Christ. A number of the saints wrote and spoke extensively throughout the empire on the divinity of Christ, refuting the teachings of Arius. Along with St. Athanasius and St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Hilary defended the divinity of Christ.
In the early fourth century, St. Hilary was born in Poitiers in Gaul. His parents, of ancient and noble lineage, were pagans. Over the years, Hilary contemplated the existence of man and concluded that man was made to practice virtue which would be rewarded after death. He also thought that there must be a supreme eternal being. As he sought for outside support for his theories, he came across the Hebrew Scriptures. Reading about the Hebrews and the interaction of God and Moses, he immediately recognized the truth when he read God’s response to Moses, “I Am Who Am.” Hilary wrote, “God shows that these words, ‘He Who Is,’ are the only ones which attest to His inalterable eternity.”
By further studying the Scriptures he came to understand other attributes of God such as His immensity and the beauty of His creatures. This quest for discovering God through truth helped him to know the Incarnation of the Word which then led him to become one of the staunchest defenders of Christ’s divinity, especially after reading the first verses of the Gospel of St. John, “And the Word was made flesh.”
Logically, he became a Christian and was baptized. He, his wife, and his daughter Apra also came into the Church. His zeal, his gentleness, and his knowledge were so great that even priests took their example from this new convert.
In 350, the bishop of Poitiers died. Although married, Hilary was called to be his successor, which he strongly resisted. His humility about accepting such a position in the Church only increased the desire of the people to have him as their bishop. With his wife’s agreement, he accepted the office. She said her farewells to him, saying, “I will see you at the altar.”
Sadly, at this time Constantine failed to defend the truth of Christ’s divinity. He did nothing to curtail the rising influence of those following the heresy of Arius. The emperor’s son, Constantius, who became emperor upon the death of Constantine, supported the Arians. He banished the rightful bishops and replaced them with Arians. He set up Arian councils and jailed those who fought against the Arians.
It seemed the Church would be all but destroyed by the heretical sect. After 355 following the Council of Milan, the errors moved toward France. In 356 Hilary, assuming the good intentions of the Emperor Constantius, wrote to him fearlessly but charitably denouncing the errors of Arianism. This earned him banishment to Phrygia to lessen his influence and silence his defense of the divinity of Christ. Needless to say, it did not work.
During his time in exile, he wrote some of his most profound works on the Trinity. Meanwhile, in Poitiers, his faithful priests were able to resist the tide of Arianism in Gaul. When they received letters from Hilary, they responded with fervent declarations of faith.
Though he wrote positively about correct doctrine without attacking errors, and though he proclaimed the truth rather than faulting the errors, the Arians became even more incensed with him. Hilary declared that such thinking results in men seeking more what they want than what is true.
Then Constantius called a council to be held in Constantinople. Hilary wrote to him. His letter was brilliantly written, making a marvelous case for preaching the divinity of the Son of Mary. Hilary was invited to attend the council. The debate about Arianism caused such chaos that the Arian bishops persuaded Constantius to send Hilary back to his Diocese of Poitiers away from the council. Oddly enough, his enemies who sought his exile now requested he return to his diocese.
St. Hilary received a rousing welcome from his sheep, including St. Martin of Tours whom St. Hilary mentored for many years. His first undertaking in Poitiers was to undo the damage done by the Arians in Gaul. He deposed several bishops supporting the heresy and sought to reconcile with others. Although criticized for such leniency, such charity helped to defuse the fire of the cult and win the wayward back into full communion with Holy Mother Church. If not for Hilary’s diplomacy, historians say, France would have been lost to Arianism.
Hilary wrote one more time to Constantius, urging him to cease his support of Arius. It is uncertain whether or not this letter ever reached the emperor, who died shortly thereafter in 361. In no uncertain terms, Hilary explained that the flattery of the Arians “does not threaten its victims with the sword but seeks to corrupt the faith with attraction of rewards…speaks of unity only to trouble the peace.” In short, it uses all the guile of the Devil to lead souls to Hell.
Eventually, a debate was arranged between Auxentius, an Arian, and Hilary in Milan under the auspices of Valentinian, the emperor. The Arians conspired against Hilary and he was again sent to Poitiers.
Upon his return, he learned that his daughter’s hand had been sought in marriage. He wrote to her beseeching her to take on the bridegroom of eternal happiness. The letter was eloquent and also contained several hymns he had written for her. She gave her life to Christ and died, “in the odor of sanctity some years later.”
Hilary continued to preach and catechize through his sermons, which have been collected into treatises. He continued defending the divinity of Christ with determination and charity. He died in 368. Pope Pius IX declared him a doctor of the Church.
Dear St. Hilary, you witnessed the many enemies within the Church and stood firm by the grace of God. Obtain for us the grace to recognize those who deny the teachings of the Church while claiming to be Catholic. May we also, while being firm in resisting their errors, work for their conversion. Amen.

