St. Hilary, defender of the faith

Today Holy Mother Church celebrates the feast of St. Hilary. He was born of pagan parents in Poitiers, France. The people of Poitiers were so impressed with him that they chose him to be their bishop when he was only 29.

He is well known for speaking out against Arianism, the heresy which denies the divinity of Christ. When Emperor Constantius II tried to persuade him to sign a paper condemning St. Athanasius, the great defender of faith, he refused. In outrage at his refusal, the emperor sent him to Phyygia.

Yet he did a great deal of good in exile. Many consider him to have been a very fierce defender of the faith, yet he was charitable in dealing with those bishops and clergy who had given in to the Arian heresy.

Emperor Constantius II called him “disturber of the peace” for fighting so hard against what he believed to be grave wrong, yet Sts. Jerome and Augustine called him “teacher of the churches” for the same reason: he fought for the faith.

Indeed, St. Hilary took St. Paul’s commands seriously:

Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. 2 Tim. 1:13, 14

St. Hilary once said this: “On one side, me-thought I saw the Lord calling me; on the other the world offering me its seducing charms and pleasures. How often did I embrace and reject, will and not will the same thing! But in the end Jesus Christ triumphed in me. And three days after Honoratus had left me, the mercy of God, solicited by his prayers, subdued my rebellious soul.”

He was also known to be quite the preacher, and needless to say, he watered nothing down! Apparently many people would leave the church right before he gave his homily, to which he yelled: “You will not so easily get out of hell!”

Yet, he was a compassionate and charitable man. But he was unwavering in truth.

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