Skip to comments.Saint Cyril of Jerusalem
Posted on 03/18/2003 5:27:54 PM PST by Lady In Blue
Cyril of Jerusalem, 315-387. Doctor of faith and against heresy, Feast March 18th.
Gems From Saint Cyril
The one word faith can have two meanings. One kind of faith concerns doctrines. It involves the soul's ascent to and acceptance of some particular matter. It also concerns the soul's good, according to the words of the Lord: "Whoever hears my voice and believes in him who sent me has eternal life, and will not come to be judged." And again: "He who believes in the Son is not condemned, but has passed from death to life."
How great is God's love for [people]! Some good [people] have been found pleasing to God because of years of work. What they achieved by working for many hours at a task pleasing to God is freely given to you by Jesus in one short hour. For if you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved and taken up to paradise by him, just as he brought the thief there. Do not doubt that this is possible. After all, he saved the thief on the holy hill of Golgotha because of one hour's faith; will he not save you too since you have believed?
The other kind of faith is given by Christ by means of a special grace. "To one wise sayings are given through the Spirit, to another perceptive comments by the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing." Now this kind of faith, given by the Spirit as a special favor, is not confined to doctrinal matters, for it produces effects beyond any human capability. If a man who has this faith says to this mountain move from here to there, it will move. For when anybody says this in faith, believing it will happen and having no doubt in his heart, he then receives that grace.
It is of this kind of faith, moreover, that it is said: "If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed." The mustard seed is small in size but it holds an explosive force; although it is sown in a small hole, it produces great branches, and when it is grown birds can nest there. In the same way faith produces great effects in the soul instantaneously. Enlightened by faith, the soul pictures God and sees him as clearly as any soul can. It circles the earth; even before the end of this world it sees the judgment and the conferring of promised rewards. So may you have the faith which depends on you and is directed to God, that you may receive from him that faith which transcends [our] capacity. [Cyril of Jerusalem. Catechesis 5, De fide et symbolo, 10-11; PG 33,518-19]
BTTT on March 18, 2005, Optional Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem!
|SAINT CYRIL, CONFESSOR, ARCHBISHOP OF JERUSALEM315-386 A.D.|
|From the church historians, and his works collected by Dom Touttee in his excellent edition of them at Paris, in 1790.
Cyril was born at or near the city of Jerusalem, about the year 315. So perfectly was he versed in the holy scriptures, that many of his discourses, and some of these pronounced extempore, are only passages of the sacred writings connected and interwoven with each other. He had read diligently both the fathers and the pagan philosophers. Maximus, bishop of Jerusalem, ordained him priest about the year 345, and soon after appointed him his preacher to the people, likewise his catechist to instruct and prepare the catechumens for baptism; thus committing to his care the two principal functions of his own pastoral charge. St. Cyril mentions his sermons to the faithful every Sunday. Catechumens ordinarily remained two years in the course of instruction and prayer, and were not admitted to baptism till they had given proof of their morals and conduct, as wolf as of their constancy in the faith. This office St. Cyril performed for several years; but we have only the course of his catechetical sermons for the year, 348 or 347. Perhaps the others were never committed to writing. He succeeded Maximus in the see of Jerusalem about the end of the year 350.
The beginning of his episcopacy was remarkable for a prodigy by which God was pleased to honor the instrument of our redemption. It is related by Socrates, Philostorgius, the chronicle of Alexandria, &c. St. Cyril, an eye-witness wrote immediately to the emperor Constantius, an exact account of this miraculous phenomenon: and his letter is quoted as a voucher for it by Sozomen, Theophanes, Eutychius, John of Nice, Glycas, and others. Dr. Cave has inserted it at length in his life of St. Cyril. The relation he there gives of the miracle is as follows: "On the nones (or 7th) of May, about the third hour, (or nine in the morning,) a vast luminous body, in the form of a cross, appeared in the heavens, just over the holy Golgotha, reaching as far as the holy mount of Olivet, (that is, almost two English miles in length,) seen not by one or two persons, but clearly and evidently by the whale city. This was not, as may be thought, a momentary transient phenomenon: for it continued several hours together visible to our eyes, and brighter than the sun;; the light of which would have eclipsed it, had not this been stronger. The whole city, struck with a reverential fear, tempered with joy, ran immediately to the church, young and old, Christians and heathens, citizens and strangers, all with one voice giving praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, the worker of miracles; finding by experience the truth of the Christian doctrine, to which the heavens bear witness." He concludes his letter with wishes that the emperor may always glorify the holy and consubstantial Trinity. Philostorgius and the Alexandrian chronicle affirm, that this cross of light was encircled with a large rainbow." The Greek church commemorates this miracle on the 7th of May.
