Lent: March 18th
Optional Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop, confessor and doctor
Other Commemorations: St. Alexander of Jerusalem (RM)
"Remain in my love, says the Lord; whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty." (Jn. 15:9-5.) Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, was banished from his see on three occasions. With St. Athanasius and others, he belongs to the great champions of faith in the fight against Arianism. Famous as a teacher and preacher, he has left a series of catechetical instructions that constitute a priceless heirloom from Christian antiquity. Of the twenty-four extant discourses, nineteen were directed to catechumens during Lent as a preparation for baptism, while five so-called mystagogical instructions were given during Easter time to make the mysteries of Christianity better known to those already baptized.At Rome, the Station is at the church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, in the forum. The Christians of the middle ages were under the impression that this Station was chosen because these two saints were, by profession, physicians. The Church, according to this explanation, would not only offer up her prayers of this day for the souls, but also for the bodies of her children: she would draw down upon them the protection of these holy martyrs, who while on earth, devoted their medical skill to relieving the corporal ailments of their brethren.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Cyril of Jerusalem was given to the study of the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and made such progress that he became an eminent champion of the orthodox faith. He embraced the monastic institute and bound himself to perpetual chastity and austerity of life. He was ordained priest by St. Maximus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and undertook the work of preaching to the faithful and instructing the catechumens, in which he won the praise of all. He was the author of those truly wonderful Catechetical Instructions, which embrace clearly and fully all the teaching of the Church, and contain an excellent defense of each of the dogmas of religion against the enemies of the faith. His treatment of these subjects is so distinct and clear that he refuted not only the heresies of his own time, but also, by a kind of foreknowledge, as it were, those which were to arise later. Thus he maintains the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the adorable sacrament of the Altar. On the death of Patriarch St. Maximus, the bishops of the province chose Cyril in his place.
- Read part of St. Cyril's Catechetical Lectures On the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is very fitting meditation material for Lent.
- Watch this video on St. Cyril of Jerusalem from the Apostleship of Prayer.
- Read The Arian Heresy (Chapter Three of Hilaire Belloc's The Great Heresies).
St. Alexander of Jerusalem
Alexander was a student with Origen at the famous Christian school of Alexandria in the late second century. He became bishop of Cappadocia and during the persecution of Severus was imprisoned for several years (204-211).
- Read Book VI of Eusebius' Church History on Catholic Culture in the Fathers of the Church section. This chapter has numerous references to St. Alexander and about the persecution under Decius. There are lessons to be learned from history and our present age is also an age of martyrs.
- See also Holy Hieromartyr Alexander
Friday of the Second Week of Lent
Station with San Vitale (St. Vitalis):
The Station for today is in the church of St. Vitalis, martyr, the father of the two illustrious Milanese martyrs, Sts. Gervasius and Protasius. The church was built about 400, and consecrated by Pope Innocent I in 401/2. The dedication to St. Vitalis and his family was given in 412. The church has been rebuilt several times, of which the most comprehensive rebuilding was that of Pope Sixtus IV before the 1475 Jubilee. It was then granted to Clerics Regular.
For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.