Prologue of Ohrid


June 9


Cyril was of noble birth and a close relative of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, after whose death he was consecrated patriarch. During his lifetime he led three bitter struggles: with the Novatianist heretics, with the heretic Nestorius, and with the Jews in Alexandria. The Novatianists had their origin in Rome and were named after Novatian the presbyter, the leader of the heresy. They took pride in their virtues, walked about dressed in white garments, forbade second marriages, and held that prayers should not be said for those who had committed a mortal sin, nor should those who had once fallen away from the Church be received back into the Church, even if they bitterly repented. Cyril defeated them and drove them out of Alexandria together with their bishop. The struggle with the Jews was more difficult and bloody. Since the time that Alexander the Great had founded the city, the Jews had been strong in Alexandria. Their hatred toward Christians was vicious and insane. They killed Christians by treachery, by poisoning, and by crucifying them on crosses. After a long and difficult struggle, Cyril succeeded, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Younger, in driving the Jews out of Alexandria. However, his struggle against Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, was resolved at the Third Ecumenical Council [Ephesus 431 A.D]. Cyril himself presided at this Council and at the same time represented Pope Celestine of Rome at the request of the latter, who was unable to attend the Council because of old age. Nestorius was condemned, anathematized and banished by the emperor to the eastern boundary of the empire, where he died a horrible death (for worms consumed his tongue, by which he had blasphemed the Birth-giver of God (Theotokos), calling her the Birth-giver of Christ (Christotokos). After the completion of this struggle, Cyril lived in peace and zealously tended Christ's flock. He presented himself to the Lord in the year 444 A.D. It is said that he composed the prayer: "Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, Mary full of grace!" [The Hail Mary].


Cyril was of an aristocratic family and was born and educated in Moscow. He was tonsured a monk in the Simonov Monastery, where he lived a life of asceticism that amazed the other monks. In order to conceal his virtues he pretended insanity. He personally spoke with St. Sergius of Radonezh and received many beneficial instructions from him. Against his will he was elected abbot of Simonov monastery. He prayed constantly to the All-Holy Birth-giver of God to show him the way whereby he could live a life of asceticism in silence. One night he saw a great light and heard a voice: "Cyril, depart from here and go to White Lake!" And indeed, he departed from the Simonov Monastery with one companion, went to the vicinity of White Lake, and there, in the dense pine forest, began to live a life of asceticism. In time, this hermitage was transformed into a large monastery. The Venerable Cyril received the great gift of miracle-working from God; he cured the sick and worked many other miracles. He died in the year 1429 A.D., in his ninetieth year, and took up his habitation with the Lord, Whom he had ardently loved his entire life.



Saint Cyril, unwavering,

By his faith, amazed the universe.

With the honorable Cross the hero guarded himself;

Against the enemies of the Church he took up arms,

Against the Jews, the Archenemies of the Cross.

He attacked the Novatianists,

Who took pride in themselves,

Who on mercy set a limit,

Who condemned sinners prior to the Judgment,

And who denied the power of God to work miracles.

But Cyril shone the most

When he rose up against Nestorius,

The destroyer of the Orthodox Faith,

The blasphemer against the Mother of God.

The Mother of God assisted Cyril

To overcome every diabolical power,

And to cleanse the Holy Church of chaff.

All occurred with the help of the Virgin Mother of God.

Cyril was a knight of Orthodoxy;

That is why the Church glorifies him

And to him prays without ceasing,

From diabolical uprisings, to protect us.

O Cyril, star among the stars,

By your prayers, help us.


We sin if we consider it our duty to hate those whom our relatives hate. This hatred is passed on to us like a family sickness. In adopting the love of our relatives, we also adopt their hatred. Sometimes even great spiritual giants have succumbed to that weakeness. Patriarch Theophilus disliked St. John Chrysostom and remained his bitter enemy even until death. Saint Cyril, his kinsman and successor to the throne of Alexandria, inherited that hatred against the holy Chrysostom and, for a long time, bore this hatred within himself. In vain did Saint Isidore of Pelusium advise Cyril to change his opinion about Chrysostom and to enter his name in the Diptych of the Saints, but Cyril could not change his ill will. Then the All-Holy Birth-giver of God, for whose glory and honor Cyril had fought so much against Nestorius, appeared to Cyril in a vision with a multitude of angels, and with them John Chyrsostom in great glory. The Holy and All-Pure one begged Chrysostom to forgive Cyril. Then Chrysostom approached Cyril and they embraced and kissed one another. This vision completely changed Cyril's feelings toward Chrysostom, and Cyril repented with shame because he had rashly hated Chrysostom. That is why, to his death, Cyril did everything to glorify Chrysostom as a great saint of God.


To contemplate the miraculous healing of the dumb and possessed man: As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a dumb man possessed with a devil (St. Matthew 9:32):

1. How the Lord cast the devil out of him and the dumb man spoke;

2. How the devil, with all his power, tries to make my soul dumb so that it does not glorify the Lord;

3. How the Lord, if I so desire, can cast the unclean spirit out of me with one word and make me a harp of the glory of God.


About those who love death

"All they that hate Me love death" (Proverbs 8:35).

Thus speaks the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, through His prophet. He who hates the wisdom of God, hates God, and he who hates God--what else is there for him to love except death? Is not everything outside of the Lord death? The sun and stars, the seas and mountains, animals and plants--what is all of this except dead dust formed and enlivened by the power of God, the word of God, the wisdom of God? He who does not love God not only does not love God, but also does not love anything that is from God: neither the beauty of the stars, nor the order of the seas and mountains, nor the living power that is in animals and plant life. He who does not love God removes and distances God from nature. What else then is left? Only dead, formless, dark dust--only death. Even that dust is created by God, and the blasphemer of God must return that dust to God, and that which is left over he can love. What is left over? Only that which does not touch God, i.e., death, sin and the devil. He who does not love God, in essence, loves death, sin and the devil. Every blasphemer of God is a toy of the devil, a fruit of sin, and a pawn of death.

If we despise You, O Loving Lord, we do not have anyone or anything to love. For that which we love on earth we love because of You, and the ability to love is from You. Foolish is he who loves the rays and despises the sun, and who loves a drop of water and despises the spring.

Inspire us with life-giving love for You, O our All-loving Lord.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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