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Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Life of St. Cyril of Jerusalem


St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem
Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386. In the East his feast is observed on the 18th of March, in the West on the 18th or 20th. Little is known of his life. We gather information concerning him from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. Cyril himself gives us the date of his "Catechesis" as fully seventy years after the Emperor Probus that is about 347, if he is exact. Constans (d. 350) was then still alive. Mader thinks Cyril was already bishop, but it is usually held that he was at this date only as a priest. St. Jerome relates (Chron. ad ann. 352) that Cyril had been ordained priest by St. Maximus, his predecessor, after whose death the episcopate was promised to Cyril by the metropolitan, Acacius of Caesarea, and the other Arian bishops, on condition that he should repudiate the ordination he had received from Maximus.
St. Cyril attended the great Council of Constantinople in 381, at which Theodosius had ordered the Nicene faith, now a law of the empire, to be promulgated.
The extant works of St. Cyril of Jerusalem include a sermon on the Pool of Bethesda, a letter to the Emperor Constantius, three small fragments, and the famous "Catechesis".  The letter describes a wonderful cross of light, extending from Calvary to the Mount of Olives, which appeared in the air on the nines of May, after Pentecost, toward the beginning of the saint's episcopate.  The catechetical lectures are among the most precious remains of Christian antiquity.  They include an introductory address, eighteen instructions delivered in Lent to those who were preparing for baptism, and five "mystagogical" instructions given during Easter week to the same persons after their baptism.  They contain interesting local references as to the finding of the Cross, the position of Calvary in relation to the walls, to the other holy places, and to the great basilica built by Constantine in which these conferences were delivered.
St. Cyril's doctrine is expressed in his creed, which seems to have run thus: 

"I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten by the Father true God before all ages, God of God, Life of Life, Light of Light, by Whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary, and was made man. He was crucified . . . and buried. He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and sat at the right hand of the Father. And He cometh in glory to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And in one Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, Who spoke by the prophets; and in one baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, and in one holy Catholic Church, and in the resurrection of the body, and in life everlasting."

St. Cyril's teaching about the Blessed Sacrament is of the first importance, for he was speaking freely, untrammeled by the "discipline of the secret".  On the Real Presence he is unambiguous: "Since He Himself has declared and said of the bread: This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt anymore? And when He asserts and says: This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate and say it is not His Blood?" Of the Transformation, he argues, if Christ could change water into wine, can He not change wine into His own Blood? The bread and wine are symbols: "In the type of bread is given thee the Body, in the type of wine the Blood is given thee"; but they do not remain in their original condition, they have been changed, though the senses cannot tell us this: "Do not think it mere bread and wine, for it is the Body and Blood of Christ, according to the Lord's declaration". "Having learned this and being assured of it, that appears to be bread is not bread, though perceived by the taste, but the Body of Christ, and what appears to be wine is not wine, though the taste says so, but the Blood of Christ . . . strengthen thy heart, partaking of it as spiritual (food), and rejoice the face of thy soul".

Learn more about St. Cyril of Jerusalem by going to the link below.

Excerpts taken from Catholic Encyclopedia-- http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04595b.htm