Saturday, 13 February 2016

Sts Cyril and Methodius, Patrons of Europe

Whilst the secular world has requisitioned 14th February as Valentine's Day (is the dropping of the "saint" perhaps significant?), the western Church marks the day as the Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius. These are two of six patron saints of Europe.

At a time when it is some of the countries in the Eastern part of Europe that face a particular challenge from population movement, it might be appropriate on Sunday to keep in prayer these countries that their governments and peoples might adopt just and compassionate responses to the migrants arriving at their borders. That prayer might also extend to the more prosperous countries of northern Europe that they might be generous in their welcome and support of refugees.

At a time when the representatives of the United Kingdom are seeking to renegotiate that country's relationship with the European Union we might also keep in prayer the discussions due to take place at a summit meeting later this week. We should seek positions based on the common good of all the peoples of Europe, and not the political self interest of individuals or movements in political parties that are largely based on perceptions more or less motivated by selfishness.

When Pope John Paul II declared Sts Cyril and Methodius to be co-patrons of Europe in 1980, he wrote:
Questa proclamazione vuole in pari tempo essere una testimonianza, per gli uomini del nostro tempo, della preminenza dell'annuncio del Vangelo, affidato da Gesù Cristo alle Chiese, per il quale hanno faticato i due fratelli apostoli degli slavi. Tale annuncio è stato via e strumento di reciproca conoscenza e di unione fra i diversi popoli dell'Europa nascente, ed ha assicurato all'Europa di oggi un comune patrimonio spirituale e culturale.
[This proclamation intends at the same time to be a witness, for the people of our time, of the pre-eminence of the preaching of the Gospel, entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Churches, for which the two brothers, apostles of the Slavs, worked strenuously. This preaching became the way and instrument of the reciprocal understanding and union among the different peoples of nascent Europe, and has assured for Europe today a common spiritual and cultural heritage.]
The collect for the celebration of the Feast in European dioceses is, which we might pray to particularly seek their intercession for Europe today that its nations and peoples might respond to the present challenges in a way that respects its common spiritual and cultural heritage rather than selfish interests:
O God, who enlightened the Slavic peoples through the brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius, grant that our hearts may grasp the words of your teaching, and perfect us as a people of one accord in true faith and right confession.

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