Prologue of Ohrid

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June 9

1. SAINT CYRIL, ARCHBISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA

Cyril was of noble birth and a close relative of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, after whose death he was consecrated as patriarch. During his lifetime, he led three bitter struggles: with the Novatian heretics, with the heretic Nestor and with the Jews in Alexandria. The Novatianists had their origin in Rome and were named after Novatian the presbyter and leader of the heresy. They took pride in their virtues, walked about dressed in white garments, forbade a second marriage, held that prayers should not be said for those who committed a mortal sin, nor to receive back into the Church those who, at one time, had fallen away from the Church even though they bitterly repented. Cyril defeated them and drove them out of Alexandria together with their bishop. The struggle with the Jews was more difficult and bloodier. Since Alexander the Great founded that city, the Jews from the beginning became strong in Alexandria. Their hatred toward Christians was vicious and insane. They killed Christians by treachery, by poisoning and by crucifying them on a cross. After a long and difficult struggle, Cyril succeeded with Emperor Theodosius the Younger to drive the Jews out of Alexandria. However, his struggle against Nestor, the Patriarch of Constantinople, was resolved at the Third Ecumenical Council [Ephesus 431 A.D]. Cyril himself presided at this Council and, at the same time, represented Celestine the Pope of Rome at his request who was unable to attend the Council because of old age. Nestorius was condemned, anathematized and was banished by the emperor to the eastern boundary of the empire where he died a horrible death (for worms consumed his tongue by which he had blasphemed the Birth-giver of God calling her the Birth-giver of Christ). After the completion of this struggle, Cyril lived in peace and zealously tended Christ's flock. He presented himself to the Lord in the year 444 A.D. It is said that he composed the prayer: "Rejoice, O Virgin Birth-giver of God, Mary full of grace!" [The Hail Mary].

2. SAINT CYRIL OF WHITE LAKE [BELOE OZERO]

Cyril was born and educated in Moscow of an aristocratic family. He was tonsured a monk in Simonov Monastery where he lived a life of asceticism to the amazement of the other monks. In order to conceal his virtues, he pretended insanity. He personally spoke to St. Sergius of Radonezh and received many beneficial instructions from him. Against his wishes he was elected abbot of Simonov monastery. He prayed constantly to the All-Holy Birth-giver of God to show him the way whereby he could, in silence, live a life of asceticism. One night he saw a great light and heard a voice: "Cyril, depart from here and go to the White Lake!" And indeed, he departed from the Simonov Monastery with one companion and went to the vicinity of the White Lake and there, in the dense pine forest, began to live a life of asceticism. In time, this wilderness was transformed into a large monastery. The Venerable Cyril received the great gift of miracle-working from God and cured the sick and worked many other miracles. He died in the year 1429 A.D. in his ninetieth year and took up habitation with the Lord Whom he ardently loved his entire life.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
ST. CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA
 
Saint Cyril, unwavering
 
By his faith, amazes the universe,
 
With the honorable Cross, the hero encompassed himself
 
Against the enemies of the Church, took up arms,
 
Against the Jews, arch-enemies of the Cross,
 
And attacked the Novatianists,
 
Who took pride in themselves
 
To mercy, they placed a boundary,
 
Condemned sinners, prior to the Judgment,
 
To the power of God, they denied miracles.
 
But Cyril, shown the most
 
When he rose up against Nestorius,
 
The destroyer of the Orthodox Faith
 
The blasphemer of the Mother of God,
 
Cyril, the Mother of God, helped,
 
So that he overcame every diabolical power,
 
Holy Church cleansed of chaff,
 
All with the help of the Virgin Mother of God.
 
Cyril was a knight of Orthodoxy,
 
That is why the Church glorifies Cyril
 
And to him, prays without ceasing,
 
From diabolical uprisings, to protect us,
 
O Cyril, star among the stars,
 
By your prayers, help us.
 
REFLECTION

We sin if we consider it a duty to also hate those whom our relatives hate. This hatred passes on to us like a family sickness. In adopting the love of our relatives, we also adopt their hatreds. Sometimes even the great spiritual giants succumbed to that weakeness. Patriarch Theophilus disliked St. John Chrysostom and remained his bitter enemy even until death. Saint Cyril, his kinsman and successor to the throne of Alexandria, inherited that hatred against Chrysostom the saint and, for a long time, bore this hatred within himself. In vain did Saint Isidore of Pelusium advise Cyril to change his opinion about Chrysostom and to enter his name in the Diptych of the Saints but Cyril could not change his evil will. Then the All-Holy Birth-giver of God, for whose glory and honor Cyril fought so much against Nestorius, appeared to Cyril in a vision with a multitude of angels and with John Chyrsostom in great glory. The Holy and All-Pure One begged Chrysostom to forgive Cyril. Then Chrysostom approached Cyril, they embraced and kissed one another. This vision completely changed the feelings of Cyril toward Chrysostom and Cyril repented with shame because he unreasonably hated Chrysostom. That is why to his death Cyril did everything in order to highly praise Chrysostom as a great saint of God.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the miraculous healing of the dumb man possessed: "As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a dumb man possessed with a devil" (St. Matthew 9:32):

1. How the Lord cast out the devil from him and the dumb man spoke;

2. How the devil, with all his power, tries to make my soul dumb so that it does not glorify the Lord;

3. How the Lord, with one word, if I so desire, can cast out from me the unclean spirit and make me a harp of the glory of God.

HOMILY

About those who love death

"All they that hate Me love death" (Proverbs 8:35).

Thus speaks the Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, through His prophet. He who hates the wisdom of God, hates God and he who hates God what else is there for him to love except death? Is not everything outside of the Lord death? The sun and stars, the seas and mountains, animals and plants what is all of this except dead dust formed and enlivened by the power of God, the word of God, the wisdom of God?

He who does not love God, not only does he not love God but does not love anything that is from God, i.e., neither the beauty of the stars nor the order of the seas and mountains nor the living power that is in animals and plant life. He who does not love God, removes and distances God from nature. What else then is left? Only dead, formless, dark, dust only death. Even that dust is created by God. And that dust, the blasphemer of God must return to God and that, which is left over, he can love. What is there left over? Only that which does not touch God, i.e., death, sin and the devil. He who does not love God he, in essence, loves death, sin and the devil. Every blasphemer of God is a toy of the devil, the fruit of sin and a pawn of death.

If we despise You, O Loving Lord, we do not have anyone or anything to love. For that which we love on earth, we love because of You and the capability to love is from You. Foolish is he who loves the rays and despises the sun and who loves a drop of water and despises the spring.

Inspire us toward You by Your life-giving love, O our All-loving Lord.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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