St Cyril of Alexandria, 376-444. Doctor of the Incarnation, Feast June 27th.
The title of Saint Cyril, Doctor of the Incarnation, may sound odd. Incredible as it may seem, the Incarnation means that the eternal God was born in time through a Virgin. The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. This occurred about 2000 years ago at an event call the Annunciation. Jesus today becomes flesh again and again in human beings to remain with us through mystery.
Listen to this quote from Cyril and reflect: "Because the Son is God from God, in some mysterious way he passes this honor on to us." Believe it or not, we become God by participation, not by nature.
Jesus told us that we are gods and He was quoting Scripture when He said so.
The Annunciation was a happening in which God's promise was fulfilled. Christians believe that Christ is alive today in flesh when we act charitable. God became Flesh yesterday because the Almighty wanted to redeem all human flesh. He is Flesh today to sanctify us through divine gifts. He is Flesh in the future because He who was dead is now alive and He lives forever Body and Spirit.
We become what we believe in mystery. Cyril was most instrumental in formulating information about this faith. The Flesh of Jesus Christ, the Man-God, and born in time from His Mother, was also uncreated from eternity with the Father and Spirit.
The Incarnation resulted from an event between Mary and one of God's messengers. This event, although it happened a long time ago, is tremendously beautiful to Christians. Devout believers commemorate this event three times each day through the simple, yet elegant, Angelus Prayer. The Franciscans, I believe, introduced the practice of reciting the Hail Mary in honor of the Incarnation in 1263. It consists of three Hail Marys and commemorates the Angel Gabriel coming to ask Mary if she would be the Mother of God. When Mary said yes, the eternal Word entered into our world of time. As a Human Being in the womb of the Virgin He was subject to the laws of nature and God.
The reason this prayer has been perpetuated so faithfully for so long by Christians is because it contains a message and meaning that is vitally important and powerful throughout history. This event changed the entire course of civilization. Cyril had a major role in expressing that history. This meeting, between an unknown Jewish girl, Mary, and the Archangel, Gabriel, is really not only a request by God to Mary. It is also a request by God to all creatures through Mary to share in a profound mystery and blessing. This happening is a mystery beyond all mysteries. It is too profound to be understood clearly and too good to be appreciated fully. The best way to respond to it is to believe and practice it wholeheartedly.
Thanks to Cyril, Christians and especially Catholics, owe immense gratitude. The Church maintains primarily through St Cyril and the forefathers of the Church that our ancient, Catholic faith has as its foundation that Jesus Christ is both in His human and divine nature truly God. Thus, not only by reason of Mary's birth of Jesus is she truly the Mother of God. Strange as it may sound, Mary is the Mother of God by reason of Jesus' divine nature and her giving birth.
Exactly as one mother-to-be accepted for all humankind, one messenger from God was instrumental in announcing that all humankind would receive a loving Messiah, as promised by God. God is ever faithful. All the messages and words in the gospels that the Messiah imparts to us enable us to be faithful to God if we believe.
As Mary, we too can say yes to all that God requests. As Mary had Gabriel in a special manner at the right time, we too, are told by the Divine Messenger, Jesus, that we have an angel that always sees the face of Our Father. Our angel is exclusively ours as Gabriel was exclusively for Mary. Although angelic occurrences are recorded in the Old Testament, this encounter and happening with Mary is by far the most important, single, beginning event of our faith.
Our faithfulness in responding to God's Will enables us to appreciate and cherish our faith. We can respond to that faith as Mary did. Although this is a very important message, we must not think that God speaks only once. God, through many sources including our angel, is always communicating messages as Gabriel was constantly guiding Mary. We do not know exactly how God communicates with people but often it is interiorly and not visibly except in rare instances.
St Cyril's major role was to help establish Mary as the Mother of God through his writings, life and influence. Mary's roles in the Church now has been firmly established and her Motherhood and Queenship for all humanity are worldwide both from a traditional and doctrinal aspect. The Doctor of the Incarnation would be pleased to know that among our state's devotional titles to Mary are Massachusetts, which is called Our Lady of the Incarnation, Texas, which is, called Our Lady of the Annunciation and Kentucky which is called Mother of God. However, each state has a devotional title for Mary. You will find this information at the end of this page .
