St. Cyril was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 370. His uncle, Theophilus, was the patriarch or archbishop. His uncle meant well, but he had a bad temper and could be stubborn at times. He couldn’t have known, as we do, that the famous John Chrysostom would be a saint some day. We celebrate St. John Chrysostom’s feast on September 13. Archbishop Theophilus was responsible for sending John into exile in 403. But the emperor brought the famous bishop back to his archdiocese of Constantinople. It seems that Cyril was influenced by his uncle’s prejudice of John, and agreed when he was sent into exile.
When his uncle died in 412, Cyril became the archbishop. He was very clear about his love for the Church and for Jesus. He was a brave man in confusing times and preached what the Church taught. He was honest and straightforward. He was not looking for praise or positions. However, Cyril could be impulsive and stubborn at times. He wanted to express the truths of the Church with his preaching and writing, and he did. But when he became upset, what he said was not always easy to follow. Of course, he was not concerned about saying things in a gentle way, so he blurted out angrily at times.
This must have caused him sorrow. Yet Christians were grateful for his many wonderful qualities. For example, he was not afraid to defend the Church and what we believe.
St. Cyril was the representative of Pope St. Celestine I at the Council of Ephesus in 431. This was an official Church meeting of over two hundred bishops. They had to study the teachings of a priest named Nestorius. The Council explained clearly that Nestorius was wrong about some important truths we believe. The pope gave him ten days to say he would not keep preaching his mistakes. But Nestorius would not give in. The Council explained to the people of God that we could not accept the mistakes. The bishops were so clear in their explanation that these false teachings would never again be a major threat.
The people were very grateful to St. Cyril of Alexandria who led the Council meetings. Nestorius went quietly back to his monastery and stopped confusing people. Cyril went back to his archdiocese and worked hard for the Church until he died in 444. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed St. Cyril a Doctor of the Church in 1883.
God’s grace is enough for us. Our weaknesses magnifies the power of God in our lives and how He can create situation that benefits us a lot. Do we allow ourselves to be dominated by our temper and all sorts of human frailty to be the master of our very lives?
Father, through the intercession of Saint Cyril. Open our hearts to understand your teaching and help us to become one in faith and praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.