Today we celebrate the feast of two brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, apostles to the Slavs. Born in 826 and 827 to a noble Greek family, both men studied at the University of Constantinople and taught philosophy there. Both ordained to the priesthood, Methodius was elevated to the office of bishop, but uncertainty exists about Cyril’s elevation. He may have been a bishop. (It is thought that he died before the ceremony.) It is known that Cyril, named Constantin at birth, took the name Cyril while a monk and librarian at the church of Santa Sophia.
Their vocations sent them to Russia in 861 in response to the emperor’s request that they convert the Jewish Khazars, which proved to be a success. In the process they learned the Khazars language and developed a written alphabet for the Slavonic tongue, known today as the Cyrillic alphabet. Eventually, they obtained approval for the Liturgy of the Slavonic language.
Saint Cyril died in 869, and Saint Methodius lived another 16 after his brother’s death. In time, Saint Methodius became the Archbishop of Velehred (Czech Republic). His efforts to see the Slavonic used in liturgy landed him in jail due to opposition by the German clergy. They claimed he preached heresy, a charge of which he was repeatedly cleared. He translated the bible into the Slavonic languages and advocated for local languages to be used in liturgical settings. St. Methodius died in 885.
We also celebrate today, the feast of St. Valentine. Much is written of him, and our popular culture elevates him today. What most people don’t know is that he was most likely a bishop, and his defense of marriage brought about his death by beating and beheading around the year 269.
So all this got me thinking. Here we have 3 holy men who proclaimed the gospel without reserve. Two of the three were bishops – one experienced jail, the other martyrdom. I think today of the US bishops who are standing up against powerful forces that want to destroy the church.
Pray! Pray! Pray, for our bishops! They need courage and wisdom and strength to stand up to these forces. The “easy” issue is to make this fight for the freedom of religion about birth control. We all know that most Catholics ignore that particular teaching, so it’s easy to rationalize. Make the argument about something other than what’s at the core – a desire to weaken the church, and a goal (in my opinion) for free abortion on demand for all. If our bishops do not stand up now, later will be too late.
So, today, and in the days ahead, I ask you to join me in praying for the US bishops:
God, eternal shepherd, you tend your Church in many ways and rule us with love. You have chosen your bishop servants, to be a shepherds of your flock. Give them a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love. By governing with fidelity those entrusted to their care, may they build your Church as a sign of salvation for the world. Amen.
Saints Cyril, Methodius, and Valentine, pray for us! Pray for our bishops! Anne