Cyril may be the most controversial among the doctors. He certainly was the most disliked and perhaps hated, as St Bernard, among the Jews, because of his harsh treatment toward them, even though he had the best of intentions.
There is never any justification for violence. Our wounded human nature attempts to justify our violence through holy causes or sacred missions. Original sin is powerfully lethal because it is blind, ignorant and parades as virtuous and victorious. St Mary, alone, our sister escaped this curse because of God's intention of having our Redeemer born through His Virgin Queen and Mother.
This most passionate and devoted defender of Mary, perhaps more than any other doctor, has been characterized as ruthless. However, many reports lack solid evidence and are based on opinions of those who disliked Cyril. The pope of his day called him a good defender of the Catholic faith and a complete pastor.
Let us look at the more noble aspect of Cyril. Any person who prays the Hail Mary ought to be very appreciative to Cyril for the words, "Mother of God". These are probably attributed more to him than any other doctor. This title is so sublime and so misunderstood that faith, alone, can accept it in all of its rich dimensions.
This champion of Mary's Divine Motherhood, throughout his lifetime, made it a rule, never to advance any doctrine, which he had not learned, from the ancient fathers. It was not that he was "hung up" on tradition. He was well read on writers outside the Church-profane writers.
Cyril was amazingly creative and most wondrously open to God's Spirit Who instilled in him the insistence that Jesus had two natures. This idea can not be ascertained by reason but only by faith. These two natures of Jesus Christ are in no way a contradiction.
Furthermore, he held that there is only one person in Christ. To imagine that there are two persons in any individual is not normal, common sense. To state that there are two natures in Jesus Christ is solid supernatural sense. It is a mystery that the stubborn and tenacious Cyril upheld vigorously without exception. The Church defeated the priest-monk Nestorious and its accompanied heresy more because of his erroneous thinking of two distinct persons than because of Cyril's insistence on Christ's two natures which can not be proven logically or rationally.
The importance of condemning the Nestorian heresy which surfaced over this issue and the establishing of Mary's authentic part as "God-bearer" and not only as "Christ-bearer" is central to our faith, enjoyment and our sanctification. At the Council of Ephesus in 431, Cyril favored the title, Theotokos, Mary as God-bearer and it was because of this important foundational understanding that he was declared a doctor of the Church. Cyril paid for his action and words at the Council of Ephesus by being deposed and imprisoned.
He was a great teacher and bishop of Catholicism and he began his Church position as archbishop of Alexandria in Egypt. His principal fame rest upon his defense of Catholic doctrine against Nestorius.
Mary is supremely distinct because she is the Immaculate Conception. However, we must not be shocked that we too are God-bearers as Mary. Through our faith and celebration of the Eucharist, we are given through the Church, the identical Body of Christ when we partake of Holy Communion. It is the same body Mary carried in her womb.
It is perhaps fitting that we celebrate Cyril's feast day very close to the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. How is it that we touch His Flesh so frequently and yet seem unchanged ourselves? We know from Scripture that when Christ was physically touched in His lifetime as we are in Holy Communion, great power escaped or flowed out from Him through the believer's faith. This will encourage us to examine our faith and attitude toward His Body and Blood when we approach the holy table of the Lord.
Perhaps, Cyril is clearly an example of how an impulsive, and often, violently, prone person, as some of us are, can become changed with God's graces and gifts. When we are bruised or beaten down either psychologically or physically, our nature reacts in defense.
Cyril channeled his energies toward a great good and in the process of learning and striving became mellow and surrendered his life to God and admitted his errors. In his misdirected and blinding zeal to keep the Church free from any corruption and intrusion, he overstepped his bounds. He pillaged and closed the churches of heretics, participated in the deposing of other Catholic bishops, confiscated Jewish property and expelled the Jews from Alexandria in retaliation for their attacks on Christians. Who is free from error or sin but Mary?