Some time after this memorable event, a difference happened between our saint and Acacius, archbishop of Caesarea, first a warm Semi-Arian, afterwards a thorough Arian. It began on the subject of metropolitical jurisdiction, which Acacius unjustly claimed over the Church of Jerusalem; and what widened the breach between them was their difference of sentiments with regard to the consubstantiality of the Son, which St. Cyril had always most zealously asserted. This was sufficient to render him odious in the eyes of Acacius, who in a council of Arian bishops convened by him, declared St. Cyril deposed for not appearing, after two years' warning, to answer to the crimes alleged against him. One of them was that he had lavished away the goods of the Church, and had applied its sacred ornaments to profane uses. The ground of the accusation was, that, in time of a great famine at Jerusalem, he had sold some of the Church plate, and precious stuffs, to relieve the wants of the poor. St. Cyril, not looking upon the members of the council as qualified judges, appealed to higher powers, but yielding to violence withdrew to Antioch, and thence removed to Tarsus, where he was honorably entertained by the bishop Sylvanus, and had in great respect, notwithstanding the sentence of Acacius and his council against him. Here living in communion with Sylvanus, Eustathius of Sebaste, Basil of Ancyra and others, who soon after appeared at the head of the Semi-Arian faction, this gave rise to the calumny that St. Cyril himself had espoused it. But nothing could be more falsely alleged against him, he having always maintained the Catholic faith. He had accordingly, in 349, together with his predecessor Maximus, received the decrees of the council of Sardica, and consequently those of Nice. And we have already seen, in his letter to Constantius, that he made an undaunted profession of the Consubstantial Trinity. To which we may add, that in the council of Constantinople, in 381, he joined with the other bishops in condemning the Semi-Arians and Macedonians. And the orthodox bishops assembled in the same city in 382, writing to pope Damasus and to the western bishops, gave a most ample testimony to his faith, declaring, "That the most reverend and beloved of God, Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, had been canonically elected by the bishops of the province, and had suffered many persecutions for the faith." Upon the death of Constantius, in 361, Julian the apostate, partly, out of aversion to his uncle, and partly in hopes to see the Christian sects. and the orthodox more at variance, suffered all the banished bishops to return. to their churches. Thus did God make use of the malice of his enemy to restore St. Cyril to his see. He shortly after made him an eye-witness to the miraculous manifestation of his power, by which he covered his blaspheming enemies with confusion. The following most authentic history of that remarkable event is gathered from the original records, and vindicated against the exceptions of certain skeptics by Tillemont, and by our most learned Mr. Warburton, in his Julian.
In vain had the most furious tyrants exerted the utmost cruelty, and bent the whole power which the empire of the world put into their hands, to extirpate, if it had been possible, the Christian name. The faith. increased under axes, and the blood of martyrs was a fruitful seed, which multiplied the Church over all nations. The experience how weak and ineffectual a means brute force was to this purpose, moved the emperor Julian, the most implacable, the most crafty, and the most dangerous instrument which the devil ever employed in that design, to shift his ground, and change his artillery and manner of assault. He affected a show of great moderation, and in words disclaimed open persecution; but he sought by every foul and indirect means to undermine the faith, and sap the foundations of the Christian religion. For this purpose he had recourse to every base art of falsehood and dissimulation, in which he was the most complete master. He had played off the round of his machines to no purpose, and seemed reduced to this last expedient of the pacific kind, the discrediting the Christian religion by bringing the scandal of imposture upon its divine author. This he attempted to do by a project of rebuilding the Jewish temple. which, if he could have compassed, it would have sufficiently answered his wicked design; Christ and the prophet Daniel having in express terms foretold not only its destruction, which was effected by the Romans under Titus, but its final ruin and desolation.
The religious Jewish religion was a temporary dispensation, intended by its divine author, God himself, to prefigure one more complete and perfect, and prepare men to embrace it. It not only essentially required bloody sacrifices, hut enjoined a fixed and certain place for them to be performed in; this was the temple at Jerusalem. Hence the final destruction of this temple was he abolition of the sacrifices, which annihilated the whole system of this religious institution. Whence St. Chrysostom shows that the destruction of Jerusalem is to be ascribed, not to the power of the Romans, for God had often delivered it from no less dangers; but to a special providence which was pleased to put it out of the power of human perversity to delay or respite the extinction of those ceremonial observances. "As a physician," says that father, "by breaking the cup, prevents his patient from indulging his appetite in a noxious draught; so God withheld the Jews from their sacrifices by destroying the whole city itself, and making the place inaccessible to all of them." St. Gregory Nazianzen, Socrates, Theodoret, and other Christian writers, are unanimous in what they say of Julian's motive, ascribing to him the intention already mentioned, of falsifying the scripture prophecies, those of Daniel and Christ, which his actions sufficiently evidence. His historian, indeed, says, that he undertook this work out of a desire of rendering the glory of his reign immortal by so great an achievement: but this was only an after-thought or secondary motive; and Sozomen in particular assures us that not only Julian, but that the idolaters who assisted in it, pushed it forward upon that very motive, and for the sake thereof suspended their aversion to the Jewish nation. Julian himself wrote a letter to the body or community of the Jews, extant among his works, mentioned by Sozomen, and translated by Dr. Cave, in his life of St. Cyril. In it he declares them free from all exactions and taxes, and orders Julus or Illus, (probably Hillel,) their most reverend patriarch, to abolish the apostoli, or gatherers of the said taxes; begs their prayers, (such was his hypocrisy,) and promises, after his Persian expedition, when their temple should be rebuilt, to make Jerusalem his residence, and to offer up his joint prayers together with them.
