Cyril and Methodius
Cyril and Methodius are two saints that are very important in the Byzantine churches. We remember them for bringing Christianity to the Slavic nations. And this is why we call them the apostles to the Slavs. These saints provide a great example to us all about how the East and West complement each other. As well as how an academic and a monastic make a great pair!
Sts. Cyril and Methodius were brothers, born and raised in Thessolonica. They grew up in a wealthy Christian family, with seven children. Methodius was the older brother (born between 815 and 820 AD). And Cyril was around ten years younger (born around 1827 AD).
If you have heard of St. Cyril, you probably know that the Cyrillic alphabet is named for St. Cyril. We honour him for his work translating the Bible into Old Church Slavonic with the help of his brother. What you might not know is that most of his life he went by the name Constantine. He only took on the name Cyril near his death.
When you have a spare 48 minutes, check out this podcast from The Sword and the Cloud on St. Cyril to hear more about this great Saint! Or put it on in the background while you put laundry away. It is a live episode. And (spoiler alert) sometimes you can hear Little Badger in the background. (I tried to keep her mostly quiet, but for some reason babies like to yell if everyone else is quiet, eh?). Bill Dykstra discusses St. Cyril’s childhood, love of wisdom, and traditions about the saint’s life. One fact I learned during this podcast was that Cyril was given a classical education. And related to that, I learned that Byzantium was responsible for preserving most of the classical works that we use today. So cool!
While Cyril was an academic, Methodius was a monastic. We remember Methodius for wanting to get away from worldly things, so that he could focus on the will of God alone. And when it was the will of God for him to leave the monestary to do missionary work, that is exactly what he did.
Check out this recent podcast from The Sword and the Cloud on St. Methodius for some great information on this Saint. And this episode is only 20 minutes long. Bill Dykstra provides an array of information on St. Methodius, with attention to available historical accounts.
Ways to Celebrate Cyril and Methodius this week
Sts. Cyril and Methodius remind us that the Latin churches and Greek churches are not contrary, but complementary. Honour these saints by praying for a humble heart, so that we are not too proud of our own traditions to be unappreciative of the traditions of others.
Also, listen to the podcasts linked above from TheSwordAndTheCloud.com on St. Cyril and on St. Methodius.
Add great Byzantine works to your home’s classical canon. You could always spend some time reading homilies of Eastern Church Fathers, or some akathists or other great prayers written in our tradition.
If you have children, look at Glagolitic script with them. This is the actual lettering made by Sts. Cyril and Methodius (a precursor to the current Cyrillic alphabet). Perhaps try to copy out some of the letters. If your children enjoy writing and drawing, ask them to try and make their own phonetic alphabet. And then they can try translating their favourite bible verses into their own script!
Prayers and Tropars for Cyril and Methodius
Matins Gospel: John 21: 15-25
Troparion: (tone 4)
As equals to the apostles in the way you lived, and teachers of the Slavic lands, O Cyril and Methodius, divinely wise, intercede with the Master of all. To confirm the Slavic nations in orthodoxy and oneness of mind, and to grant peace to the world and save our souls.
Kontakion: (tone 3)
Let us extol our two sacred teachers. By their translation of the scriptures, they tapped for us a well that brings knowledge of God. And, drawing from it abundantly to this very day, we call you blessed, O Cyril and Methodius. As you stand before the throne on high, fervently pray to God to save our souls.
Prokeimenon: (tone 7)
Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His venerable ones.
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