Friday, March 18, 2011

Bring JOY to the face of your soul!

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was born just about the time the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire (313 AD) and became bishop of the Holy City of David about 349 AD.  St. Cyril was banished from his Jerusalem See a total of three times for his bold proclamation of faith in Christ's full divinity during a time when many bishops and emperors favored various forms of the Arian heresy.  He is one of
the most important sources we have for how the church celebrated the liturgy and sacraments during the first few decades after the legalization of Christianity. 
In his famous 24 lectures commonly known as the  Jerusalem Catecheses, St Cyril instructs new Christians in the days immediately before and after their initiation into the life of the Church at the Easter Vigil.  In these catechetical instructions, which are the only documents that survive by St. Cyril, we find very strong insistence on the
value and efficacy of the sacrament of baptism as well as heavy emphasis on the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the sacrament of the Eucharist. 
An except from The Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation,
St Cyril of Jerusalem, Early Church Father
"Do not, then, regard the Eucharistic elements as ordinary bread and wine:  they are in fact that Body and Blood of the Lord, as He Himself has declared.  Whatever your senses may tell you, be strong in faith.
You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the Body and Blood of Christ.  You know also how David referred to this long ago, when he sang: Bread gives strength to man's heart and makes his face shine with the oil of gladness.  Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.
May purity of conscience remove the veil from the face of your soul so that by contemplating the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, you may transformed from glory to glory in Christ Jesus our Lord.  To Him be glory for ever and ever.  Amen."
St Cyril of Jerusalem
Bishop of Jerusalem
Doctor of the Church
FEAST DAY - March 18
 "Make your fold with the sheep;
flee from the wolves:
depart not from the Church,"
St Cyril admonished catechumens
surrounded by heresy.
Ste Cyril of Jerusalem, ora pro nobis!

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