+    +    +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. Mrs. Breslin’s articles have appeared in Homiletic & Pastoral Review and in the Marian Catechist Newsletter. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Angola: Catholic Priest Refutes Criticism of Church Practices

Lubango — The Southern Huila province?s Lubango city emeritus archbishop, Zacarias Kamwenho, rejected as false the claim that Catholic Christians worship images. Speaking on Sunday in the Muxima Diocese, in Lubango, the archbishop explained that Catholic Christians worship God instead,…Continue Reading

Ave Maria School of Law Wins Its HHS Mandate Case in Federal Court

The Obama Administration has suffered another defeat in its quest to force Catholics and people of faith to pay for abortion-causing drugs, as required by the HHS Mandate. Today the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida came down…Continue Reading

Catholic Educators Appeal to Obama Administration for Relief from HHS Mandate

Today a coalition including The Cardinal Newman Society, leaders of Catholic schools and colleges, and the expert attorneys of the Alliance Defending Freedom told the Obama administration that its latest rule mandating insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing…Continue Reading

Toronto schools hosting ‘LGBTQ’ conference for students as young as 11

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is hosting three student conferences within the span of eight days for the purpose of LGBTQ activism.  The conferences, which have been organized in collaboration with Jer’s Vision, will take place on October 28,…Continue Reading

The Synod and the Media: Culpable Naïveté or Shrewd Calculation?

Upon becoming director of media relations for the American bishops in late 1969, I quickly made a crucial discovery about my new employers. With just a handful of exceptions, the bishops were painfully naïve about the news business, yet convinced…Continue Reading

Chaldean Catholic patriarch suspends 10 priests, including 1 from El Cajon

SAN DIEGO – The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has suspended 10 priests, including one from El Cajon. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako issued a decree a month ago, demanding the priests return to Iraq or be suspended. Wednesday…Continue Reading

Retired Pope Says Interreligious Dialogue No Substitute For Mission

VATICAN CITY – Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.” He also said the true motivation…Continue Reading

California Forces Churches to Directly Fund Abortions, Churches Refuse to Comply

To the dismay of California’s people of faith, the California Department of Managed Health Care has reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical…Continue Reading

Relax. God’s Still In Charge.

It’s an enormous challenge to maintain pristine doctrinal purity while at the same time respond to the experiential, personal, and difficult needs of married couples and families. Behind every arcane discussion of gradualism and natural law there are parents and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: The “Relatio Synodi” Is “A Significant Improvement Over The Text Of The ‘Relatio Post Disceptationem'”

In a third short interview with CWR, conducted by e-mail late yesterday, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, offers his impression of the Relatio Synodi, comments on reports that the Synod has…Continue Reading

Synod Final Document Reaffirms Church Teaching

The final document of the Extraordinary Synod was released Saturday as the Synod Fathers voted to approve all 62 paragraphs, but with three paragraphs not receiving the normally required two-thirds majority vote. The three paragraphs, which in the past would…Continue Reading

Catholic Synod: Gay Rights Groups ‘Disappointed’

Catholic gay rights groups say they are disappointed after bishops rejected proposals for wider acceptance of gay people, which had the Pope’s backing. The call to “accept and value” homosexuals was in a draft report, but failed to win the…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Writes Personal Ordinariate Of Our Lady Of Walsingham

ben1

(Vatican Radio) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has sent a message to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established for former Anglicans in England in 2011.  The message was on the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which was released on November 4th 2009. The Pope Emeritus was responding to a letter he received…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Church Visible And Spiritual

pope650

(Vatican Radio)  “Often, we hear people say: the Church doesn’t do this …the Church doesn’t do that!’ ‘Tell me who is the Church? – ‘Well the Church is the priests, the bishops, the Pope …’ We are all the Church! All of us all of us Baptized! We are the Church, the Church of Jesus’”. This was the message at…Continue Reading

