14 Feb – Memorial for Ss. Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop
Cyril (827-869) was the brother of St. Methodius. Born of Greek nobility, his family was connected to the senate of Thessalonica, and his mother Maria may have been Slavic. He studied at the University of Constantinople and taught philosophy there. He was ordained a priest, and when he became a monk, he took the name Cyril. He was sent with Methodius by the emperor in 961 to convert the Jewish Khazars of Russia, a mission that was successful, and which allowed him to learn the Khazar’s language.
In 863, he was sent with Methodius to convert Moravians in their native tongue. Though some western clergy opposed their efforts and refused to ordain their candidates for the priesthood, they did good work. They developed an alphabet for the Slavonic language that eventually became what is known as the Cyrillic today. After initial criticism for their use of it, they achieved approval of the Liturgy in the Slavonic language. Cyril may have been bishop, but he may have died before the consecration ceremony.
Methodius (826-885) was the brother of St. Cyril. He studied at the University of Constantinople, and taught philosophy there. He was ordained a priest, and sent with Cyril by the emperor in 861 to convert the Jewish Khazars of Russia. Though some western clergy opposed their efforts and refused to ordain their candidates for the priesthood, they did good work. They helped develop an alphabet for the Slavonic language that eventually became what is known as the Cyrillic today.
After initial criticism for their use of it, they achieved approval of the Liturgy in the Slavonic language. Methodius was ordained a bishop. He evangelized in Moravia, Bohemia, Pannonia, and Poland. He baptized St. Ludmilla and Duke Boriwoi.
He was Archbishop of Velehred, Czechoslovakia, but deposed and imprisoned in 870 due to the opposition of German clergy with his work. He was often in trouble over his use of Slavonic in liturgy, with some claiming he preached heresy. However, Methodius was repeatedly cleared of charges. He translated the Bible into the Slavonic languages, and pioneered the use of local and vernacular languages in liturgical settings.
– Patron Saint Index
Happy the man who stands firm when trials come. He has proved himself, and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Never, when you have been tempted, say, ‘God sent the temptation’; God cannot be tempted to do anything wrong, and he does not tempt anybody. Everyone who is tempted is attracted and seduced by his own wrong desire. Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it too has a child, and the child is death.
Make no mistake about this, my dear brothers: it is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change. By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all that he had created.
The disciples had forgotten to take any food and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Then he gave them this warning, ‘Keep your eyes open; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’ And they said to one another, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And Jesus knew it, and he said to them, ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you not yet understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear? Or do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ They answered, ‘Twelve.’ And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ And they answered, ‘Seven.’ Then he said to them, ‘Are you still without perception?’
Yeast of the Pharisees
I am inspired by colleagues who can not only see the big picture but who are also always consciously aware of how new initiatives fit into it. If there is no fit, the initiative should not be pushed as a priority. For instance, we recently discussed the creating study groups for students. If this is done just for the sake of novelty, it might not be sustainable. It must be evaluated in terms of whether and how well it helps teaching and learning. Only then can it be considered in the long-term.
In today’s gospel passage, Jesus warns against the disciples against short-sightedness in faith. This is the yeast of the Pharisees. Given the coming persecution, going to the Pharisees would be a quick-fix. However, that would lead back to square one. The disciples are reminded that Christ is the bread of life that endures and sustains. This is reiterated in the first reading. James reminds his readers to be weary of temptations that seem like God-sends.
We have seen many fads in recent years. In terms of food, crispy coffee buns and bubble tea rank highest. The ease of production and high demand meant quick money. There was a time when two to three shops of each could be seen along a single street. This meant that quality suffered. Not surprisingly, the market crashed and many owners lost their investments. The same applies to our faith journey. What we practice are not fads. We do not go to reconciliation and Mass or pray the rosary as quick-fixes to the trials in life. My brothers and sisters, if that is all they are to us, then we have lost sight of the God behind our prayers.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Prayer: We pray for sobriety in our faith, that we will not be tempted to take the easy way out.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for our daily bread.