After this he assembled the chief among the Jews, and asked them why they offered no bloody sacrifices, since they were prescribed by their law. They replied, that they could not offer any but in the temple, which then lay in ruins.. Whereupon he commanded them to repair to Jerusalem, rebuild their temple, and re-establish their ancient worship, promising them his concurrence towards carrying on the work. The Jews received the warrant with inexpressible joy, and were so elated with it, that, flocking from all parts to Jerusalem, they began insolently to scorn and triumph over the Christians, threatening to make them feel as fatal effects of their severity, as they themselves had heretofore from the Roman powers. The news was, no sooner spread abroad than contributions came in from all hands. The Jewish women stripped themselves of their most costly ornaments to contribute towards the expense of the building. The emperor also, who was no less impatient to see it finished, in order to encourage them in the undertaking, told them he had found in their mysterious sacred books that this was the time in which they were to return to their country, and that their temple and legal observances were to be restored. He gave orders to his treasurers to furnish money and every thing necessary for the building, which would require immense sums: he drew together the most able workmen from all quarters, and appointed for overseers persons of the highest rank, placing at their head his intimate friend Alypius, who had formerly been Pro-prefect of Britain; charging him to make them labor in this great work without ceasing, and to spare no expense. All things were In readiness, workmen were assembled from all quarters; stone, brick, timber, and other materials, in immense quantities, were laid in. The Jews of both sexes and of all degrees bore a share in the labor; the very women helping to dig the ground and carry out the rubbish in their aprons and skirts of their gowns. It its even said that the Jews appointed some pickaxes, spades, and baskets to be made of silver for the honor of the work. But the good bishop St. Cyril, lately returned from exile, beheld all these mighty preparations without any concern, relying on the infallible truth of the scripture prophecies: as, that the .desolation of the Jewish temple should last till the end; and that one stone should not be left on another; and being full of the spirit of God, he foretold, with the greatest confidence, that the Jews, so far from being able to rebuild their ruined temple, would be the instruments whereby that prophecy of Christ would be still more fully accomplished than it had been hitherto, and that they would not be able to put one stone upon another, and the event justified the prediction.
Till then the foundations and some ruins of the walls of the temple subsisted, as appears from St. Cyril: and Eusebius says, the inhabitants still carried away the stones for their private buildings. These ruins the Jews first demolished with their own hands, thus concurring to the accomplishment of our Saviour's prediction. Then they began to dig the new foundation, in which work many thousands were employed. But what they had thrown up in the day was, by repeated earthquakes, the night following cast back again into the trench. "And when Alypius the next day earnestly pressed on the work, with the assistance of the governor of the province, there issued," says Ammianus, "'such horrible balls of fire out of the earth near the foundations,' which rendered the place, from time to time, inaccessible to the scorched and blasted workmen. And the victorious element continuing in this manner obstinately and resolutely bent as it were to drive them to a distance, Alypius thought proper to give over the enterprise."
This is also recorded by the Christian authors, who, besides the earthquake and fiery eruption, mention storms, tempests, and whirlwinds, lightning, crosses impressed on the bodies and garments of the assistants, and a flaming cross in the heavens, surrounded with a luminous circle. The order whereof seems to have been as follows. This judgment of the Almighty was ushered in by storms and whirlwinds, by which prodigious heaps of lime and sand and other loose materials were carried away. After these followed lightning, the usual consequence of collision of clouds in tempests. Its effects were, first the destroying the more solid materials, and melting down the iron instruments; and secondly, the impressing shining crosses on the bodies and garments of the assistants without distinction, in which there was something that in art and elegance exceeded all painting or embroidery; which when the infidels perceived, they endeavored, but in vain, to wash them out. In the third place came the earthquake which cast out the stones of the old foundations, and shook the earth into the trench or cavity dug for the new; besides overthrowing the adjoining buildings and porticoes wherein were lodged great numbers of Jews designed for the work, who were all either crushed to death, or at least maimed or wounded. The number of the killed or hurt was increased by the fiery eruption in the fourth place, attended both with storms and tempests above, and with an earthquake below. From this eruption, many fled to a neighboring church for shelter, but could not obtain entrance; whether on account of its being closed by a secret invisible hand, as the fathers state the case, or at least by a special providence, through the entrance into the oratory being choked up by a frighted crowd, all pressing to be foremost. "This, however," says St. Gregory Nazianzen, "is invariably affirmed and believed by all, that as they strove to force their way in by violence, the <Fire>, which burst from the foundations of the temple, met and stopped them, and one part it burnt and destroyed, and another it desperately maimed, leaving them a living monument of God's commination and wrath against sinners." This eruption was frequently renewed till it overcame the rashness of the most obdurate, to use the words of Socrates; for it continued to be repeated as often as the projectors ventured to renew their attempt, till it had fairly tired them out. Lastly, on the same evening, there appeared over Jerusalem a lucid cross, shining very bright, as large as that in the reign of Constantine, encompassed with a circle of light. "And what could be so proper to close this tremendous scene, or to celebrate this decisive victory, as the <Cross> triumphant, encircled with the <Heroic> symbol of conquest?"
