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Saturday, March 18, 2017
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
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Double (1954 Calendar): March 18th

Today is the Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a Doctor of the Church.  On feastdays in Lent, more usually the Mass of the Lenten feria is said with only a commemoration of the feast - unlike the other seasons in the Church's liturgical year.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was born in 313 AD around the same time that Christianity was finally legalized in the Roman Empire.  The holy saint would in 349 AD be ordained the bishop of the holy city of Jerusalem, yet he would not be free from sufferings even in the era of the legalization of Christianity.  On three occasions St. Cyril was banished from Jerusalem by various bishops and emperors who espoused the Arian heresy.

In May of 381, Theodosius called the second ecumenical council at Constantinople to resolve theological disputes. Since Theodosius was the Emperor of the East at this time (he did not become the Emperor of the entire Roman Empire until 392) only the Eastern Bishops were invited. The Council met in the church of Hagia Irene (Holy Peace). Although only 150 Bishops attended, several have become recognized as saints – Gregory of Nazianzus, Meletius of Antioch, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebaste, Pelagius of Laodicea, Eulogius of Edessa, Amphilochius of Iconium and Cyril of Jerusalem - just to name a few.  The most important contribution from this Council was the expansion of the Nicene Creed.  The new Nicene – Constantinopolitan Creed described the incarnation, suffering and death of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Italy on CrossRoad Initiatives further elaborates:
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem 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, Saint 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.  
St. Cyril of Jerusalem is considered to be one of the Early Church Fathers and is also reckoned among the number of the Doctors of the Catholic Church. St. Cyril of Jerusalem died about 386 AD, shortly after the First Council of Constantinople which completed the Creed commonly known as the Nicene Creed.  (bio by Dr. Italy)
You may read his 24 lectures online for free.  Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2.

Collect:

O Almighty God, may the prayers of Your blessed bishop Cyril help us to know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent, so that we may be numbered among the flock that obeys His voice. Through the same Jesus Christ . . .

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