Christian can never endorse violence in any form but many have used it by being misled or used it for their own purposes although it may appear at the time to be the best recourse. There is never any justification for this but sometime in the heat of battle, most of us have made serious mistakes, done the wrong thing, or worse, sinned.
During this period Cyril was witnessing continual battles. Because of internal corruption and relentless incursion of barbarian armies from the north, the Roman Empire was crumbling. With the last Christian emperor on the way out, and Cyril sensing that, he attempted to rule with an iron hand. He outlawed paganism and punished dissidents unmercifully. There seems to be no doubt that Cyril was treating others the way he was being treated. This never works effectively. It takes heroic virtues and a lifetime to master the gift of being nice to people who are not nice to us. Cyril was attempting to do his own political maneuvering and that seldom works successfully and never in the eyes of God.
Holiness is a blessing and a gift from God. It takes a lifetime, if we are lucky, to get on the same wavelength as the Holy Spirit. It is He who must guide us in each and every detail of our life if we are to be holy. The greater our interaction with people, the greater is our challenge. We are frail human beings as Cyril and we require the correct climate to remain unscathed by ignorance and sin. Our life as Cyril involves a lot of zigzagging.
If Cyril-and that's a big if- had been more patient and diplomatic, the Nestorian Church might not have risen and maintained power so long. But even saints must grow out of immaturity, narrowness and selfishness. It is only by daily battles, trials and life's vicissitudes that we grow in charity, goodness and are purified by God's continually help and mercy. I have used many of Leonard Foley's ideas from his book, Saint of the Day, on this website. He has written beautifully on each doctor.
The following quote is from the New Catholic Encyclopedia and it expresses Cyril's theme. It is also taken from Foley's book. "Only if it is the one and the same Christ who is consubstantial with the Father and with men can He save us for the meeting ground between God and man is the flesh of Christ. Only if this is God's own flesh can man come into contact with Christ's divinity through his humanity. Because of our kinship with the Word made flesh we are sons of God. The Eucharist consummates our kinship with the word, our communion with the Father, our sharing in the divine nature-there is very real contact between our body and that of the Word."
More than Himself, God could not give. Less than Himself, He would not give. We can state that God could not give any less. God gives each person the necessary time to find the Deity and that can be for some a lifetime while for others it is everyday. Merely to receive the Eucharist is a thanksgiving but God calls some to a greater good daily. But, to whom much is given, much shall be required.
In his older age Cyril had become mellowed and wiser. He offered policies of moderation. Despite pressure on his deathbed, he refused to condemn the teachers of Nestorius. Grace had hit its target and Cyril had finally learned from his earlier manner of treating people. If people could do that before they pass over to the other side, they would find peace, comfort and forgiveness even in this short life.
God knows that we all need reconciliation and peace with others and mercy is always bestowed on each of us before we die. That truth is evident in Jesus' own life and it's true with all humanity according to the holy will of God. However, often it is hidden and frequently our humanity can not fathom the unlimited mercy and favors of the Almighty.
The below prayer is a salute to Mary attributed to St Cyril of Alexandria: We salute you, O Mary, Mother of God, treasure of the universe, inextinguishable flame, crown of virginity, scepter of the true Faith, indestructible temple, tabernacle of the One Whom the world cannot contain, and Mother and Virgin. In your virginal womb you enclosed the Immense and Incomprehensible One.
Through you the Trinity is glorified and the Cross is celebrated and adored everywhere on earth. Through you the heavens exult with joy, the Angels and Archangels are glad, demons are put to flight, the demon temptor is cast out of heaven, and our fallen nature has again been assumed into heaven.
It is through you that the only-begotten Son of God, Who is light, shone amid the nations who were seated in darkness and the shadow of death. What human voice can ever worthily celebrate the ineffable greatness of Mary? She is Mother and Virgin at the same time. Through her peace has been restored to the world. What peace? Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom Mary has brought forth!"
Mary's role in God's plan of redemption for the entire human race started from the beginning of time. God knew mankind would fall and that we would need a Redeemer. Had not the angels caused a revolt in heaven? Had not Satan challenged God with his heinous pride and sin of disobedience? God, the Planner, had a back-up plan and God prepared His Mother-to-be and Son though the Immaculate Conception.
