Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sts. Cyril and Methodius the Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlighteners of the Slavs

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
  
Sts. Cyril and Methodius the Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlighteners of the Slavs - Commemorated on May 11 (http://christopherklitou.com/icon_11_may_cyril_methodius_enlighteners_of_the_slavs.htm)
  
"Saints Cyril and Methodius, Equals of the Apostles, and Enlighteners of the Slavs came from an illustrious and pious family living in the Greek city of Thessalonica. St Methodius was the oldest of seven brothers, St Constantine [Cyril was his monastic name] was the youngest. At first St Methodius was in the military and was governor in one of the Slavic principalities dependent on the Byzantine Empire, probably Bulgaria, which made it possible for him to learn the Slavic language. After living there for about ten years, St Methodius later received monastic tonsure at one of the monasteries on Mount Olympus (Asia Minor).

St Constantine distinguished himself by his great aptitude, and he studied with the emperor Michael under the finest teachers in Constantinople, including St Photius, the future Patriarch of Constantinople (February 6).

St Constantine studied all the sciences of his time, and also knew several languages. He also studied the works of St Gregory the Theologian. Because of his keen mind and penetrating intellect, St Constantine was called "Philosopher" (wise). Upon the completion of his education, St Constantine was ordained to the holy priesthood and was appointed curator of the patriarchal library at the church of Hagia Sophia. He soon left the capital and went secretly to a monastery.

Discovered there, he returned to Constantinople, where he was appointed as instructor in philosophy. The young Constantine's wisdom and faith were so great that he won a debate with Ananias, the leader of the heretical iconclasts . After this victory Constantine was sent by the emperor to discuss the Holy Trinity with the Saracens, and again he gained the victory. When he returned, St Constantine went to his brother St Methodius on Olympus, spending his time in unceasing prayer and reading the works of the holy Fathers.

The emperor soon summoned both of the holy brothers from the monastery and sent them to preach the Gospel to the Khazars. Along the way they stayed in the city of Korsun, making preparations for their missionary activity. There the holy brothers miraculously discovered the relics of the hieromartyr Clement, Pope of Rome (November 25).

Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the Equals-to-the-Apostles (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s1441/s1441005.jpg)
  
There in Korsun St Constantine found a Gospel and Psalter written in Russian letters [i.e. Slavonic], and a man speaking the Slavic tongue, and he learned from this man how to read and speak this language. After this, the holy brothers went to the Khazars, where they won a debate with Jews and Moslems by preaching the Gospel. On the way home, the brothers again visited Korsun and, taking up the relics of St Clement, they returned to Constantinople. St Constantine remained in the capital, but St Methodius was made igumen of the small Polychronion monastery near Mount Olympus, where he lived a life of asceticism as before.

Soon messengers came to the emperor from the Moravian prince Rostislav, who was under pressure from German bishops, with a request to send teachers to Moravia who would be able to preach in the Slavic tongue. The emperor summoned St Constantine and said to him, "You must go there, but it would be better if no one knows about this."

St Constantine prepared for the new task with fasting and prayer. With the help of his brother St Methodius and the disciples Gorazd, Clement, Sava, Naum and Angelyar, he devised a Slavonic alphabet and translated the books which were necessary for the celebration of the divine services: the Gospel, Epistles, Psalter, and collected services, into the Slavic tongue. This occurred in the year 863.
After completing the translation, the holy brothers went to Moravia, where they were received with great honor, and they began to teach the services in the Slavic language. This aroused the malice of the German bishops, who celebrated divine services in the Moravian churches in Latin. They rose up against the holy brothers, convinced that divine services must be done in one of three languages: Hebrew, Greek or Latin.
 
Sts. Cyril and Methodius granting the Cyrillic alphabet to the Slavs (source)
 
St Constantine said, "You only recognize three languages in which God may be glorified. But David sang, 'Praise the Lord, all nations, praise the Lord all peoples (Ps 116/117:1).' And the Gospel of St Matthew (28:18) says, 'Go and teach all nations....'" The German bishops were humiliated, but they became bitter and complained to Rome.

The holy brothers were summoned to Rome for a decision on this matter. Taking with them the relics of St Clement, Sts Constantine and Methodius set off to Rome. Knowing that the holy brothers were bringing these relics with them, Pope Adrian met them along the way with his clergy. The holy brothers were greeted with honor, the Pope gave permission to have divine services in the Slavonic language, and he ordered the books translated by the brothers to be placed in the Latin churches, and to serve the Liturgy in the Slavonic language.

At Rome St Constantine fell ill, and the Lord revealed to him his approaching death. He was tonsured into the monastic schema with the name of Cyril. On February 14, 869, fifty days after receiving the schema, St Cyril died at the age of forty-two.