Pope At Angelus: Love Of God And Neighbour Are Inseparable

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on Sunday. In remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father offered some reflections on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from Gospel…Continue Reading

Pope At Santa Marta: Called To Be Children Of Light

(Vatican Radio) At morning Mass on Monday Pope Francis said that a conscientious examination of our words will help us understand whether we are Christians of light, Christians of darkness or Christians of grey areas. Reflecting on the First Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, the Pope said men are recognizable by their words. By inviting Christians to…Continue Reading

Pass-Fail Grading: For The Professors’ Benefit?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK S.M. writes to offer some observations about the proposal to introduce a “pass-fail” grading system for freshmen at Princeton University. The possibility of doing that was discussed in the October 9 edition of First Teachers. He sees the idea as a “form of grade inflation that is solely intended to accomplish…Continue Reading

Contemporary Culture Encapsulated In A Single Sentence

By DONALD DeMARCO It is remarkable how much a single sentence can reveal about the temper of a culture, even when its author is trying to be withholding. Jacalyn Duffin, a historian and practicing hematologist, is the author of History of Medicine (University of Toronto Press, 2000). It is a 243-page tome that was produced…Continue Reading

Synod Document Of October 13, 2014

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his blog [johnkippley.com] of…Continue Reading

Elite Judges Think The Highest Judge Never Will End Their Misrule

By DEXTER DUGGAN Today people worry about globe-trotting terrorists, the transmission of the deadly Ebola virus, and the way contagions can cross borders when the government insists borders must be open for everyone’s alleged benefit. Meanwhile, unaccountable U.S. judges continue their contagion of immorality, as if God’s judgment never will come, maybe in little germs,…Continue Reading

Chilling Free Speech

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO Earlier this week, the federal government’s National Science Foundation, an entity created to encourage the study of science — encouragement that it achieves by awarding grants to scholars and universities — announced that it had awarded a grant to study what people say about themselves and others in social media. The…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Temples Of The Holy Spirit

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Dedication Of St. John Lateran In Rome Readings: Ezek. 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 1 Cor. 3:9c-11, 16-17 John 2:13-22 Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of a church building that many people have never heard of and also have no idea of its significance. In Rome, there are four major basilicas; the…Continue Reading

Message Of The Extraordinary Synod Of Bishops . . . We Ask You To Walk With Us Toward The Next Synod

(Editor’s Note: Below is the text of the concluding message of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, held October 5-19. This message was released on October 18. (See Fr. Kevin M. Cusick’s column in this issue, p. 2B, and the front page for reporting and commentary on the separate final document of the Extraordinary Synod.) + + +…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Redefining Marriage: Not About The Kids And The Picket Fence

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Following the Extraordinary Synod and the rollback on confusing language about same-sex attraction and the divorced and remarried in the final version of the Relatio Synodi document, the predictable reactions are coming in. Those who continue to hold Church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman are labeled as “bigots,” while…Continue Reading

Debunking The Sola Scriptura Myth… True Tradition And False “Tradition”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 A classical objection: What Catholics call the “Apostolic Tradition” is just a human tradition, which Jesus clearly condemned in the Gospel, when He said to the Pharisees, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?…So, for the sake of your tradition you have made void the…Continue Reading

Public Revelation Vs. Private Revelation

By DON FIER Our previous installment ended by citing a pair of remarkable verses from the Letter to the Hebrews, verses that concisely summarize God’s divine pedagogy, His master plan of divine Revelation: “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Wolfgang

By CAROLE BRESLIN October 31 has come to be yet another Christian holy day corrupted by our secular society. All Hallows Eve, Halloween, is now celebrated with emphasis on evil and horror. Corn mazes with frightening objects around the corner, haunted houses to terrify even the bravest of persons, glorification of vampires, and decorations of death and witches — these…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Mary Claret

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anthony Mary Claret has something in common with at least three other saints. Like St. Peter Claver, he was born in northeastern Spain — over 200 years later. Like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, when he heard Confessions, he frequently could read the souls of the penitents, asking them about a sin that they had not confessed.…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading