St. Cyril of Jerusalem

St Cyril of Jerusalem

Wednesday March 31, 2021 / March 18, 2021

Third Week of the Great Lent. Tone one.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

St. Cyril, archbishop of Jerusalem (386). New Hieromartyr Demetrius priest, Virgin-martyr Natalia (1938). Martyrs Trophimus and Eucarpus of Nicomedia (300). Venerable Ananias (Aninas), presbyter and monk, of the Euphrates.

The Scripture Readings

Isaiah 10:12-20 (6th Hour)
Genesis 7:6-9 (Vespers, 1st Reading)
Proverbs 9:12-18 (Vespers, 2nd Reading)

Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem

Commemorated on March 18

      Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, was born in Jerusalem in the year 315 and was raised in strict Christian piety. Having reached the age of maturity, he became a monk, and in the year 346 he became a presbyter. In the year 350, upon the death of archbishop Maximos, he succeeded him upon the Jerusalem cathedra-seat.
      In the dignity of Patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Cyril zealously fought against the heresies of Arius and Macedonias. In doing so, he brought upon himself the animosity of the Arianising bishops, who sought to have him deposed and banished from Jerusalem.
      In the year 351 at Jerusalem, on the feastday of Pentecost at the 3rd hour of the day, there occurred a miraculous portent: the Holy Cross appeared in the heavens, shining with a radiant light. It stretched forth from Golgotha over the Mount of Olives. Saint Cyril reported about this portent to the Arian emperor Constantius (351-363), hoping to convert him to Orthodoxy.
      The heretic Akakios – deposed by the Council of Sardica, was formerly the metropolitan of Caesarea, and in collaboration with the emperor he resolved to have Saint Cyril removed. An intense famine struck Jerusalem, and Saint Cyril went through all his own wealth on acts of charity. But since the famine did not abate, the saint began to pawn off church items, buying on the money in exchange wheat for the starving. The enemies of the saint mongered about a scandalous rumour, that they had apparently seen a woman in the city dancing around in clergy garb. And taking advantage of this rumour, the heretics by force threw out the saint.

The saint found shelter with bishop Siluan in Tarsus. After this, a Local Council gathered at Seleucia, at which there were about 150 bishops, and among them Saint Cyril. The heretical metropolitan Akakios did not want to allow him to take a seat, but the Council would not consent to this. Akakios thereupon quit the Council and in front of the emperor and the Arian patriarch Eudoxios he denounced both the Council and Saint Cyril. The emperor had the saint imprisoned.
      When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) ascended the throne, seemingly out of piety he repealed all the decrees of Constantius, directed against the Orthodox. Saint Cyril returned to his own flock. But after a certain while, when Julian had become secure upon the throne, he openly apostacised and renounced Christ. He permitted the Jews to start rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple that had been destroyed by the Romans, and he even provided them a portion of the means for the building from state monies. Saint Cyril predicted, that the words of the Saviour about the destruction of the Temple down to its very stones (Lk. 21: 6) would undoubtedly transpire, and the blasphemous intent of Julian would come to naught. And thus one time there occurred such a powerful earthquake, that even the solidly set foundation of the ancient Solomon Temple shifted in its place, and what had been erected anew fell down and shattered in dust. When the Jews nevertheless started construction anew, a fire came down from the heavens and destroyed the tools of the workmen. Great terror seized everyone. And on the following night there appeared on the garb of the Jews the Sign of the Cross, which they by no means could extirpate.
      After this Heavenly confirmation of the prediction of Saint Cyril, they banished him again, and the cathedra-seat was occupied by Saint Kyriakos. But Saint Kyriakos soon suffered a martyr’s death (+ 363, Comm. 28 October).
      After the emperor Julian perished in 363, Saint Cyril returned to his cathedra-seat, but during the reign of the emperor Valens (364-378) he was sent into exile for a third time. It was only under the holy emperor Saint Theodosius the Great (379-395) that he finally returned to his archpastoral activity. In the year 381 Saint Cyril participated in the Second OEcumenical Council, which condemned the heresy of Macedonias and affirmed the Nicea-Constantinople Credal-Symbol of Faith.
      Of the works of Saint Cyril, particularly known are 23 Instructions (18 are Catechetical for those preparing to accept Holy Baptism, and 5 are for the newly-baptised) and 2 Discourses on Gospel themes: “About the Paralytic” and “Concerning the Transformation of Water into Wine at Cana”.
      At the basis of the Catechetical Instructions is a detailed explanation of the Symbol of Faith. The saint suggests that the Christian should inscribe the Symbol of Faith upon “the tablets of the heart”. “The articles of the faith, – teaches Saint Cyril, – were compiled not through human cleverness, but has therein gathered everything most important from all the entire Scripture, and as such it is compiled into a single teaching of faith. Just as the mustard seed within its small kernel has within it contained all its plethora of branches, thus precisely also does the faith in its several declarations combine all the pious teachings of the Old and the New Testaments”. Saint Cyril died in the year 386.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

HYMNS OF PRAISE

SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM

A large sanctuary light glows before the altar,

And a small sanctuary light glows with a smaller flame.

The one and the other give off the same light,

And before the same God they shine.

Both great saints and lesser saints

With the same flame of Christ are set on fire.

Among the great saints–the large sanctuary lamps–

The Holy Church numbers St. Cyril.

He explained and confirmed the Faith,

And whatever he said in words he confirmed by his life.

His word was of the Holy Spirit,

And his life was a reflection of the flame of heaven.

Arius he shamed and Julian he crushed,

And to many ailing souls he was a balm.

Word for word, he believed in Christ;

Therefore his words were as resplendent as gold

And continue to be so today.

He encourages the weak and those of little faith,

And makes joyful the right-believers in Christ.

That is why the Church glorifies and honors Cyril:

Throughout the centuries, the name of Cyril echoes.


REFLECTION

There are many vindictive people who think that time brought glorification to Christ, and that, in the early centuries of Christianity, the Lord was not as esteemed as He was in later times. Nothing is easier than to squelch this falsehood. This is how St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes about the Lord Christ: “This is He Who is and He Who was, consubstantial with the Father, the Only-Begotten, equally enthroned, equal in power, Almighty, without beginning, Uncreated, Unchangeable, Indescribable, Invisible, Inexpressible, Incomprehensible, Immeasurable, Unfathomable, Uncircumscribed. He is “the brightness of the Father’s glory” (cf. Hebrews 1:13). He is the Creator of the substance of all things created. He is the Light of Light, shining from the bosom of the Father. He is the God of gods (Psalm 48:14), and God of God, Who gives us knowledge of Himself. He is the Fountain of Life (Psalm 36:9), flowing from the Father’s Fountain of life. He is the River of God (Psalm 46:4, 65:9), Who comes forth from the infinity of God but is not separated from Him. He is the Treasury of the Father’s good gifts and endless blessings. He is the Living Water (John 14:4) that gives life to the world. He is the Uncreated Light that is begotten but not separated from the First Sun. He is God the Word (John 1:1), Who with one word brought forth all things from non-existence into being… This is He Who created us in the image of God and has now made Himself man in our image; man, but at the same time God.” Even today, after sixteen centuries since this Confession of Faith was written, the Orthodox Church adheres to this same Faith, word for word and letter for letter.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord Jesus, mocked on the Cross:

1. How they wrote this epithet above his head: King of the Jews (Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38);

2. How those passing by scorned Him, shaking their heads and reviling Him;

3. How even the thief on the cross reviled Him;

4. How through the centuries the persecutors of Christians have scorned Him.

HOMILY

on the King Who does not wish to defend Himself with His army

“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).

Thus spoke the Lord to the disciple who drew a sword to defend his Teacher in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is obvious from these words that the Lord could have defended Himself if He had wanted to, not only from Judas and his company of guards, but also from Pilate and the leaders of the Jews. The might of one angel is greater than the greatest army of men; how much more so is the might of twelve legions of angels!

The Lord did not want to seek this help from the Father. In His prayer in Gethsemane, He said to His Father: Thy will be done (Matthew 26:42). And He immediately knew the will of the Father: that it was necessary that He be given over to suffering. He was in agreement with the will of His Father and set out on the path of suffering. It was necessary to depict the background darkly, that the image of the Resurrection would appear clearer. It was necessary to allow evil to compete as much as it could, so that afterward it would explode and disintegrate into nothing. It was necessary to allow evil to cry aloud, so that soon afterward it would become speechless before the miraculous Resurrection. It was necessary that all the wicked deeds of men against God should be manifested, so that all would be able to see the love and mercy of God toward mankind. The angels of God were not sent to defend Christ from the Jews; rather, the angels of God were sent, after three days, to announce the Holy Resurrection of Christ.

O Lord, All-powerful and All-merciful, have mercy on us and save us!

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.