A little over four hundred years ago, Gian Lorenzo Bernini was given a commission by Pope Alexander VII to build a life-size reliquary for the Cathedra on which Saint Peter and each Pope for the first nine centuries sat. While the origin of the chair is today in doubt, the shrine has stood as a glorious testament to the Petrine office of assuring unity in the Church.
The chair, like that ministry, is supported by four Church Fathers: Augistine, Ambrose, Chrysosthom and the “Pillar of the Church” we commemorate today, Saint Athanasius. He is responsible for introducing the concept of homoousious, or consubstantiality to the Creed and was a great champion on the faith.
But I have just one story to tell you from when Athanasius was still a small boy, playing outside Bishop Alexander’s house by the shore. It seems, like many good Catholic boys, Athanasius liked to play Mass indoors, and when by the ocean he and his companions would play baptism with the neighborhood children. The Bishop was concerned, however, that the Baptisms might be valid and called them all inside, reminding them that it is wrong to Baptize without a proper catehumenate, and so they had all best study their catechisms so they could grow up to do the real thing some day.
Which little Athanasius did, indeed coming to understand the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity even better than anyone else before him.
Which is why we study too.