Saints Cyril And Methodius, Equals To The Apostles Saints Cyril and Methodius were brothers from Thessalonica, of distinguished and wealthy parents, Leo and Maria. The elder brother Methodius spent ten years as an officer among the Macedonian Slavs and thus learned the Slavic language. After that, Methodius withdrew to Mount Olympus and dedicated himself to monastic asceticism. It was here that Cyril (Constantine) later joined him. When the king of the Khazars, Kagan, requested preachers of the Christian Faith from Emperor Michael Iii, these two brothers were found and sent among the Khazars by command of the emperor. Converting King Kagan to the Christian Faith, they baptized him along with a great number of his chief assistants and an even greater number of the people. After some time they returned to Constantinople, where they compiled the Slavonic alphabet consisting of thirty- eight letters. They then proceeded to translate ecclesiastical books from Greek into Slavonic. At the request of Prince Rastislav, they traveled to Moravia, where they spread and confirmed the sacred Faith and made more copies of the books, distributing them to the priests to teach the youth. At the request of the pope, Cyril traveled to Rome. There he became ill and died, on February 14, 867 A.D. Then Methodius returned to Moravia and labored to strengthen the Christian Faith among the Slavs until his death. Following his death (he reposed in the Lord on April 6, 885 A.D.) his disciples, the Five Followers, with St. Clement the bishop at their head, crossed the Danube River and traveled south into Macedonia. There, from Ohrid, they continued their labor among the Slavs, which Cyril and Methodius had begun in the north.
The Hieromartyr [Priest-Martyr] Mocius [Mucius] Mocius was Roman by birth and a presbyter in Amphipolis, a town in Macedonia. He suffered during the reign of Diocletian. By prayer he destroyed the statue of the god Dionysius. This embittered certain pagans against him, but others he converted to the Faith. He was beheaded for Christ in the year 295 A.D.
Saint Nicodemus, Archbishop Of PeĆ This great hierarch was a Serb by birth. He lived in asceticism on the Holy Mountain [Athos] and was abbot of Hilandar Monastery. Following the death of Sava Iii, he was elected archbishop of “all the Serbian and coastal lands” in the year 1317 A.D. Nicodemus crowned King Milutin in the year 1321 A.D. He translated the Jerusalem Typicon into Serbian. [The Typikon is a book containing the rubrics (directions) for the celebration of the Divine Mysteries and other offices of the Orthodox Church.] In the introduction of this book, Nicodemus writes: “Almighty God, Who knows our weaknesses, will give us spiritual strength, but only if we first display effort.” He sincerely loved the ascetic life and labored to strengthen it throughout the Serbian land. He labored relentlessly to uproot the Bogomil heresy and to strengthen the Orthodox Faith. He reposed in the Lord in the year 1325 A.D. His miracle- working relics rest in the monastery in Peć.
Hymn Of Praise Saint Cyril The Moslem leaders asked Cyril: “How can there be three persons in God? If God is one, from where are there three persons? Our God is one, yours is three!” Cyril replied: “It is not that way, it is not, But it is as the shining sun which warms at noon, Which has its own light, warmth, and circle. But that is a pale picture of the Divine Triad, Three Divine Persons, but One in Essence. Through Christ, this truth is revealed. Never will mortal man comprehend this; God Himself revealed this; this the Church teaches.”
Reflection In the Saracen encampment they asked St. Cyril: “How can Christians wage war and at the same time keep Christ’s commandment to pray to God for their enemies?” To this, St. Cyril replied: “If two commandments were written in one law and given to men for fulfilling, which man will be a better follower of the law: the one who fulfilled one commandment or the one who fulfilled both?” The Saracens replied: “Undoubtedly, he who fulfills both commandments.” St. Cyril continued: “Christ our God commands us to pray to God for those who persecute us and even to do good to them, but He also said to us: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). That is why we bear the insults that our enemies cast at us individually and why we pray to God for them. However, as a society, we defend one another and lay down our lives, that you would not enslave our brethren, would not enslave their souls with their bodies, and would not destroy them in both body and soul.
Contemplation Contemplate the action of God the Holy Spirit upon the apostles:
- How He makes the simple wise;
- How He makes the inarticulate eloquent.
Homily on the irresistible will of God “I say to myself, I will not mention Him, I will speak in His name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9). If anyone still doubts that God spoke through the prophets, let him read this confession of the great prophet Jeremiah, and let him doubt no more. The prophet confesses that he had decided not to speak anymore in the name of the Lord. Why? Because so few paid attention to his word. If anyone heeded his word, the prophet endured reproach and derision daily (Jeremiah 20:8). But when he decided to remain silent, did he in fact remain silent? No, he could not: I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it! He was pressed by the irresistible power of the Spirit of God to speak, and he had to speak. Therefore, it is not the affair of the prophet whether he is going to speak or not: that is the affair of the All-powerful Spirit of God. The prophet is merely the chosen vessel of the All-powerful Spirit of God. All of Holy Scripture is written thus: not according to the will of man but according to the will of God, and not according to the mind of man but according to the mind of God. How is the word of God felt when it enters the prophet from the Spirit of God? This the great Jeremiah explains from his personal experience: It becomes like fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. That is, it is an inspiration from the All-powerful Spirit of God. Under such irresistible internal pressure- -like the pressure of fire shut up in the bones–holy men of God did their writing. And many of them cried out: I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it anymore. Who will oppose the Spirit of God without punishment and destruction? Who will withstand Him when He wills to say or do something? O my brethren, the action of God the Holy Spirit is irresistible! O All-powerful Spirit of God, direct us irresistibly on the path of salvation. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.