Monday, February 14, 2011

Feast Day of Cyril and Methodius

Today is the Feast Day of Saints Cyril and Methodius, saints honored in both Eastern and Western Christianity for their work as missionaries among the Slavs in the mid AD 800s. 


The two were brothers and ordained priests in the Byzantine Church in Constantinople, where Cyril had served as the librarian at Hagia Sophia. Methodios, the elder brother, had spent ten years as an officer among the Slavs in Macedonia. 


When the Khazar king requested Christian Missionaries from Emperor Michael, the Emperor commanded that these brothers be found and sent. They went and converted a great number of people, starting with the king and many of the nobles. 


Returning to Constantinople, they compiled the Cyrillic alphabet in order to translate the Liturgy into Slavonic. They were later invited to Moravia , where they continued their evangelistic work and defended the use of the vernacular in the Liturgy. They were eventually even invited to Rome by the Pope. Cyril died there, at which point Methodius returned to Moravia to finish his life as a missionary there. 


While events only a few decades after the death of Methodius seemed to have destroyed their work in Moravia, their work became the foundation of Slavic civilization in eastern and south-eastern Europe and provided the language footings for the missionary efforts in the coming centuries. It is this continuation of the practice of the Holy Apostles of speaking of Christianity in the languages of all the nations that Saints Cyril and Methodius are remembered as equal to the apostles in the Eastern church. 


Thus, the next time you hear an assertion by a new Atheist denigrating Christianity as a religion that is a bigoted and war mongering from which no good has ever come, ask them how many alphabets Atheism has ever invented for non-literate people and how many civilizations have been founded on that work. 


Let us pray:


Almighty and everlasting God, who by the power of the Holy Spirit moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people: Overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. 

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