Tag Archives: mother of god

St. Cyril of Alexandria (d.444)


Pope Francis, speaking in his recent Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et exultate” of “the saints next door” – the ordinary holy people of our world– says “Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.” (3) They persevere.

The pope in that same exhortation says that canonized saints have their faults and failings too.“Not everything a saint says is completely faithful to the Gospel; not everything he or she does is authentic or perfect. What we need to contemplate is the totality of their life, their entire journey of growth in holiness, the reflection of Jesus Christ that emerges when we grasp their overall meaning as a person.” (22)

Later in his letter, Francis speaks about the dangers of modern day Pelagianism and cautions that when some say “ all things can be accomplished with God’s grace, deep down they tend to give the idea that all things are possible by the human will, as if it were something pure, perfect, all-powerful, to which grace is then added. They fail to realize that “not everyone can do everything”, and that in this life human weaknesses are not healed completely and once for all by grace. (49)

Being holy, being a saint, doesn’t mean you’re perfect, the pope says. That’s good to remember when we consider St.Cyril of Alexandria, the 4th century bishop of Alexandria and doctor of the church, whose feast is today, June 26th.

If you read his online biography in Wikipedia–where many today look for information about saints – you’ll find that he was deeply involved in the messy partisan politics of his time, when Christians, Jews and Pagans fought and schemed to control the city that was then probably the most important city in the Roman empire. He was a “proud Pharaoh;” “ a monster” out to destroy the church, some said, an impulsive bishop in a riotous city. That’s the way the Wikipedia biography mainly sees him.

He was a saint, others said. Why a saint? Well, Cyril was absorbed in understanding and defending the Incarnation of the Word of God. Did the Word of God come among us? How did he come? Who was Jesus Christ? Pursuing that mystery defined Cyril during life.

He thought and wrote extensively about this mystery; it absorbed him. The way he came to express it was used at the Council of Ephesus (431) and became the way we also express it in our prayers. Mary was the Mother of God. The One born of her was not simple another human being. Her Son was true God, who would be truly human and eventually die on the Cross. God “so loved the world” that he came among us as Mary’s Son.

What we see as “the totality” of Cyril’s life, his “life’s jouney”, the “overall meaning of his person”, to use the pope’s words, is not his involvment in the violent politics of city and society of his day, but his quest to know Jesus Christ.

Morning Thoughts: Over Easy

by Howard Hain

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A run-of-the-mill bakery.

A hand truck full of eggs.

A handful of women from Latin America.

Neither load is fragile.

A woman’s strength may appear as a delicate shell, and if poorly handled she too may break.

But strength is not a matter of not breaking.

It’s a matter of showing up, chipped, broken, sometimes even shattered.

It’s a matter of overcoming.

Of producing.

Of providing.

Of letting go.

One buttered roll at a time.

Preparing the day “café con leche” by “café con leche”.

The eggs slowly disappear.

The ladies change names.

Mary, the Mother of God, remains.

———

“Holy Mother, pierce me through, in my heart each wound renew, of my Savior crucified.”

———

It’s a matter of believing. Of dreaming. Of seeing what can’t be seen. Of loving who can’t be loved.

It’s a matter of hope that never ends, of hope that sustains the very faith from which it came.

It’s a matter of saying “yes” to each and every hour—for someone must be present to serve God’s promise of daily bread.

———

She who stands closest to the foot of the cross most resembles the man being crucified. She must embody Compassion, she still hears His breath, expanding and contracting deep within. Suffering is not be feared. Being without the source of all consolation and peace is just too terrifying.

The “fear of the Lord” keeps us within the grasp of Jesus’ hand.

It “is the beginning of wisdom.” Mary is there to begin. She remains till the end.

Wisdom begets Wisdom.

And she most often looks like a little unpresuming lady working behind a busy breakfast counter.

She is a lady nonetheless.

She is the mother of all I hope for.

———

“Pray for us, O holy Mother of God; that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”

———

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