So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cyril & Methodius: to the Slavs via Rome.

Cyril & Methodius
Sources: Catholic Encyclopedia and OrthodoxWiki.

Cyril (b. Constantine) & Methodius (b. Michael), the Apostles of the Slavs, were born in Thessalonica in A.D. 827 and A.D. 826 respectively. They renounced the secular honours attached to their senatorial family and became priests.

The Khazars appealed to Constantinople for a Christian teacher. In A.D. 860, Emperor Michael III and Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, sent the brothers to the Khagan (or khan/ruler) of the Khazars on a missionary expedition in what turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt to convince the Khagan to embrace Judaism. Cyril and Methodius learned the Khazar language and, though the Khagan chose Judaism for his people, many of the people converted to Christianity through the efforts of the brothers.

Shortly after the mission to the Khazar concluded, a request was made by the Moravians for help. German missionaries had previously worked among them, but without success. The Moravians wanted a teacher who could teach them the Faith and celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Slavonic language. Cyril and Methodius were chosen because they were familiar with the language.

Cyril invented an alphabet and with the help of Methodius translated the Gospels and the necessary liturgical books into Slavonic. The brothers went to Moravia in A.D. 863 and laboured there successfully for four and a half years. Unfortunately, the Germans distrusted the them because they had come from Constantinople (Guilty by association?) where schism was rife and because they celebrated Mass (the Divine Liturgy) in Slavonic. The brothers were summoned to Rome by Pope Nicholas I who died before their arrival. Adrian II, Pope Nicholas' successor, received them in charity. Pope Adrian was convinced of the brothers' orthodoxy. He approved their missionary activity, sanctioned the Liturgy in Slavonic and consecrated Cyril and Methodius bishops. Cyril, however, did not return to Moravia. He died in Rome on February 4th in the Year of Our Lord 869.

The Moravian princes Rastislav and Svatopluk, and the Slav Prince Kocel of Pannonia, requested that Pope Adrian II form an Archdiocese of Moravia and Pannonia. The Holy Father made the new archdiocese independent of the German Church and appointed Methodius its first archbishop. In A.D. 870, Methodius was summoned to a synod at Ratisbon by King Louis (interference by the state!) and the German bishops (Cardinal Kasper, et al, are you listening?). Methodius was deposed and condemned to prison. After three years he was freed at the command of Pope John VIII and reinstated as Archbishop of Moravia. However, after he was reinstated Methodius was summoned to Rome again (A.D. 878) to confront the allegations of the German priest Walter Kasper Wiching who impugned his orthodoxy and objected to the use of Slavonic in the Divine Liturgy. After an inquiry, Pope John VIII confirmed the Slavonic Liturgy. Pope John VIII decreed, however, that the Holy Gospel should be read first in Latin and then in Slavonic.

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