St. Cyril of Jerusalem
The crises that the Church faces today may seem minor when compared with the threat posed by the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ and almost overcame Christinity in the fourth century. Cyril was to be caught up in the controversy, accused (later) of Arianism by St. Jerome (September 30), and ultimately vindicated both by the men of his own time and by being declared a Doctor of the Church in 1822.
Raised in Jerusalem, well-educated, especially in the Scriptures, he was ordained a priest by the bishop of Jerusalem and given the task of catechizing during Lent those preparing for Baptism and during the Easter season the newly baptized. His Catecheses remain valuable as examples of the ritual and theology of the Church in the mid-fourth century.
There are conflicting reports about the circumstances of his becoming bishop of Jerusalem. It is certain that he was validly consecrated by bishops of the province. Since one of them was an Arian, Acacius, it may have been expected that his "cooperation" would follow. Conflict soon rose between Cyril and Acacius, bishop of the rival nearby see of Caesarea. Cyril was summoned to a council, accused of insubordination and of selling Church property to relieve the poor. Probably, however, a theological difference was also involved. He was condemned, driven from Jerusalem, and later vindicated, not without some association and help of Semi-Arians. Half his episcopate was spent in exile (his first experience was repeated twice). He finally returned to find Jerusalem torn with heresy, schism and strife, and wracked with crime. Even St. Gregory of Nyssa, sent to help, left in despair.
They both went to the (second ecumenical) Council of Constantinople, where the amended form of the Nicene Creed was promulgated in 381. Cyril accepted the word consubstantial (that is, of Christ and the Father). Some said it was an act of repentance, but the bishops of the Council praised him as a champion of orthodoxy against the Arians. Though not friendly with the greatest defender of orthodoxy against the Arians, Cyril may be counted among those whom Athanasius called "brothers, who mean what we mean, and differ only about the word [consubstantial]."
Those who imagine that the lives of saints are simple and placid, untouched by the vulgar breath of controversy, are rudely shocked by history. Yet it should be no surprise that saints, indeed all Christians, will experience the same difficulties as their Master. The definition of truth is an endless, complex pursuit, and good men and women have suffered the pain of both controversy and error. Intellectual, emotional and political roadblocks may slow up people like Cyril for a time. But their lives taken as a whole are monuments to honesty and courage.
"It is not only among us, who are marked with the name of Christ, that the dignity of faith is great; all the business of the world, even of those outside the Church, is accomplished by faith. By faith, marriage laws join in union persons who were strangers to one another. By faith, agriculture is sustained; for a man does not endure the toil involved unless he believes he will reap a harvest. By faith, seafaring men, entrusting themselves to a tiny wooden craft, exchange the solid element of the land for the unstable motion of the waves. Not only among us does this hold true but also, as I have said, among those outside the fold. For though they do not accept the Scriptures but advance certain doctrines of their own, yet even these they receive on faith" (Catechesis V, Cyril).
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me, creating me in his image and likeness, making me his temple....
Lord, grant me the grace to be free from the excesses of this life.
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried or angry. I acknowledge how I really am.
The Word of God
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
The greatest among you must be your servant. (Matthew 23:11)
"If elected, I will not give in to special interest groups. I won't forget my humble roots. I'll be a servant of the people!" How many times have you heard an aspiring politician make these promises—only to see the exact opposite play out over time? Many a politician has promised to lighten the load of the people but, once installed, becomes just as elitist as his predecessor and loses touch with the very burdens he promised to ease!
It seems that Jesus was familiar with this tendency. But for him, it wasn't elected officials. It was some of those who served as religious leaders in Israel. Impressed with their standing, some of the scribes and Pharisees lost track of the real burdens that everyday people were facing. Despite the good intentions of these men, the allure of elitism proved too strong, and they began enjoying their status too much to remember the call to care for the poor, the widow, and the orphan.
In contrast to these religious elites, Jesus devoted himself to setting his people free from whatever was burdening them. With words of forgiveness, he released a woman from the burden of shame over her past sins (Luke 7:36-50). While others grumbled against Zacchaeus' taxes and extortion, Jesus offered him salvation, calling him a treas-ured son of Abraham (19:1-10). On the road to Emmaus, he consoled two downhearted disciples and lifted their hearts with words from Scripture and a taste of the bread of life (24:13-35).
Is there a burden that you're finding hard to carry? Guilt? The pain of a wounded relationship? Powerlessness in the face of temptation? Don't think that God is too distant to help. Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Instead of exempting himself from the Law, he fulfilled it. He became a man just like us. He shared in all the joys and sorrows we experience. He carried the cross so that we might gain heaven. Surely he can help you now!
Today, choose just one thing that is burdening you, and bring it to the Lord. Don't think it's too small—or too big—for him to handle. Just tell him about it. Then listen quietly for his words of comfort, wisdom, and help.
"Jesus, I surrender to you."
Isaiah 1:10, 16-20; Psalm 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
As I was about to meditate on the coming reflection, I asked myself, so what was today's readings all about, but instead of me going at it alone, I want you to take the quiz and see how you do on it yourself, how much soaked in? See if you can score a 100 (only 5 questions) click the link: Take part in the online quiz
For every 90-100% score, I will donate $10 for Food For the Poor today, so don't cheat, don't go back to the readings, simply take the quiz. Take the quiz and come quickly back.
Ok, so you took the quiz, and maybe you got them all right, and maybe you got some answers wrong. The point to prove, especially if you didn't get them all right or even failed, was to see how important or how much our lives allow Him to speak. Because for me, I was being taken away by other thoughts, much like last night at the community rosary, even the brother leading the rosary said "I just wasn't feeling it". I said I felt the same, and I also said that I have been feeling something different though by trying. But, how much do we lose by not letting His Word soak in? In today's 1st Holy Scripture we hear our Lord say "Come now, let us set things right" as if to ask us to join Him. Will you join our Master? Call no one else your Master says our Lord in the Holy Gospel. He is the WAY only. Call no one else your Father, HE IS OUR GOD ALONE. Call no one else Rabbi, for we have only ONE TEACHER. And He is an awesome teacher. I don't think you will be tested by our Rabbi in the way I just tested your knowledge, and it is good, because as me and my bro agreed last night "it is not all in the knowledge" it is all in the heart, where God resides and how you treat Him in others' hearts. A Nigerian priest said at a cursillo retreat emphatically in his sermon with a heavy Nigerian accent "Do As I DO, NOT as I SAY". I told the brother last night that one can talk about repentance and not really feel repented for one's sins. Jesus wants us to be able to take on this challenge of Lent to lead to a true heart that can truly repent. I find the challenge difficult, even more difficult than that quiz LOL! I believe though, that our Master leaves us not without help, the Holy Spirit, and His Word and Body. He helps all who simply can reach out and ask for it sincerely, and above all, serve all. I read a quote today by Ann Spangler in her book Praying the Names of Jesus "I want God to change my heart, to help me break out of my own self-centeredness so that I can experience two things—more anguish and more love for his estranged children." And another quote by St. Leo the Great ""No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. " What powerful words, as if to say from Heaven "you are not alone". God is with us, don't be afraid, take my hand and step out into the light.
Jesus Help Us Love you all the better, all the more...