1. SAINT CYRIL AND SAINT METHODIUS EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES
Saints Cyril and Methodius were brothers from Thessalonica of distinguished and wealthy parents, Leo and Maria. The older brother Methodius spent ten years as an officer among the Macedonian Slavs and thus learned the Slavic language. After that Methodius withdrew to Mount Olympus and dedicated himself to the monastic life of asceticism. It was here that Cyril (Constantine) later joined him. When the Khazarite king, Kagan, requested preachers of the Faith of Christ from Emperor Michael III then, by command of the emperor, these two brothers were found and sent among the Khazars. Convincing King Kagan of the Faith of Christ, they baptized him along with a great number of his chief assistants and even a greater number of the people. After a period of time, they returned to Constantinople where they compiled the Slavonic alphabet consisting of thirty-eight letters and proceeded to translate ecclesiastical books from Greek into Slavonic. At the request of Prince Rastislav, they traveled to Moravia where they spread and established the devout Faith and multiplied books and distributed them to the priests to teach the youth. At the request of the pope, Cyril traveled to Rome where he became ill and died on February 14, 867 A.D. Then Methodius returned to Moravia and labored to strengthen the Faith of Christ among the Slavs until his death. Following his death - he died in the Lord on April 6, 885 A.D. - his disciples, THE FIVE FOLLOWERS, with St. Clement, the bishop at the head, crossed the Danube River and descended to the south into Macedonia, where from Ohrid they continued their labor among the Slavs begun by Cyril and Methodius in the north.
2. THE PRIEST-MARTYR MOCIUS [MUCIUS]
Mocius was Roman by birth and a presbyter in Amphipolis, a town in Macedonia. He suffered during the reign of Diocletian. By prayer he destroyed the statue of the god Dionysius which embittered certain pagans against him and others he converted to the Faith. He was beheaded for Christ in the year 295 A.D.
3. SAINT NICODEMUS, THE ARCHBISHOP OF PEC
This great hierarch was a Serb by birth. He lived a life of asceticism on Holy
Mt. Athos and was abbot of Hilendar Monastery. Following the death of Sava III, he was elected as the Archbishop of "All the Serbs and the Coastal Lands" in the year 1317 A.D. Nicodemus crowned King Milutin in the year 1321 A.D. He translated the Jerusalem Typikon into Serbian. [The Typikon is a book containing the rubrics (directions) for the celebration of the Divine Mysteries and other offices of the Orthodox Church.] In the introduction of this book, Nicodemus says: "Almighty God, Who knows our weaknesses, will give us spiritual strength, but only if we first display effort." He sincerely loved the ascetical life and labored to strengthen it throughout the Serbian land. He labored relentlessly to uproot the Bogomil heresy and to strengthen the Orthodox Faith. He died in the Lord in the year 1325 A.D. His miracle-working relics repose in the monastery in Pec.
The Muslim leaders asked Cyril
What kind of three persons in God, were?
If God is one, from where three persons?
Our God is one, yours is three!
Cyril replies: It is not that way, it is not,
But, as the shining sun which warms at noon,
And light, warmth, its cycle has,
But a pale picture of the Divine Triade, that is,
One in essence and three divine persons
Through Christ, this truth is revealed.
Never, will a mortal man comprehend this
God Himself revealed this; this the Church teaches.
In the encampment of the Saracens they asked St. Cyril: "How could Christians wage war and at the same time keep the commandment of Christ about praying to God for their enemies?" To that, St. Cyril replied: "If two commandments were written in one law and given to men for fulfilling, which man will be a better follower of the law: the one who fulfills one commandment or the one who fulfills both?" To that, the Saracens replied: "Undoubtedly, he who fulfills both commandments." St. Cyril continued: "Christ our God commands us to pray to God for those who persecute us and even to do good to them; but, He also said to us: greater love cannot be shown in this world than if one lay down his life for his friends." "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (St. John 15:13). That is why we bear the insults which our enemies do to us individually and we pray to God for them; and, as a society, we defend one another and give up our lives, that you would not somehow enslave our brethren, would not enslave their souls with their bodies and would not kill them in body and soul.
To contemplate the action of God the Holy Spirit upon the apostles:
1. How from the simple, He makes wise;
2. How from the inarticulate, He makes them eloquent.
About the irresistible will of God
"I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it" (Jeremiah 20:9).
If anyone still doubts that God spoke through the prophets, let him read this confession of the great prophet Jeremiah and let him doubt no more. The prophet confesses that he had decided not to speak anymore in the Name of the Lord. Why? Because so few paid attention to his word. If anyone heeded his word the prophet endured "reproach and derision daily" (Jeremiah 20:8). But, when he decided to remain silent, did he, in fact, remain silent? No, he could not: "I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it!" He was so pressed by the irresistible power of the Spirit of God upon him to speak and he had to speak. It is, therefore, not the affair of the prophet whether he is going to speak or not: that is the affair of the All-powerful Spirit of God. The prophet is merely the chosen vessel of the All-powerful Spirit of God. All of Holy Scripture is written thusly - not according to the will of man but according to the will of God, and not according to the mind of man but according to the mind of God.
How does the word of God feel when it enters the prophet from the Spirit of God; this the great Jeremiah explains from his personal experience: "It becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones." That means, inspiration from the All-powerful Spirit of God. Under such irresistible internal pressure - as under the pressure of fire imprisoned in my bones - wrote the holy man of God. And many of them cried out: "I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it anymore." Who will go against the Spirit of God without punishment and destruction? Who will withstand Him when He wants to say something or to do something?
Only my brethren, the action of God the Holy Spirit is irresistible!
O All-powerful Spirit of God, direct us irresistibly on the path of salvation.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.