This miraculous event, with all its circumstances, is related by the writers of that age; by St. Gregory Nazianzen in the year immediately following it; by St. Chrysostom, in several parts of his works, who says that it happened not twenty years before, appeals to eye-witnesses still living and young, and to the present condition of those foundations, "of which," says he, "we are all witnesses;" by St. Ambrose in his fortieth epistle written in 388; Rufinus, who had long lived upon the spot; Theodoret, who lived in the neighborhood in Syria; Philostorgius, the Arian; Sozomen, who says many were alive when he wrote who had it from eye-witnesses, and mentions the visible marks still subsisting; Socrates, &c. The testimony of the heathens corroborates this evidence; as that of Ammianus Marcellinus above quoted, a nobleman of the first rank, who then lived in the court of Julian at Antioch and in an office of distinction, and who probably wrote his account from the letter of Alypius to his master at the time when the miracle happened. Libanius, another pagan friend and admirer of Julian, both in the history of his own life, and in his funeral oration on Julian's death, mentions these earthquakes in Palestine, but with a shyness which discovers the disgrace of his hero and superstition. Julian himself speaks of this event in the same covert manner. Socrates testifies, that at the sight of the miracles, the Jews at first cried out that Christ is God; yet returned home as hardened as ever. St. Gregory Nazianzen says, that many Gentiles were converted upon it, and went over to the Church. Theodoret and Sozomen say many were converted; but as to the Jews, they evidently mean a sudden flash of conviction, not a real and lasting conversion. The incredulous blinded themselves by various presences: but the evidence of the miracle leaves no room for the least cavil or suspicion. The Christian writers of that age are unanimous in relating it with its complicated circumstances, yet with a diversity which shows their agreement, though perfect, could not have been concerted. The same is confirmed by the testimony of the most obstinate adversaries. They who, when the temple at Daphne was consumed about the same time, by lightning, pretended that it was set on fire by Christians, were not able to suspect any possibility of contrivance in this case: nor could the event have been natural. Every such suspicion is removed by the conformity of the event with the prophecies: the importance of the occasion, the extreme eagerness of Jews and Gentiles in the enterprise, the attention of the whole empire fixed on it, and the circumstances of the fact. The eruption, contrary to its usual nature, was confined to one small spot; it obstinately broke out by fits, and ceased with the project, and this in such a manner, that Ammianus himself ascribes it to an intelligent cause. The phenomena of the cross in the air, and on the garments, were admirably fitted, as moral emblems, to proclaim the triumph of Christ over Julian, who had taken the cross out of the military ensigns, which Constantine had put there to be a lasting memorial of that cross which he had seen in the air that presaged his victories. The same was again erected in the heavens to confound the vanity of its impotent persecutor. The earthquake was undoubtedly miraculous; and though its effects were mostly such as might naturally follow, they were directed by a special supernatural providence, as the burning of Sodom by fire from heaven. Whence Mr. Warburton concludes his dissertation on this subject with the following corollary. "New light continually springing up from each circumstance as it passes in review, by such time as the whole event is considered, this illustrious miracle comes out in one full blaze of evidence." Even Jewish Rabbins, who do not copy from Christian writers, relate this event in the same manlier with the fathers from their own traditions and records. This great event happened in the beginning of the year 363. St. Chrysostom admires the wonderful conduct of divine providence in this prodigy, and observes, that had not the Jews set about to rebuild their temple, they might have pretended they could have done it: therefore did God permit them thrice to attempt it; once under Adrian, when they brought a greater desolation upon themselves; a second time under Constantine the Great, who dispersed them, cut off their ears, and branded their bodies with the marks of rebellion. He then relates this third attempt, "in our own time," as he says, "not above twenty years ago, in which God himself visibly baffled their endeavors, to show that no human power could reverse his decree; and this at a time when our religion was oppressed, lay under the axes, and had not the liberty even to speak; that impudence itself might not have the least shadow of presence."
St. Cyril adored the divine power in this miracle, of which he had ocular demonstration. Orosius says that Julian had destined him to slaughter after his Persian expedition, but the death of the tyrant prevented his martyrdom. He was again driven from his see by the Arian emperor, Valens, in 367, but recovered it in 378, when Gratian, mounting the throne, commanded the churches to be restored to those who were in communion with pope Damasus. He found his flock miserably divided by heresies and schisms under the late wolves to whom they had fallen a prey; but he continued his labors and tears among them. In 381 he assisted at the general council of Constantinople, in which he condemned the Semi-Arians and Macedonians whose heresy he had always opposed, though he had sometimes joined their prelates against the Arians St. before their separation from the church, as we have seen above; and as St. Hilary, St. Meletius, and many others had done. He had governed his church eight years in peace from the death of Valens, when, in 386, he passed to a glorious immortality, in the seventieth year of his age. He is honored by the Greeks and Latins on this day, which was that of his death.
1 Cat. 5. 10.14.
2 See Fleury, Moeurs des Chretiens, p. 42.
3 B. 2, c. 28.
4 Ib. 3, c. 26.
5 Ib. 5, c. 5.
6 Ad an. 363.
7 Annal. p. 475.
8 Auetuar. Combefis, t. 2, p. 382.
9 T.2, p. 344.
10 Sozom. b. 4, c. 24.
11 Apud Theod. Hist. b. 5, c. 9.
12 Tillem. t. 7, p. 409,
13 Hom. 6, adv. Judae t. 1 p. 646 ed. Ben.
14 Amm. Marcell. l. 3, c. 1.
15 Ep. 25, p. 152.
16 Soz. 1.5, c. 22.
17 Naz. Or. 4, adv. Julian.
18 Dan. ix. 27.
19 Matt. xxiv. 2.
20 Rufin Hist. l. 10, c 37.
21 Catech. 15. n. 15.
22 Dem. Evang.. 1. 8. p. 406.
23 Out of the very foundations themselves, according to St. Chrysostom, Sozomen, and Theodoret.
24 Theod. Hist. l. 3, c. 20.
25 Soc. lib. 3, c. 20.
26 St. Greg. Naz. Or. 9.
27 Or. 4, adv. Julian.
28 see Warburton, p 88.