We might implore Mary through her able doctor Cyril to correct any acts or intentions against charity. Any transgression against charity is violent-prone despite the minor degree it involves. Can any offense against God be considered minor? As our Lady helped Cyril become transformed against his hostile acts toward the Jews and non-believers, we can be assured that our Lady will guide us to be nice and kind to all those for which the Incarnation was meant-the entire human flesh of the world.
God will also forgive us our trespasses. We, too, have trespassed although we may have had good intentions and may be ignorant of our sins due to weaknesses and spiritual blindness. We become pure only when God purifies us. We see as God only with grace, beatitudes practiced, divine blessings and favors from above.
All the doctors of the Church advocated going to Mary for divine favors. After all, did She not receive the most prized favor of all? The Mariological movement, seminars, conference and literature are superabundant. The Queen of Peace Newspaper in Pittsburgh offers an incredible amount of information on the Holy Mother of God. Their address is 6111 Steubenville Pike, McKees Rocks, PA 15136.
I am very grateful to them for the most fascinating stories about our Catholic faith, saints and tradition. By researching books and the Internet, especially http://www.apparitions.org/ one will discovery Mary down through the ages from 1347 to present day in powerful manifestations especially during this generation. Authors have written abundantly about Mary, our Mother.
The contributions by Cyril toward the Catholic faith and the holy Mother of God have caused the growth of Marian devotion worldwide. He affirmed Mary's role as Mediatrix and God used her to accomplish everything concerning salvation and our sanctification. He tells us that the prophets, Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, point to Mary. It is through her intercession and through her unique role and example that every faithful soul achieves salvation. Without Mary we would have no Redeemer of the Universe and no Man-God that would empower human beings to imitate Him. Now we have a perfect Model, Victim and Priest through a humble role that all can identify and emulate.
The way to God, Cyril affirms, is strait, narrow, rugged and steep. We are on an arduous, spiritual journey. Who can help us the most? Certainly God's spirit dwells in us to guide and grace us. However, God's own Mother, wants us to imitate Her Son and who better can guide and grace us. She who is full of grace delights to form and fashion us according to His image. We must recall that Christ came into our world through Mary and when He departed out of this world on the cross, gave Her again to us when He said,"Behold your Mother". As Cyril fixed his eyes on Mary so must we in order to imitate Her Divine Son and Savior.
Many interconnecting links below:
Taken from above site.
That anyone could doubt the right of the holy Virgin to be called the Mother of God fills with astonishment. Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to him! Our Lord's disciples may not have used those exact words, but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught us by the holy fathers.
The divinely inspired Scriptures affirm that the Word of God was made flesh, that is to say, he was united to a human body endowed with a rational soul. He undertook to help the descendants of Abraham, fashioning a body for himself from a woman and sharing our flesh and blood, to enable us to see in him not only God, but also, by reason of this union, a man like ourselves.
It is held, therefore, that there is in Emmanuel two entities, divinity and humanity. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ is nonetheless one, the one true Son, both God and man; not a defied man on the same footing as those who share the divine nature by grace, but true God who for our sake appeared in human form. We are assured of this by Saint Paul's declaration: "When the fullness of time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law and to enable us to be adopted as sons.
From a letter by Saint Cyril of Alexandria
TODAY IS ALSO A FEAST OF OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP>
The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is painted on wood, with background of gold. It is Byzantine in style and is supposed to have been painted in the thirteenth century. It represents the Mother of God holding the Divine Child while the Archangels Michael and Gabriel present before Him the instruments of His Passion. Over the figures in the picture are some Greek letters which form the abbreviated words Mother of God, Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel respectively.
It was brought to Rome towards the end of the fifteenth century by a pious merchant, who, dying there, ordered by his will that the picture should be exposed in a church for public veneration. It was exposed in the church of San Matteo, Via Merulana, between Saint Mary Major and Saint John Lateran. Crowds flocked to this church, and for nearly three hundred years many graces were obtained through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. The picture was then popularly called the Madonna di San Matteo. The church was served for a time by the Hermits of Saint Augustine, who had sheltered their Irish brethren in their distress.
