MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT THE SLOVENIAN CATHOLIC MISSION, KEW, ON SUNDAY, 12 JULY 2009 AT 9 A.M., FOR THE FEAST OF SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am honoured to be with Father Cyril Bozic and each of you as today we honour your two great patrons, Saints Cyril and Methodius.
They are renowned throughout the world for their learning, their great missionary zeal and their love of Jesus Christ, which they carried to your own country and beyond. God always chooses great witnesses as founders of faith. It is for this reason that we pay particular honour to Saints Cyril and Methodius.
As we call to mind our sins, let us pray that our knowledge of faith will be deepened by their learning, our love of God will be strengthened by their sacrifice, and our zeal for the kingdom of heaven will remain constant amidst the challenges of a materialistic, modern world.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
You are indeed fortunate to have as your patrons in Slovenia two great teachers of the Slavic peoples who were both outstanding figures of the 9th century Church. Constantine, whose name was later changed to Cyril, was born at Thessalonica in 826, the youngest of seven children. His older brother, Methodius, also joined in his mission. Cyril would later die at Rome as a young man of forty-three, while Methodius would live another sixteen years to continue their mission.
Cyril was a brilliant scholar with a talent for philosophy, a librarian, and professor in the university. Methodius was a government official and later a monk at the monastery on Mount Olympus. In 861 the brothers went to discover a relic of Pope Saint Clement the First, said to be on the boundaries of the Caspian Sea where the Khazars were hesitating between Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
In 862 Ratislav, the Duke of Greater Moravia, which includes present day Slovakia, wished to establish an independent church and sought to establish a Slavonic liturgy. Cyril and Methodius, not only instructed the Slavs in their own tongue, but shared their great spiritual gifts and learning in union with Rome. They had been invited to Rome by Pope Nicholas, who had subsequently died. Pope Adrian II approved the Slavonic liturgy and ordained Methodius and some of their disciples. However, during this visit to Rome Cyril became ill and took the monastic habit before his death at forty-three. His body is finally buried at San Clemente in Rome.
Methodius continued the work that they had established for another sixteen years, returning to work among the Slavic people, promoting the Slavonic liturgy and guiding the people along the way of Jesus Christ. The outreach of Cyril and Methodius to the Slavic peoples is considered so significant for the modern Church that their feast day has been observed throughout the Universal Church since 1888.
Their example to us is one of absolute fidelity to the faith that comes from the apostles and dedication to the Slavic peoples. Theirs is an eloquent testimony of the strong faith that you know in Slovenia and which you have planted in this modern land of Australia.
Each of us is called to live the faith that comes from the apostles. It is these two towering figures of Cyril and Methodius, their missionary endeavour, despite huge challenges, their loyalty to the papacy and their fundamental love of Jesus Christ that challenged them to give of their all, which shines like a beacon in today’s confused, modern world.
My dear friends, I am honoured to be with you on this day when we recognise the significance of these two men of great faith and striving. We seek in our own lives to be faithful to that same gift, to that same initiative of God coming to meet us in Jesus Christ and carrying it to the world.
May the faith, hope and l