(Taken from Vol. III of "The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints" by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company)
Provided Courtesy of:
1. EVERY deed of Christ is a cause of glorying to the Catholic Church, but her greatest of all glorying is in the Cross; and knowing this, Paul says, But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of Christ(1). For wondrous indeed it was, that one who was blind from his birth should receive sight in Siloam(2); but what is this compared with the blind of the whole world? A great thing it was, and passing nature, for Lazarus to rise again on the fourth day; but the grace extended to him alone, and what was it compared with the dead in sins throughout the world? marvelous it was, that five loaves should pour forth food for the five thousand; but what is that to those who are famishing in ignorance through all the world? It was marvelous that she should have been loosed who had been bound by Satan eighteen years: yet what is this to all of us, who were fast bound in the chains of our sins? But the glory of the Cross led those who were blind through ignorance into light, loosed all who were held fast by sin, and ransomed the whole world of mankind.
2. And wonder not that the whole world was ransomed; for it was no mere man, but the only-begotten Son of God, who died on its behalf. Moreover one man's sin, even Adam's, had power to bring death to the world; but if by the trespass of the one death reigned over the world, how shall not life much rather reign by the righteousness of the One(3)? And if because of the tree of food they were then east out of paradise, shall not believers now more easily enter into paradise because of the Tree of Jesus? If the first man formed out of the earth brought in universal death, shall not He who formed him out of the earth bring in eternal life, being Himself the Life? If Phinees, when he waxed zealous and slew the evil-doer, staved the wrath of God, shall not Jesus, who slew not another, but gave up Himself for a ransom(4), put away the wrath which is against mankind?
3. Let us then not be ashamed of the Cross of our Saviour, but rather glory in it. For the word of the Cross is unto Jews a stumbling-block, and unto Gentiles foolishness, but to us salvation: and to them that are perishing it is foolishness, but unto us which are being saved it is the power of God(5). For it was not a mere man who died for us, as I said before, but the Son of God, God made man. Further; if the lamb under Moses drove the destroyer(6) far away, did not much rather the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world(7), deliver us from our sins? The blood of a silly sheep gave salvation; and shall not the Blood of the Only-begotten much rather save? If any disbelieve the power of the Crucified, let him ask the devils; if any believe not words, let him believe what he sees. Many have been crucified throughout the world, but by none of these are the devils scared; but when they see even the Sign of the Cross of Christ, who was crucified for us, they shudder(8). For those men died for their own sins, but Christ for the sins of others; for He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth(9). It is not Peter who says this, for then we might suspect that he was partial to his Teacher; but it is Esaias who says it, who was not indeed present with Him in the flesh, but in the Spirit foresaw His coming in the flesh. Yet why now bring the Prophet only as a witness? take for a witness Pilate himself, who gave sentence upon Him, saying, I find no fault in this Man(1): and when he gave Him up, and had washed his hands, he said, I am innocent of the blood of this just person(2). There is yet another witness of the sinlessness of Jesus,--the robber, the first man admitted into Paradise; who rebuked his fellow, and said, "We receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss(3); for we were present, both thou and I, at His judgment."
4. Jesus then really suffered for all men; for the Cross was no illusion(4), otherwise our redemption is an illusion also. His death was not a mere show(5), for then is our salvation also fabulous. If His death was but a show, they were true who said, We remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After three days I rise again(6). His Passion then was real: for He was really crucified, and we are not ashamed thereat; He was crucified, and we deny it not, nay, I rather glory to speak of it. For though I should now deny it, here is Golgotha to confute me, near which we are now assembled; the wood of the Cross confutes me, which was afterwards distributed piecemeal from hence to all the world(7). I confess the Cross, because I know of the Resurrection; for if, after being crucified, He had remained as He was, I had not perchance confessed it, for I might have concealed both it and my Master; but now that the Resurrection has followed the Cross, I am not ashamed to declare it.
5. Being then in the flesh like others, He was crucified, but not for the like sins. For He was not led to death for covetousness, since He was a Teacher of poverty; nor was He condemned for concupiscence, for He Himself says plainly, Whosoever shall look upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already(8); not for smiting or striking hastily, for He turned the other cheek also to the stutter: not for despising the Law, for He was the fulfiller of the Law; not for reviling a prophet, for it was Himself who was proclaimed by the Prophets; not for defrauding any of their hire, for He ministered without reward and freely; not for sinning in words, or deeds, or thoughts, He who did no sins, neither was ,guile found in His mouth; who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when Re suffered, threatened not(9); who came to His passion, not unwillingly, but willing; yea, if any dissuading Him say even now, Be it far from Thee, Lord, He will say again, Get thee behind Me, Satan(1).
6. And wouldest thou be persuaded that He came to His passion willingly? others, who foreknow it not, die unwillingly; but He spoke before of His passion: Behold, the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified(2). But knowest thou wherefore this Friend of man shunned not death? It was lest the whole world should perish in its sins. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed, and shall be crucified(3); and again, He steadfastly set His face to Jerusalem(4). And wouldest thou know certainly, that the Cross is a glory to Jesus? Hear His own words, not mine. Judas had become ungrateful to the Master of the house, and was about to betray Him. Having but just now gone forth from the table, and drunk His cup of blessing, in return for that drought of salvation he sought to shed righteous blood. He who did eat of His bread, was lifting up his heel against Him(5); his hands were but lately receiving the blessed gifts(6), and presently for the wages of betrayal he was plotting His death. And being reproved, and having heard that word, Thou hast said(7), he again went out: then said Jesus, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified(8). Seest thou how He knew the Cross to be His proper glory? What then, is Esaias not ashamed of being sawn asunder(9), and shall Christ be ashamed of dying for the world? Now is the Son of man glorified(1). Not that He was without glory before: for He was glorified with the glory which was before the foundation of the world(2). He was ever glorified as God; but now He was to be glorified in wearing the Crown of His patience. He gave not up His life by compulsion, nor was He put to death by murderous violence, but of His own accord. Hear what He says: I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again(3): I yield it of My own choice to My enemies; for unless I chose, this could not be. He came therefore of His own set purpose to His passion, rejoicing in His noble deed, smiling at the crown, cheered by the salvation of mankind; not ashamed of the Cross, for it was to save the world. For it was no common man who suffered, but God in man's nature, striving for the prize of His patience.
