National Catholic Reporter

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Jan. 13, St. Hilary of Poitiers, doctor of the church

 |  NCR Today

"I find particularly beautiful the following formula of St Hilary: 'God knows not how to be anything other than love, he knows not how to be anyone other than the Father. Those who love are not envious and the one who is the Father is so in his totality. This name admits no compromise, as if God were father in some aspects and not in others.'"

--Pope Benedict XVI on Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Hilary was a pagan, who became a Catholic, and a husband and father who became a bishop. He lived from about 300 to about 368.

He fought against Arianism, which "denies that the Son is of one essence, nature, or substance with God; He is not consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, and therefore not like Him, or equal in dignity, or co-eternal, or within the real sphere of Deity".

Hilary's treatise On the Trinity begins with an account of his inability to believe in the "absurdity, the foulness, the impiety" of pagan practices, and the joy he took in discovering the God of Moses and the prophets.

In Hilary of Poitiers on the Trinity: From De Fide to De Trinitate, published by Oxford University Press in 2009, "Carl Beckwith engages the extensive scholarship on the fourth-century Trinitarian debates and brings new light on the structure and chronology of Hilary's monumental De Trinitate."

Preaching a series of sermons on the life and writings of St. Hilary of Poitiers would be an ideal way for a pastor to explain the revival of the word "consubstantial" to his parishioners and to educate them about the Nicene Creed, Arianism, and other conflicts and doctrinal developments in ecclesiastical history.

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