Optional Memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria, bishop and doctor

St. Cyril I, 24th Patriarch of AlexandriaSupernaturally, we are all one. We are made one body in Christ, because we are nourished by one flesh. As Christ is indivisible, we are all one in him.

St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Cyril is one of the most important and outspoken Church Fathers. It was at the Council of Ephesus (mid-400s), in which he was presiding in the name of the Pope at the time, that it was defined that Mary is truly Theotokos, the Mother of God. This secondary infallible declaration is a result of the primary infallible declaration of the Council, which was the proclamation that Jesus is both Truly God and Truly Man.

In addition to this, St. Cyril was an ardent defender of the Real Presence and the authority of the Bishop of Rome as the visible head of the Church on Earth.

Read the Bible at Mass

First Reading: Gn 18:16-33

Abraham and the men who had visited him by the Terebinth of Mamre set out from there and looked down toward Sodom; Abraham was walking with them, to see them on their way.

The LORD reflected:

“Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, now that he is to become a great and populous nation, and all the nations of the earth are to find blessing in him? Indeed, I have singled him out that he may direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD may carry into effect for Abraham the promises he made about him.”

Then the LORD said:

“The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.”

While the two men walked on farther toward Sodom, the LORD remained standing before Abraham. Then Abraham drew nearer to him and said:

“Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty? Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to make the innocent die with the guilty, so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike! Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?”

The LORD replied, “If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Abraham spoke up again:

“See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am but dust and ashes! What if there are five less than fifty innocent people? Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?”

He answered, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”

But Abraham persisted, saying, “What if only forty are found there?”

He replied, “I will forbear doing it for the sake of forty.”

Then Abraham said, “Let not my Lord grow impatient if I go on. What if only thirty are found there?”

He replied, “I will forbear doing it if I can find but thirty there.”

Still Abraham went on, “Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?”

He answered, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”

But he still persisted:

“Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time. What if there are at least ten there?”

He replied, “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”

The LORD departed as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham,
and Abraham returned home.

Responsorial Psalm: 103:1b-2, 3-4, 8-9, 10-11

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits. 

R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.

R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.

R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him. 

R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Gospel Reading: Mt 8:18-22

When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other shore. A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”

St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Cyril is one of the great Greek fathers of the Church. He was chosen by divine Providence to be the shield and champion of the Church against Nestorius, who denied the unity of person in Christ. If this heresy had succeeded, Mary would not be called the Mother of God.

Excepting Sts. Athanasius and Augustine, his equal as a defender of orthodoxy, can hardly be found in the Church’s history. His greatest achievement was the successful direction of the ecumenical council at Ephesus (431), of which he was the soul (Pope Celestine had appointed him papal legate). In this council two important dogmas were defined – that there is but one person in Christ, and that Mary (in the literal sense of the word) can be called the Mother of God (Theotokos). His successful defense of the latter doctrine is his greatest title to honor.

His writings show such depth and clarity that the Greeks called him the “seal of the fathers.” He died in 444 A.D., after having been bishop for thirty-two years. In Rome, the basilica of St. Mary Major stands as a most venerable monument to the honor paid Mary at the Council of Ephesus. On the arch leading into the sanctuary important incidents in the lives of Jesus and Mary are depicted in mosaic.

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

In 1881, he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII, and in 1944, on the fifteenth centenary of Cyril’s death, Pope Pius XII issued his encyclical Orientalis Ecclesiae, commemorating Cyril’s place in the history of the Church.

Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens

Patron: Alexandria; Egypt.

Symbols: Shown holding a pen; with the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus.

Things to Do:

  • Read Pope Pius XII encyclical, Orientalis Ecclesiae (On St. Cyril, Patriarch Of Alexandria).
  • Read some excerpts from the writings of St. Cyril at the Crossroads Initiative.
  • St. Cyril lived in the fifth century and combated the heresy of Nestorius, who denied the union between the humanity and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus, the divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church466) Read what the Catholic Encyclopedia says about Nestorius and Nestorianism.

via Catholic Culture | Liturgical Year

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