36. Let us not then be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the Cross our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow, and on everything; over the bread we eat, and the cups we drink; in our comings in, and goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we rise up; when we are in the way, and when we are still(6). Great is that preservative; it is without price, for the sake of the poor; without toil, for the sick; since also its grace is from God. It is the Sign of the faithful, and the dread of devils: for He triumphed over them in it, having made a shew of them openly(7); for when they see the Cross they are reminded of the Crucified; they are afraid of Him, who bruised the heads of the dragon(8). Despise not the Seal, because of the freeness of the gift; out for this the rather honour thy Benefactor.
37. And if thou ever fall into disputation and hast not the grounds of proof, yet let Faith remain firm in thee; or rather, become thou well learned, and then silence the Jews out of the prophets, and the Greeks out of their own fables. They themselves worship men who have been thunderstricken(9) but the thunder when it comes from heaven, comes not at random. If they are not ashamed to worship men thunderstricken and abhorred of God, art thou ashamed to worship the beloved Son of God, who was crucified for thee? I am ashamed to tell the tales about their so-called Gods, and I leave them because of time; let those who know, speak. And let all heretics also be silenced. If any say that the Cross is an illusion, turn away from him. Abhor those who say that Christ was crucified to our fancy(1) only; for if so, and if salvation is from the Cross, then is salvation a fancy also. If the Cross is fancy, the Resurrection is fancy also; but if Christ be not risen, we are yet in our sins(2). If the Cross is fancy, the Ascension also is fancy; and if the Ascension is fancy, then is the second coming also fancy, and everything is henceforth unsubstantial.
38. Take therefore first, as an indestructible foundation, the Cross, and build upon it the other articles of the faith. Deny not the Crucified; for, if thou deny Him, thou hast many to arraign thee. Judas the traitor will arraign thee first; for he who betrayed Him knows that He was condemned to death by the chief-priests and elders. The thirty pieces of silver bear witness; Gethsemane bears witness, where the betrayal occurred; I speak not yet of the Mount of Olives, on which they were with Him at night, praying. The moon in the night bears witness; the day bears witness, and the sun which was darkened; for it endured not to look on the crime of the conspirators. The fire will arraign thee, by which Peter stood and warmed himself; if thou deny the Cross, the eternal fire awaits thee. I speak hard words, that thou may not experience hard pains. Remember the swords that came against Him in Gethsemane, that thou feel not the eternal sword. The house of Caiaphas(3) will arraign thee, shewing by its present desolation the power of Him who was erewhile judged there. Yea, Caiaphas himself will rise up against thee in the day of judgment, the very servant will rise up against thee, who smote Jesus with the palm of his hand; they also who bound Him, and they who led Him away. Even Herod shall rise up against thee; and Pilate; as if saying, Why deniest thou Him who was slandered before us by the Jews, and whom we knew to have done no wrong? For I Pilate then washed my hands. The false witnesses shall rise up against thee, and the soldiers who arrayed Him in the purple robe, and set on Him the crown of thorns, and crucified Him in Golgotha, and cast lots for His coat. Simon the Cyrenian will cry out upon thee, who bore the Cross after Jesus.
39. From among the stars there will cry out upon thee, the darkened Sun; among the things upon earth, the Wine mingled with myrrh; among reeds, the Reed; among herbs, the Hyssop; among the things of the sea, the Sponge; among trees, the Wood of the Cross;--the soldiers, too, as I have said, who nailed Him, and cast lots for His vesture; the soldier who pierced His side with the spear; the women who then were present; the veil of the temple then rent asunder; the hall of Pilate, now laid waste by the power of Him who was then crucified; this holy Golgotha, which stands high above us, and shews itself to this day, and displays even yet how because of Christ the rocks were then riven(4); the sepulchre nigh at hand where He was laid; and the stone which was laid on the door, which lies to this day by the tomb; the Angels who were then present; the women who worshipped Him after His resurrection; Peter and John, who ran to the sepulchre; and Thomas, who thrust his hand into His side, and his fingers into the prints of the nails. For it was for our sakes that he so carefully handled Him; and what thou, who wert not there present, wouldest have sought, he being present, by God's Providence, did seek.
40. Thou hast Twelve Apostles, witnesses of the Cross; and the whole earth, and the world of men who believe on Him who hung thereon. Let thy very presence here now persuade thee of the power of the Crucified. For who now brought thee to this assembly? what soldiers? With what bonds wast thou constrained? What sentence held thee fast here now? Nay, it was the Trophy of salvation, the Cross of Jesus that brought you all together. It was this that enslaved the Persians, and tamed the Scythians; this that gave to the Egyptians, for cats and dogs and their manifold errors, the knowledge of God; this, that to this day heals diseases; that to this day drives away devils, and overthrows the juggleries of drugs and charms.
