Today we commemorate, besides the great prophet Elijah, a little less well known saint, St. Athanasius of Brest-Litovsk, who was a front line soldier in the battle against the Unia.
In finely drawn traces there rises up before us this priestly image of the great champion of Orthodoxy, unsparing for faith and neighbour. Deeply religious, inexorably devoted to the faith of the holy fathers, he became bold of spirit and expressed by word and by deed his priestly indignation against the oppression of Orthodox Christians by the haughty Latino-Uniates. With fervent faith in his calling by God he entered into the struggle for his oppressed brethren. “I am not a prophet, but only a servant of God my Creator, sent in accord with the times, in order to speak to everyone the truth… He for this hath sent me, so that I might proclaim beforetime the destruction of the accursed Unia.” Suchlike were the words of the fervent, unyielding and inspired struggler for Orthodoxy, deeply believing in the victorious power of the true faith-confession.
The complete affirmation of Orthodoxy and the final and total undoing of the Unia — Saint Athanasii saw in this his single goal, the realisation for which he gave up his holy life. Besides this end, there was naught other than as he already lived in his personal life. Having submitted to the will of God, he had no thought for dangers, nor considered the obstacles, to fulfill his holy duty. His daring, spiritually-inspired speech and writings of petition, his published grievances against the gatherings and voluntary folly in Christ — the Monk-Martyr Athanasii tried all these expedients for the attainment and triumph of his sacred goal — the affirmation of Orthodoxy in the ancient Russian land. One time, having repudiated the Unia, he was inspired with a deep sense of pity and love towards those who had become the victims of Uniate complicity. The righteousness and sincerity of Saint Athanasii in relation to those nearby defined the course of all his deeds. By his existence in the solitary life, surrounded by open and hidden enemies, the holy ascetic remained a steadfast defender and pillar of Orthodoxy, strengthened only by the light of faith in its solemnity and veracity. A martyr’s death did not frighten him, wherefore he preached the fulfillment of his prophetic prediction: “The Unia will die out, but Orthodoxy will flourish.”
From the life of St. Athanasius, abbot of Brest-Litovsk