The Gospel with Cyril and Methodius

Central and Western Europe remembers the two "missionary" brothers

The beginning of July in Slovakia, Czech republic and other countries marked by the evangelizing efforts of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, is traditionally filled by number of celebrations commemorating the spiritual and cultural heritage of these Thessalonian brothers – co-patrons of Europe – who brought Christian faith to the Slavic nations almost 12 centuries ago. In Slovakia, the commemoration of their arrival to the region of Great Moravia 1151 years ago, has a special flavour this year, for it falls into the framework of celebrations of the Holy Year of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows – patroness of the nation. “Double gift”. According to cardinal Jozef Tomko, former prefect of Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the aim of the mission of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, who came upon the invitation by prince Rastislav in the 10th century, was to “fully develop Christian faith among Slavic nations”. To evangelize in places where other priests have not succeeded before, because they didn’t speak the language of these nations. Thus, the first steps of the two brothers was to translate the Bible, for which they had to invent a new type of scripture – hlaholics. They have brought a double gift to the old Slavs – the new scripture and the God’s Word. “We can say that our predecessors have got to the cultural stage of Europe through the acceptation of the God’s Word announced by Cyril and Methodius”, explains cardinal Tomko, emphasizing that our contemporary faith as a basic value of life, inherited thanks to the effort of the two saints, should reflect in our personal, family and social life: “Only this way it can penetrate the culture and humanize it. This effective model of inculturation, invented by Ss. Cyril and Methodius, is necessary to implement also today, so that their heritage does not remain just words, but a power for everyday Christian life”. President of the Council for Youth and Universities of the Bishops’ conference of Slovakia, Mons. Tomás Galis, speaks about the need to educate young people in various aspects of cyrilo-methodian message for the sake of our future generations, especially in a form of deeds of love, solidarity and tireless spreading of the Gospel. “Let’s meet Christ in our parish communities. May living in accordance with his Word change our lives and lead us to share our experiences with others”, invites the prelate. Work of love and dedication. Being a Catholic in the heart of Europe means a sort of dilemma these days, but in a very positive way. There are hundreds of events taking place in all corners of the country at the occasion of the feast of Ss. Cyril and Methodius and one may have difficulties to choose among them. The ancient diocesan seat of Nitra, closely associated with evangelizing mission of the Thessalonian brothers, becomes traditionally a center of national celebrations every year on 5 July. Also this year it saw presence of several thousand people gathered below the castle. According to local bishop Mons. Viliam Judák, traces of cyrilo-methodian tradition in Slovak history have not only strengthened the ties of this nation to Rome, but have deepened its conscience and knowledge of its own past: “That’s why these values remain the source of renewal of the spiritual strength that has kept us alive and faithful for the whole millenium”. A special guest – Mons. Stanis³aw Budzik, archbishop metropolitan of Lublin in Poland, focused his sermon on the cyrilo-methodian heritage as the element of unity among modern Slavic nations. “Today we uncover our Christian roots again. This should be an impulse for the renewal and strengthening or our faith, impulse to make God the center of our life and to accept the Christ’s call to go and make all the people his disciples”, said Mons. Budzik. Also the Marian Hill in Levoca witnessed the presence of many pilgrims last weekend. About half a million of them celebrated the feast of Ss. Cyril and Methodius and venerated Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in the Basilica of Visitation of Virgin Mary at the same time. The range of activities in honour of the two saints continues this week in a form of holy masses, prayer meetings, exhibitions, theatre performances and recitals, not to mention creation of interesting artistic pieces. For all of them just one example: visitors of St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava can admire a new window-pane inspired by Ss. Cyril and Methodius – a “colourful reminder” of their work of love and dedication.

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