Daily Readings and Saint of The Day
Sts. Cyril and Methodius
Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 08:00
On Feb. 14, the universal Church honors two brothers, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who are called the â€œApostles of the Slavsâ€� for their tireless work in spreading the Gospel throughout Eastern Europe in the ninth century.Such was their influence in Church history, through their evangelization efforts, that the late Pope John Paul II named the two brothers the patron saints of Europe along with fifth century monastic leader St. Benedict.Born into a prestigious senatorial family in Thessalonica, in 827 and 826 respectively, Sts. Cyril and Methodius renounced their wealth and status. They chose instead to become priests.Both were living in a monastery on the Bosporus â€“ now known as the Istanbul strait which separates Europe and Asia â€“ when the authorities from the Khazar Empire sent to Constantinople for a Christian missionary. Cyril was chosen and was accompanied by his brother. Both learned the Khazar language and converted many of the people.Soon after the Khazar mission, there was a request from officials in Moravia â€“ a region in the present-day Czech Republic â€“Â for missionaries who could preach and celebrate liturgical services in the local dialect. Although German missionaries had already labored among the people for some time, they had little success. In order to fulfill this mission, Cyril and Methodius took the step of adapting the Greek alphabet into a script for the Slavonic language. The result was the â€œCyrillicâ€� alphabet, which was first used to translate the Bible and liturgical books. It also became the primary means of written communication for large portions of the world, including modern day Russia.The two labored in Moravia for four years until 868, achieving greater success than the German missionaries. Their Byzantine origins and use of the vernacular language caused some German church officials to regard them with suspicion. However, after being summoned to Rome they met with Pope Adrian II who warmly approved of their methods.Cyril and Methodius were commended by the pope for their missionary activity and ordained bishops. Yet Cyril would not return to Moravia, and died in Rome in 869.In order to further Methodius' work in Moravia, Pope Adrian II appointed him archbishop of a new archdiocese in the territory, independent from the German church. Unfortunately this had the effect of angering his German critics, who had him deposed and imprisoned for a period of three years.Pope Adrian's successor, John VIII, managed to have Methodius freed and had him reinstated as archbishop, after which he expanded his work to incorporate the region of modern day Poland. The new Pope continued to support Methodius' use of the Slavic languages in worship and his translations of the Bible, despite continuing controversy with some elements of the German church.Eventually, with the assistance of several Greek priests, he translated the whole Bible into the language that is known today as Church Slavonic. He chose his successor from among the native Moravian Slavs whom he had evangelized, and died on April 6 in 885.Sts. Cyril and Methodius' missionary work among the Slavs laid the essential foundation for the later Christianization of Ukraine and Russia in 988, when the Russian Prince Vladimir accepted Baptism.
Feb. 14 Memorial of Sts. Cyril, monk and St. Methodius, bishop, Memorial
Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 08:00
St. Cyril was a priest and a philosopher and accompanied his brother St. Methodius to Moravia to preach the Gospel. They both perfected a Slavonic alphabet which is now known as the Cyrillic alphabet and translated the liturgy into this language. They were summoned to Rome, where Cyril died on this date in 869, and Methodius was consecrated bishop and sent to Pannonia. He died on April 6, 885, in Velehrad, Czech Republic, after working tirelessly on spreading the Gospel. According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, their feast is celebrated on July 7.
St. Catherine de Ricci
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 08:00
The Ricci are an ancient family in Tuscany.Â Catherine was born at Florence in 1522, and called at her baptism Alexandrina, but she took the name of Catherine at her religious profession. Having lost her mother in her infancy, her father placed her in the Convent of Monticelli, near the gates of Florence, where her aunt, Louisa de Ricci, was a nun when she was between the age of six and seven. To her, this place was a paradise, but after some years her father took her home. Attracted to the religious life, and with the consent of her father,Â she received the religious veil in the convent of Dominicanesses at Prat, in Tuscany in the year 1535 at fourteen years of age.For two years she suffered inexpressible pains under a complication of violent distempers, which remedies only seemed to increase. These sufferings she sanctified by the interior disposition with which she bore them, and which she nourished by assiduous meditation on the passion of Christ. The victory over herself, and purgation of her affections was completed by a perfect spirit of prayer; for by the union of her soul with God, and the establishment of the absolute reign of his love in her heart, she was dead to and disengaged from all earthly things.The saint was chosen, whenÂ very young, first asÂ mistress of the novices, then sub-prioress, and, in the twenty-fifth year of her age, was appointed asÂ perpetual prioress. The reputation of her extraordinary sanctity and prudence drew her many visits from a great number of bishops, princes, and cardinals-among them, the Cardinals Cervini, Alexander of Medicis, and Aldobrandini, who all three were afterwards raised to St. Peter's chair, under the names of Marcellus II, Clement VIII, and Leo XI.Most wonderful were the raptures of St. Catherine in meditating on the passion of Christ, which was her daily exercise, but to which she totally devoted herself every week from Thursday noon to three o'clock in the afternoon on Friday. After a long illness she passed from this mortal life to everlasting bliss and possession of the object of all her desires on the feast of the Purification of our Lady, on the 2nd of February, in 1589, the sixty-seventh year of her age. The ceremony of her beatification was performed by Clement XII in 1732, and that of her canonization by Benedict XIV in 1746.