About the Commemoration
Cyril, one of the most attractive Christian leaders of the fourth century, was born near Jerusalem ca. 315. He was ordained priest about 345 and despite his youth was entrusted with the preparation of candidates for baptism, a task that bishops generally reserved for themselves. The Catechetical Lectures he delivered before Easter in 347 are justly famous and are the clearest surviving exposition of the early Church’s teaching of adults who presented themselves for the rites of initiation. Cyril became Bishop of Jerusalem probably in 349 and held that office until his death on March 18, 386. He spent sixteen of those thirty-seven years in exile, having been deposed and subsequently reinstated three times during the stormy doctrinal controversies of the period.
Jerusalem was the principal focus for pilgrimage, and it is likely that Cyril organized the devotions and instituted the observances of Palm Sunday and Holy Week during the latter years of his episcopate in Jerusalem. As Christians returned home, they took with them the liturgies of Holy Week and so the observance of those holy days spread throughout the Church. The renewed rites of Holy Week in the several Christian churches derive in large measure from Cyril’s understanding and work.
Cyril is included on the General Roman Calendar, the calendar in the Book of Common Prayer, and the Methodist For All the Saints. He is also on the 1962 German Evangelical Calendar of Names.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
See also: Cyril of Jerusalem
From the Catechetical Lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem, 3, 1-3
“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice.” [Ps. 96:11] For these people who are about to be sprinkled with hyssop will be cleansed spiritually. His power will purify them, for during his passion the hyssop touched his lips. Let the heavenly angels rejoice. Let those who are about to be wedded to a spiritual spouse prepare themselves. “A voice cries out, ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.’” [Isa. 40:3] And so, children of righteousness, follow John’s exhortation, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” Remove all obstacles and stumbling blocks so that you will be able to travel straight along the road to eternal life. Through a sincere faith prepare yourselves to receive the Holy Spirit. Wash your garments through repentance, so that when you are summoned to the spouse’s bedchamber, you will be found spotless.
Heralds proclaim the Bridegroom’s invitation and summon all humanity to the wedding feast, for he is a generous lover. Once the crowd has assembled, the bridegroom marks out those who will enter the wedding feast. This is sacramentally effected through baptism.
Give your name at the gate and enter. I hope that none of you will later hear the words, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” [Matt. 22:11] Rather may all of you hear the words, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” [Matt. 25:21]
Up to this point in the history of salvation you have stood outside the gate. Now I hope you will all hear the words, “The king has brought me into his chambers. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior. He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and in the cloak of joy. He has made me a bridegroom by placing a crown on my head. He has made me a bride by adorning me with jewels and golden ornaments.” [Song of Sol. 1:4; Luke 1:46; Isa. 61:10]
…[T]his is a truly great occasion. Approach it with caution. You are standing in front of God and in the presence of the hosts of angels. The Holy Spirit is about to impress his seal on each of your souls. You are about to be pressed into the service of a great King.
And so prepare yourselves to receive the sacrament, not with the gleaming white garments you are about to put on, but rather with the devotion of a clean conscience.
Trans. PHP. based on A Short Breviary by the monks of St. John’s Abbey and the English translation of the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy.
O Lord our God, through Cyril of Jerusalem you led your church to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of salvation: Strengthen the bishops of your church in their calling to be teachers and ministers of the Sacraments, so that they may effectively instruct your people in Christian faith and practice; and that we, taught by them, may enter more fully into the celebration of the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
PHP, RS + LFF
Readings: Psalm 122 or 34:1-8; Ecclesiasticus 47:8-10; Luke 24:44-48
Hymn of the Day: “All who believe and are baptized” (H82 298, LBW 194, LSB 601, ELW 442) or “Baptized into your name most holy” (LBW 192, LSB 590)
Prayers: For the Patriarch of Jerusalem; For the peace of Jerusalem and for reconciliation between Arabs and Jews; For all Christians in Jerusalem, that their unity may increase and that their witness to the love of Christ may be seen by all.
Preface: Dedication of a Church (BCP)