This item 103 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org
March 18, 2005
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Problems in the Church today are minor compared with the reverberations of the Arian heresy that denied the divinity of Christ. Cyril was to be caught up in the controversy, accused (later) of Arianism by St. Jerome, 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. 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].
BTTT on the Optional Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, March 18, 2006!
St. Cyril pray for us!
Cyril of Jerusalem, 315-387. Doctor of Faith and Against Heresy, Feast March 18th.
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem,
Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Since Christ Himself has said, "This is My Body" who shall dare to doubt that It is His Body? -- Saint Cyril of Jerusalem
St. Cyril of Jerusalem was Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church. He was born about 315; died probably March 18, 386. In the East his feast is observed on the 18th of March, in the West on the 18th or 20th. Little is known of his life. We gather information concerning him from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. Cyril himself gives us the date of his "Catecheses" as fully seventy years after the Emperor Probus, that is about 347, if he is exact. Constans (d. 350) was then still alive. Mader thinks Cyril was already bishop, but it is usually held that he was at this date only as a priest. St. Jerome relates (Chron. ad ann. 352) that Cyril had been ordained priest by St. Maximus, his predecessor, after whose death the episcopate was promised to Cyril by the metropolitan, Acacius of Caesarea, and the other Arian bishops, on condition that he should repudiate the ordination he had received from Maximus. He consented to minister as deacon only, and was rewarded for this impiety with the see. Maximus had consecrated Heraclius to succeed himself, but Cyril, by various frauds, degraded Heraclius to the priesthood. So says St. Jerome; but Socrates relates that Acacius drove out St. Maximus and substituted St. Cyril. A quarrel soon broke out between Cyril and Acacius, apparently on a question of precedence or jurisdiction. At Nicaea the metropolitan rights of Caesarea had been guarded, while a special dignity had been granted to Jerusalem. Yet St. Maximus had held a synod and had ordained bishops. This may have been as much as the cause of Acacius' enmity to him as his attachment to the Nicene formula. On the other hand, Cyril's correct Christology may have been the real though veiled ground of the hostility of Acacius to him. At all events, in 357 Acacius caused Cyril to be exiled on the charge of selling church furniture during a famine. Cyril took refuge with Silvanus, Bishop of Taraus. He appeared at the Council of Seleucia in 359, in which the Semi-Arian party was triumphant. Acacius was deposed and St. Cyril seems to have returned to his see. But the emperor was displeased at the turn of events, and, in 360, Cyril and other moderates were again driven out, and only returned at the accession of Julian in 361. In 367 a decree of Valens banished all the bishops who had been restored by Julian, and Cyril remained in exile until the death of the persecutor in 378. In 380, St. Gregory of Nyssa came to Jerusalem on the recommendation of a council held at Antioch in the preceding year. He found the Faith in accord with the truth, but the city a prey to parties and corrupt in morals. St. Cyril attended the great Council of Constantinople in 381, at which Theodosius had ordered the Nicene faith, now a law of the empire, to be promulgated. St. Cyril then formally accepted the homoousion; Socrates and Sozomen call this an act of repentance. Socrates gives 385 for St. Cyril's death, but St. Jerome tells us that St. Cyril lived eight years under Theodosius, that is, from January 379.
The extant works of St. Cyril of Jerusalem include a sermon on the Pool of Bethesda, a letter to the Emperor Constantius, three small fragments, and the famous "Catecheses". The letter describes a wonderful cross of light, extending from Calvary to the Mount of Olives, which appeared in the air on the nones of May, after Pentecost, toward the beginning of the saint's episcopate. The catechetical lectures are among the most precious remains of Christian antiquity. The include an introductory address, eighteen instructions delivered in Lent to those who were preparing for baptism, and five "mystagogical" instructions given during Easter week to the same persons after their baptism. They contain interesting local references as to the finding of the Cross, the position of Calvary in relation to the walls, to the other holy places, and to the great basilica built by Constantine in which these conferences were delivered. They seem to have been spoken extempore, and written down afterwards. The style is admirably clear, dignified, and logical; the tone is serious and full of piety. The subject is thus divided: 1. Hortatory. 2. On sin, and confidence in God's pardon. 3. On baptism, how water receives the power of sanctifying: as it cleanses the body, so the Spirit seals the soul. 4. An abridged account of the Faith. 5. On the nature of faith. 6-18. On the Creed: 6. On the monarchy of God, and the various heresies which deny it. 7. On the Father. 8. His omnipotence. 9. The Creator. 10. On the Lord Jesus Christ. 11. His Eternal Sonship. 12. His virgin birth. 13. His Passion. 14. His Resurrection and Ascension. 15. His second coming. 16-17 On the Holy Ghost. 18. On the resurrection of the body and the Catholic Church. The first mystagogical catechesis explains the renunciations of Satan, etc. which preceded baptism; the second is on the effects of baptism, the third on confirmation, the fourth on Holy Communion, and the fifth on holy Mass for the living and the dead. The hearers are told to observe the disciplina arcani; Rom. they must repeat nothing to heathens and catechumens; the book also has a note to the same effect.
