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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

St. Hilary of Poitiers

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

A homily by Saint Hilary the Bishop

There is, to my thinking, no such thing as salt of the earth. How then can the Apostles be called the salt of the earth? We must seek out the true meaning of these words, and the same will be made plain when we consider the office of the Apostles, and the nature of salt itself. Now salt is a compound of elements, for it joineth in itself a certain weakness like unto water, and a certain power like unto fire, so that it hath a double nature.

Salt is therefore able to serve the use of men in divers ways, for wherever it is added, it both preserveth from corruption and giveth savour. And to the Apostle was given a similar two-fold power. For the words which they scattered upon the world, as preachers of the kingdom of heaven, do act as a preservative unto immorality ; that is, as preachers they do confer a savour of sweetness, even unto life everlasting, upon those who receive their teaching.

Then the nature of salt is to be ever the same, and unchanging. Man, on the other hand, hath this weakness, to be changeable. He alone is called blessed who hath persevered unto the end and in all the works of God. Therefore doth the Lord warn them whom he calleth the salt of the earth, that they are to remain strong in that strength which he hath given unto them, lest, becoming themselves savourless, they have no power to season anything. Once having lost the freshness of their saltness, they are unable to stop the corruption round about them ; and so the Church must needs cast them out of her buttery. Thus both they and those whom they should have salted, will be altogether trodden under foot of such as enter in.

Hagiography of Cyril

Cyril of Alexandria hath been styled the Doctor of the Incarnation. For he was concerned with the Nestorian heresy from its inception, and denounced the same to Saint Pope Celestine I, and at the Council of Ephesus in 431, at which the heresy was solemnly condemned , he presided as the representative of the Roman See. And the rest of his life was given over the defence of the truth that in Christ Jesus there is one divine Person. * Cyril was born of distinguished parents, and was the nephew of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, whom he succeeded in that office. He was a man of learning, and of much vigor and determination, and he turned all his powers to the extirpation of heresy and unbelief. His sternness in these matters made him many enemies, even amongst those of orthodox practice, but chiefly he was assailed by the followers of Nestorius, who at one time secured a sentence of excommunication against him as a troublemaker, to which many even of the orthodox bishops assented, which same was later declared null and void. * He wrote much regarding the Faith, and was emphatic in his teaching concerning the Eucharist, whereof he said : We receive it, not as common flesh (which God forbid), nor as the flesh of a man sanctified and associated with the Word, but as indeed the lifegiving and very Flesh of the Word himself. But chiefly he is remembered for his teaching that Mary is the Mother of God, which title the Council of Ephesus acceded to her. At length he died a holy death, in June of the year 444, and the 32nd of his episcopate, but in the west his feast is kept in February.


O God, who didst strengthen thy blessed confessor and Bishop Saint Cyril, invincibly to maintain the divine motherhood of the blessed Virgin Mary : vouchsafe that at his intercession we, believing her to be indeed the Mother of God ; may as her children rejoice in her protection, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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