Council Wrap and Letter to Followers (Athanasius)

To the people of my church,

As I return from Nicea, I send this letter ahead of me, as I know you all wait with baited breath for news of the council’s decisions.

First, I bring great news: I was given an Imperial Boon by Constantine, and was ordained at the council. With this elevated position I will be better able to serve the Christians of Alexandria, and have a more secure future as Alexander’s successor.

We formulated a Creed on the Nature of the Godhead, that while I did not disagree with, I feel has room for improvement because it allows Arian heresy to remain in the Church. Alexander and I tried to amend the creed during the last day of the council, but were shut down by other council members who were more committed to discussing their own petitions and personal motives. I did sign it though, as I do not believe God has called me to abandon the Church. Rather I commit myself to rooting out heresy in the name of God for the rest of my life.

As I’m sure you all are eager to know, we discussed many canons. First and foremost you will be pleased to know that the usurper Meletius has been forced to return Church property that was stolen by him and his followers to Alexandria. Unfortunately, he has maintained his ordination, and still sees himself as partially independent of Alexander. I voted in favor of both the elevated status and power of the Metropolitan Bishops, and for the re-ordination of Meletius.

We also discussed the date of Easter, which we were able to keep aligned with Passover, even though the Alexandrian method of calculating and celebrating Easter has been abandoned. While I originally supported our method, I chose to back the first Sunday after Passover in favor of a fixed date, because the theological significance of Passover to the crucifixion cannot be ignored or separated from the Resurrection.

The lapsed shall be forgiven and allowed to rejoin the Church without punishment and without a mandated period of repentance, which I obviously supported, because all who seek salvation should be welcome as followers, and Christ teaches us to forgive others. To those in Egypt who had lapsed during the Great Persecution, welcome back! Myself and Christ are pleased to welcome you into the flock.

Celibacy has been mandated for the clergy, but those already married have been grandfathered in and make weep their wives. I voted in favor of this canon, because I believe the ascetic lifestyle is an admirable one, but also because I was the one who proposed the grandfather clause, and to vote against my own motion would create doubt in its righteousness.

Speaking of marriage and women, I managed to keep them out of the clergy, as they have no place as leaders in the Church. While Theclus made strong arguments for the importance of women like Mary Magdalene, female priests are associated with heretical movements and lead to a reversal of God’s order. In addition, this canon will aid in the spread of Christianity into Rome, as there are no positions for women in their society. While I generally am unconcerned with the secular way of doing things, and am more than willing to go against Constantine in the name of the Church, I believe on this matter we must consider the political consequences. The last thing the Church should want is to alienate people and bar them from salvation because our practices are revolting to them.

In all, the council was productive, and I believe the net result can be considered a success. I pray that you, the people of my church, are pleased and that you will support me in my future endeavors to improve the Church and rid it of heresy and its current toleration of heresy.

May God bless my journey home, and may He hold you all safely in His hands until I return.