January 13, 2010
St. Hilary of Poitiers
Today the Church invites us to celebrate the feast of Hilary of Poitiers, a fourth century Bishop and Doctor of the Western Church.
During Hilary’s years as a Priest and Bishop, the Arian heresy caused deep divisions in the Church. Arian taught that Christ was not truly God; that Christ was not divine but only human.
As Bishop of his native city of Poitiers in what is now modern day France, Hilary mounted a vigorous defense of the divinity of Christ.
The Arian bishops objected and, using their influences with the Emperor, forced Hilary into a three year exile.
Returning to his diocese in 360, Hilary resumed his pastoral activity: preaching, writing and solicitous care for the poor.
Reflecting on the life and pastoral labors of this great Bishop of the early Church, we are able to understand and appreciate the importance of an authentic knowledge and understanding of our Catholic Faith.
Saint Hilary offers an important lesson to those of us who are living in the present set of circumstances in the society and culture and also within the Church herself: one must live what one believes; one must be a witness to the Truth and be willing and able to defend it in a way that is, on the one hand, humble, gentle and sincere and, on the other hand, strong, constant and faithful.
In his treatise, De Trinitate, Hilary speaks of the desire he had to remain faithful to his Baptismal Vows. Today, on his Liturgical Memorial, we wish to make this prayer of Saint Hilary of Poitiers our very own prayer:
“Obtain, O Lord,” St. Hilary recites with inspiration, “that I may keep ever faithful to what I have professed in the symbol of my regeneration, when I was baptized in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. That I may worship you, our Father, and with you, your Son; that I may deserve your Holy Spirit, who proceeds from you through your Only Begotten Son…Amen.”