These Augustinians were still in charge when the French invaded Rome (1812) and destroyed the church. The picture disappeared; it remained hidden and neglected for over forty years, but a series of providential circumstances between 1863 and 1865 led to its discovery in an oratory of the Augustinian Fathers at Santa Maria in Posterula. The pope, Pius IX, who as a boy had prayed before the picture in San Matteo, became interested in the discovery and in a letter dated 11 Dececember 1865 to Father General Mauron, C.SS.R., ordered that Our Lady of Perpetual Succour should be again publicly venerated in Via Merulana, and this time at the new church of Saint Alphonsus.
The ruins of San Matteo were in the grounds of the Redemptorist Convent. This was but the first favour of the Holy Father towards the picture. He approved of the solemn translation of the picture (26 April, 1866), and its coronation by the Vatican Chapter (23 June, 1867). He fixed the feast as duplex secundae classis, on the Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, and by a decree dated May 1876, approved of a special office and Mass for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. This favour later on was also granted to others. Learning that the devotion to Our Lady under this title had spread far and wide, Pius IX raised a confraternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and Saint Alphonsus, which had been erected in Rome, to the rank of an arch-confraternity and enriched it with many privileges and indulgences. He was among the first to visit the picture in its new home, and his name is the first in the register of the arch-confraternity.
Two thousand three hundred facsimiles of the Holy Picture have been sent from Saint Alphonsus's church in Rome to every part of the world. At the present day not only altars, but churches and dioceses (e.g. in England, Leeds and Middlesborough; in the United States, Savannah) are dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. In some places, as in the United States, the title has been translated Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright 1911, article by J Magnier Patronage
diocese of Salina, Kansas, diocese of Savannah, Georgia,
For more about Mary on this site:
Other Cyril of Alexandria sites:
The doctor of the Incarnation would wholehearted endorse developing a solid spirituality to keep charity most active. One particular website entitled Spirituality Today is linked below:
The below site is a comprehensive site with many Marian links:
DEVOTIONAL/HONORARY TITLES OF MARY FOR THE 50 STATES AMD THE NATION'S CAPITAL. THESE TITLES ARE ALSO LISTED UNDER ST BERNARD, THE DEVOTIONAL DOCTOR.
AL Our Lady of the Gulf
AK Our Lady of the Kodiak and the Islands
AZ Our Lady of the Highways
AR Our Lady of the Holy Souls
CA Our Lady of the Wayside
CO Immaculate Mary
CT Notre Dame of Easton
DE Our Lady of Mercy
FL Our Lady of LaLeche
GA Immaculate Heart of Mary
HI Star of the Sea
ID Our Lady of Limerick
IL Our Lady of the Universe
IN Our Lady of Providence
IA St Mary of Nazareth
KS Mary Queen of Angels
KY Mother of God
LA Our Lady of Prompt Succor
ME Our Lady of Peace
MD Our Lady of the Assumption
MA Our Lady of the Incarnation
MI Gate of Heaven
MN Mother of the Church
MS Our Lady of Sorrows
MO Our Lady of Calvary
MT Our Lady of the Pines
NE Our Lady of the Presentation
NV Our Lady of Las Vegas
NH Our Lady of Perpetual Help
NJ Our Lady of Fatima
NM Our Lady of Guadalupe
NY Help of Christians
NC Our Lady of the Holy Rosary
ND St Mary Queen of Peace
OH Our Lady of Consolation
OK Queen of All Saints
OR Our Lady of the Woods
PA Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
RI Our Lady of Mount Carmel
SC St Mary the Virgin Mother
SD Our Lady of the Prairie
TN Our Lady of Lourdes
TX Our Lady of the Annunciation
UT Our Lady of the Snows
VT Our Lady of Grace
VA Queen of the Apostles
WA Our Lady of Good Help
WA,DC Our Immaculate Queen
WV Our Lady of Victory
WI Our Lady of the Americas
WY St Mary of the Valley