Homily on the Occasion of the Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius

12. 3. 2013


I have decided to address you this way because I want to include all those who are present here; all those who are listening to us on the radio and those who are watching us on TV. I want to address everybody the way they are, in the simple reality of their humanity. I want to talk to people, not to mummers they pretend to be in the pride of their social status, power, superiority of titles, or, on the contrary, in the timorousness and feeling of insufficiency or even in their slyness of a predator who wants to gain attention of its prey. Because this day and this festivity require of me to talk about a reality that can only be approached in truth. A celebration of saints is always a chance to understand oneself because every saint is a witness to Truth and a role model to follow. From the many gifts and founders' activities of Saints Cyril and Methodius I have chosen five we should consider.

1) The Glagolitic alphabet, our first Slavic script, has been often spoken about. For our country the important fact is that they allowed us to record our history, even though now we have been using the Latin alphabet for more than a thousand of years already. Constantine's famous statement saying that naked are nations without books and as if ready to become a prey - which talks about the importance of the Bible in the struggle with evil - we can apply also to other cases and to understand it in such a way that a nation, which has not recorded its history and does not remember anything from its history and cannot learn from the experience of ancestors, is seriously threatened. This is exactly our case. History does not repeat itself but mistakes do. Gottwald and Husák will not come back. K. H. Frank with Moravec and Otta Braniborský will not return but there are again some people among us who act in such a way that they can bring to power a new dictator. So far, it is not necessary to point a finger at anybody and attack anybody but it is important to take a firm stand against lies, slander, envy, greed and the like. They could enslave us.

2) The first Slavic code has not been sufficiently remembered. It was Methodius' work and a supporting post of our statehood. It was a brief, firm statutory code with a clear intention of the lawgiver, according to which - as a legal principle arising from generally accepted decency - a judge could solve individual cases and help the disputing parties to attain reconciliation and help everybody to achieve justice. We have lost that firm legal code. Legislation is chaotic, justice is in the hands of those who play with words. Our uncertainty regarding law is proportional to the wanton immorality of society – beware, we are its members. Justice is attained in a difficult way and slowly. Where there is no justice, there is neither peace nor freedom.

3) Also the fact that the first thing Constantine and Methodius were supposed to do was to establish a school, remains undervalued. They knew they were expected to educate the country where they came, and not to turn it to faith. They came to a country which was already Christian. They knew that faith was a gift from God but they also knew that gift was closer to an educated person than to an uneducated one. An intelligent person seeks instruction. He wants to learn and to get to know. An unreasonable person does not bother himself with thinking. He understands everything masterfully and if he is strong enough, he also rules everything. If there are more unreasonable people, who are strong enough, they begin to solve problems by wooing and irrelevant quarrels among opportunists. This is our case. At school in Great Moravia students learned to think. It was not any ideological pep talk. Constantine was a philosopher, philologist and grammatician. Methodius was a lawyer. Both were renowned scientists of their time. If we do not realize that at schools it is important to learn and educate, the next but one generation will accuse us of placing a great number of incompetent people into life who are, nevertheless, very effective when it comes to destroying the order. If we do not realize that solutions are either right or wrong, relevant or irrelevant, and if we keep using political solutions, we will go from one mistake to another. To sum it up: if we do not protect thinking, we will cease to be truly human. There will not be anybody whom we could address as people. There will be only animals – beasts and prey.

4) In Prague, I must mention that Saint Methodius baptized Prince Bořivoj, even though Christianity had been spreading in Bohemia even before that. Despite the fact that the country was not fully Christian after his baptism, it was an important milestone. The court of the Prince received the new attitude to life, clearly characterized with an emphasis on the spiritual dimension of man, which goes beyond biological life full of pleasures, finished with death. In the era of consumerist lifestyle, which is wrapped up in the material dimension of life, we should take interest also in that. Even though it calls for welfare, it is an expression of the culture of death because it claims a right to kill - once out of convenience, another time under the pretex of mercy. In ancient Rome, contraceptive practices and assisted suicides were a herald of doom.

5) Finally, we have to ask why Saints Cyril and Methodius were so successful in their mission. The answer is simple. They brought a higher kind of culture and, above all, more human attitudes, which were better, including economic results. All of us should think about the reason why that, which was more human, was better in all respects, and Christians present here should, moreover, devise a way how to show it to others.

Thus, we have all these five points together. If you now kindly gather your wits, you will be in your right mind and we could begin, I want to say advance in the Cyrillo-Methodian tradition. However, it will be a long and demanding journey, and that is why we should strengthen ourselves for it from the rich table of Christ's mercy. Let us enter the celebration of the mystery of His sacrifice, death and victorious resurrection. Let us thank to Saints Cyril and Methodius because thanks to them we can understand these mysteries in an easier way because we perform them in our mother tongue. Amen.

Fr. Prof. Petr Piťha, Provost of the Collegiate Chapter of All Saints at Prague Castle

Author: Aleš Pištora
Source: Press Center of the Czech Bishops' Conference, link here


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  • Here are our roots.

    (Blessed John Paul II, 22nd April 1990, Velehrad)

    They wanted to become part of those nations and to share their destiny in everything. Here, in this place, at Velehrad, in Moravia, we can feel the historical legacy of the kingdom in a peculiar way – we can feel even those who became its keepers and guardians.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • For us, people of the present age, their apostolate contains even the elocution of the ecumenical appeal, i.e. to build unity again, in a peaceful reconciliation, which later after their deaths was heavily damaged, and in the first place the unity between the East and the West.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • Their work is also a very important contribution to the growth of the common Christian roots of Europe, which by their firmness and viability create one of the main contact points, which must be respected by every serious attempt at reunification of our continent in a new and topical way.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • The story of both brothers, Cyril and Methodius, is a distinct example of unity.

    Saints Cyril and Methodius contributed, to a great extent, to the building of Europe, not only regarding its Christian religious community but also concerning its civil and cultural unity.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

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