A few points may be noted. The mythical origin of the Septuagint is told, and the story of the phoenix, so popular from Clement onwards. The description of Mass speaks of the mystical washing of the priest's hands, the kiss of peace, the "Sursum Corda", etc., and the Preface with its mention of the angels, the Sanctus, the Epiclesis, the transmutation of the elements by the Holy Ghost, the prayer for the whole Church and for the spirits of the departed, followed by the Paternoster, which is briefly explained. Then come the "Sancta Sanctis" and the Communion. "Approaching do not come with thy palms stretched flat nor with fingers separated. But making thy left hand a seat for thy right, and hollowing thy palm, receive the Body of Christ, responding Amen. And having with care hallowed thine eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, take it, vigilant lest thou drop any of it. For shouldst thou lose any of it, it is as though thou wast deprived of a member of thy own body." "Then after Communion of the Body of Christ, approach the Chalice of His Blood, not extending thy hands, but bending low, and with adoration and reverence saying Amen, sanctify thyself by receiving also the Blood of Christ. And while thy lips are yet wet, touch them with thy hands, and sanctify thy eyes and thy forehead and thy other senses" (Cat. Myst., v, 22, 21-22). We are to make the sign of the cross when we eat and drink, sit, go to bed, get up, talk, walk, in short, in every action (Cat. iv, 14). Again: "if thou should be in foreign cities, do not simply ask where is the church (kyriakon), for the heresies of the impious try to call their caves kyriaka, nor simply where is the Church (ekklesia), but where is the Catholic Church, for this is the proper name of this holy Mother of all" (Cat. xviii, 26).
St. Cyril's doctrine is expressed in his creed, which seems to have run thus:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten by the Father true God before all ages, God of God, Life of Life, Light of Light, by Whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary, and was made man. He was crucified . . . and buried. He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and sat at the right hand of the Father. And He cometh in glory to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And in one Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, Who spake by the prophets; and in one baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, and in one holy Catholic Church, and in the resurrection of the body, and in life everlasting.
The italicized words are uncertain. St. Cyril teaches the Divinity of the Son with perfect plainness, but avoids the word "consubstantial", which he probably thought liable to misunderstanding. He never mentions Arianism, though he denounces the Arian formula, "There was a time when the Son was not". He belonged to the Semi-Arian, or Homoean party, and is content to declare that the Son is "in all things like the Father". He communicated freely with bishops such a Basil of Ancyra and Eustathius of Sebaste. He not only does not explain that the Holy Trinity has one Godhead, but he does not even say the Three Persons are one God. The one God for him is always the Father. "There is one God, the Father of Christ, and one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the only God, and one Holy Ghost, Who sanctifies and deifies all things" (Cat. iv, 16). But he rightly says: "We do not divide the Holy Trinity as some do, neither do we make a melting into one like Sabellius" (Cat. xvi, 4). Cyril never actually calls the Holy Ghost God, but He is to be honoured together with the Father and the Son (Cat. iv, 16). There is therefore nothing incorrect in his doctrine, only the explicit use of the Nicene formulae is wanting, and these, like St. Meletius and others of his party, he fully accepted at a later date.
St. Cyril's teaching about the Blessed Sacrament is of the first importance, for he was speaking freely, untrammelled by the "discipline of the secret". On the Real Presence he is unambiguous: "Since He Himself has declared and said of the bread: This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any more? And when He asserts and says: This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate and say it is not His Blood?" Of the Transformation, he argues, if Christ could change water into wine, can He not change wine into His own Blood? The bread and wine are symbols: "In the type of bread is given thee the Body, in the type of wine the Blood is given thee"; but they do not remain in their original condition, they have been changed, though the senses cannot tell us this: "Do not think it mere bread and wine, for it is the Body and Blood of Christ, according to the Lord's declaration". "Having learned this and being assured of it, that appears to be bread is not bread, though perceived by the taste, but the Body of Christ, and what appears to be wine is not wine, though the taste says so, but the Blood of Christ . . . strengthen thy heart, partaking of it as spiritual (food), and rejoice the face of thy soul". It is difficult not to see the whole doctrine of Transubstantiation in these explicit words.
Confirmation is with blessed chrism: "As the bread of the Eucharist after the invocation of the Holy Ghost is not bread, but the Body of Christ, so this holy myrrh is no longer simple, as one might say, after the invocation, but a gift of Christ and capable by the presence of the Holy Ghost of giving His divinity" (ii, 4). St. Peter and St. Paul went to Rome, the heads (prostatai) of the Church. Peter is ho koryphaiotatos kai protostates ton apostolon. The Faith is to be proved out of Holy Scripture. St. Cyril, as the Greek Fathers generally, gives the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament omitting the deutero-canonical books. But yet he often quotes them as Scripture. In the New Testament he does not acknowledge the Apocalypse.
There have been many editions of St. Cyril's works:--(Vienna, 1560); G. Morel (Paris, 1564); J. Prévot (Paris, 1608); T. Milles (London, 1703); the Benedictine edition of Dom Touttée (Paris, 1720; reprinted at Venice, 1763); a new edition from manuscripts, by G.C. Reischl, 8vo (Munich, 1848; 2nd vol. by J. Rupp, 1860); Migne gives the Bened. ed. in P.G., XXXIII; Photius Alexandrides (2 vols., Jerusalem, 1867-8); Eng. tr. in Library of the Fathers (Oxford).
(Principal source - Catholic Encyclopedia - 1913 edition)
through Cyril of Jerusalem
You led Your Church to a deeper understanding
of the mysteries of salvation.
Let his prayers help us to know Your Son better
and to have eternal life in all its fullness.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.
First Reading: 1 John 5:1-5
Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Gospel Reading: John 15:1-8
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of Mine that bears no fruit, He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
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