St Cyril commanded his brother St Methodius to continue with their task of enlightening the Slavic peoples with the light of the true Faith. St Methodius entreated the Pope to send the body of his brother for burial in their native land, but the Pope ordered the relics of St Cyril to be placed in the church of St Clement, where miracles began to occur from them.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius the Equals-to-the-Apostles (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s1441/s1441008.jpg)
  
After the death of St Cyril, the Pope sent St Methodius to Pannonia, after consecrating him as Archbishop of Moravia and Pannonia, on the ancient throne of St Andronicus (July 30). In Pannonia St Methodius and his disciples continued to distribute services books written in the Slavonic language. This again aroused the wrath of the German bishops. They arrested and tried St Methodius, who was sent in chains to Swabia, where he endured many sufferings for two and a half years.

After being set free by order of Pope John VIII of Rome, and restored to his archdiocese, St Methodius continued to preach the Gospel among the Slavs. He baptized the Czech prince Borivoi and his wife Ludmilla (September 16; see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/09/st-ludmilla-martyr-grandmother-of-st.html), and also one of the Polish princes. The German bishops began to persecute the saint for a third time, because he did not accept the erroneous teaching about the procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son. St Methodius was summoned to Rome, but he justified himself before the Pope, and preserved the Orthodox teaching in its purity, and was sent again to the capital of Moravia, Velehrad.

Here in the remaining years of his life St Methodius, assisted by two of his former pupils, translated the entire Old Testament into Slavonic, except for the Book of Maccabbees, and even the Nomocanon (Rule of the holy Fathers) and Paterikon (book of the holy Fathers).

Sensing the nearness of death, St Methodius designated one of his students, Gorazd, as a worthy successor to himself. The holy bishop predicted the day of his death and died on April 6, 885 when he was about sixty years old. The saint's burial service was chanted in three languages, Slavonic, Greek, and Latin. He was buried in the cathedral church of Velehrad."
(http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=101350)
  
Sts. Cyril and Methodius the Equal-to-the-Apostles (http://days.pravoslavie.ru/Images/ii1525&97.htm)
  
Stichera Prosomia in the Second Tone "With what crowns of praise..."
With what crowns of praise shall we adorn the divinely-wise teachers: the voices of wisdom sounding amid clouds of darkness, enlightening those in the shadow of death with the light of the Gospel, the great preachers of the undivided Trinity, who grafted barren unbelievers as branches into the fruitful tree of the Orthodox Church, that they might obtain from Christ our God peace and great mercy?
 
With what songs of praise shall we glorify the divinely-wise teachers: the golden-mouthed Cyril, who reached the heights of wisdom through his sweet preaching, humbling the fierce pride of Islam; and Methodius, the lover of solitude, who in silence received the fruits of the Spirit? Through their prayers, O Christ our God, grant us great mercy!
 
With what hymns of praise shall we magnify the divinely-wise teachers: Cyril, who chose to live with wisdom in his youth, and multiplied his talents to the glory of God; and Methodius who renounced the things of this world for love of Christ? He strove like an angel for the Kingdom of heaven. Through them, we have come to know God, the eternal Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, receiving from Christ our God great mercy.
 
With what spiritual songs shall we magnify you, O most blessed teachers? For the sake of the salvation of the Slavs you became Equals-to-the-Apostles. You labored to enlighten them by the lamp of the Word of God, opening for them the door of the written word. As we enter, we understand the blessed teaching of Christ, receiving from Him peace and great mercy.
 
Apolytikion of Sts. Cyril and Methodios in the Fourth Tone
Cyril and Methodius, inspired by God, you became Equals-to-the-Apostles by your life. As you were teachers of the Slavs, intercede with the Master of all, that He may strengthen all Orthodox peoples in the true faith; that He may grant peace to the world and great mercy to our souls!
 
Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the Equals-to-the-Apostles (http://pravicon.com/images/sv/s1441/s1441003.jpg)
  
Christ is Risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

1 comment:

Juliana Sersenov√° said...

Just a little note:
St Methodius was not buried and he could not live in Velehrad (Czech Republic). Velehrad as the place of pilgrimage was founded in 13th century by jesuits with the intention to honour the work of St Cyril and Methodius. It is located near the area of archaeological research of the ancient Moravian Empire.
The temple where St Methodius originally rested was ruined by Bavarians at the end of 9th century during the period of destruction of everything related to St. Cyril and Methodius.
It is unknown where the temple was. It could also have been in Nitra or in Bratislava - Devin (Slovakia), another two strategic centres of the Moravian Empire. xxx