Cyril of Jerusalem

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If you believe that the Pater Nostre (aka: the Our Father) is rightly placed at the end of the Eucharistic prayer and if you believe that the correct way to receive the bread during the Eucharist is with the right hand supported by the left hand, both opened, then you can look up to Heaven and say, “Thank you, St. Cyril of Jerusalem.”  He is also the one we can thank for giving us many of the liturgies from Palm Sunday through Easter, and the forms he wrote had great influence over the liturgies in our current Book of Common Prayer.

He was born and lived in Jerusalem during the forth century and later became Bishop of that great city, although at the time, the city had fallen into quite a disreputable state.  Even so, many still went on pilgrimage to the holy sites and as a way to organize the events, Cyril developed the liturgies around Holy Week.  He also provided multiple catechisms for the instruction of those being baptized into the faith, which at the time and to the present day are quite popular, as he had quite the zeal for the sacraments.  For example, with regard to baptism, he wrote:

“This is in truth a serious matter, brethren, and you must approach it with good heed.  Each one of you is about to be presented to God before tens of thousands of the Angelic Hosts:  the Holy Ghost is about to seal your souls:  ye are to be enrolled in the army of the Great King.  Therefore make you ready, and equip yourselves, by putting on I mean, not bright apparel, but piety of soul with a good conscience.  Regard not the Laver as simple water, but rather regard the spiritual grace that is given with the water.  For just as the offerings brought to the heathen altars, though simple in their nature, become defiled by the invocation of the idols, so contrariwise the simple water having received the invocation of the Holy Ghost, and of Christ, and of the Father, acquires a new power of holiness.” (source)

It was this zeal that made his teaching so popular, leading even the faithful to attend and hear.

At his election to Bishop of Jerusalem, a bright cross appeared in the sky of Jerusalem that was seen by all and taken as a sign of God’s approval of the election.  In 1882 he was named a Doctor of the Church, along with others such as Gregory the Great, Augustine of Hippo, and Teresa of Ávila.

Jesus said to his disciples, “‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you– that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.”  Cyril also opened the minds of many to the meaning of the scriptures and their significance to the teachings of the church.  In a similar fashion, we are called to continue this practice by providing instruction to the youth of our community and to those who are new to the faith, that they too might grow into a deeper knowledge of the Lord.

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