Saint Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem Cyril was born in Jerusalem during the reign of Constantine the Great and died during the reign of Theodosius the Great (315-386 A.D.) He was ordained a priest in 346 A.D. and succeeded to the throne of Blessed Maximus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, in 350 A.D. On three occasions he was dethroned and sent into exile. Finally, during the reign of Theodosius, he returned but was not reinstated. He lived peacefully for eight years and then gave up his soul to the Lord. He underwent two difficult struggles: one against the Arians, who became powerful under Constantius, the son of Constantine, and the other during the reign of Julian the Apostate, against this traitor and the Jews. During a period of Arian domination, on the day of Pentecost, the sign of the Cross, brighter than the sun, stretched over Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, lasting for several hours beginning at nine o’clock in the morning. This phenomenon, seen by all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, was reported in writing to Emperor Constantius, and served greatly in establishing Orthodoxy over the heretics. During the time of the Apostate, still another sign occurred. In order to humiliate the Christians, Julian persuaded the Jews to restore the Temple of Solomon. Cyril prayed to God to prevent this. There was a terrible earthquake, which destroyed all that had been newly built. Then the Jews began restoration anew. Again there was an earthquake, which not only destroyed the newly constructed portion but also overturned and scattered the old stones beneath the ground that supported the Temple. And so the words of the Lord came true: There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down (Mark 13:2; Luke 21:6). Among the many writings of this Holy Father is his Catechetical Discourses, a first-class work preserved to the present, which confirms the Faith and practice of Orthodoxy. This saint was a unique archpastor and a great ascetic. He was meek, humble, exhausted from fasting, and pale in complexion. After a life of many labors and noble struggles for the Orthodox Faith, Cyril peacefully reposed and took up his habitation in the eternal court of the Lord.
Saint Ananias The Wonderworker Ananias was born in Chalcedon. He was short in stature, like Zacchaeus of old, but great in spirit and faith. He withdrew from the world in his fifteenth year and settled in a hut near the Euphrates River. There he prayed to God and atoned for his sins, at first with his teacher Mayum and, after his teacher’s death, alone. Through the power of his prayers he replenished a dry well with water, healed the sick of various maladies, and tamed wild beasts. A tamed lion accompanied him and was constantly at his service. He discerned the future. When Pionius, a stylite, was attacked and badly beaten by robbers some distance away from Ananias, the stylite decided to descend from the pillar and complain to the judges. St. Ananias discerned the soul of this stylite and his intention. He sent a letter to Pionius, conveyed by his lion, counseling him to abandon his intention, forgive his assailants and continue in his asceticism. His charity was inexpressible. The bishop of Neocaesarea presented him with a donkey in order to ease the burden of carrying water from the river, but he gave the donkey to a needy man who had complained to him about his poverty. The bishop presented him with another donkey and he also gave that one away. Finally, the bishop gave him a third donkey, not only to serve as a water- carrier but one to be cared for and returned. Before his death Ananias saw Moses, Aaron and Or [an Egyptian Ascetic] approaching him, and they called out to him: “Ananias, the Lord is calling you; arise and come with us.” He revealed this to his disciples and gave up his soul to the Lord, Whom he had faithfully served. He was 110 years old when his earthly life ended.
Hymn 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:
- How they wrote this epithet above his head: King of the Jews (Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38);
- How those passing by scorned Him, shaking their heads and reviling Him;
- How even the thief on the cross reviled Him;
- 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: Thywill 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.