Saintly Sunday

Saintly Sunday:

This reading is in support of the St Thomas mission to support the Year of Faith and the Emeritus Pontiff’s call for mission.

Two days ago the Slavic people celebrated the 1150th anniversary of the arrival to Great Moravia of the missionaries Cyril and Methodius. In the 9th century these two brothers from Thessaloniki were sent at the request of King Rastislav to the land of Great Moravia. Great Moravia was heavily under the influence of the Germanic powers of the day and Christianity was in its infancy in the region.

The lands under Great Moravia were extensive, extending into the Balkans and into territories, which are now part of the Ukraine. The people who lived throughout the land were not formally educated and few spoke any other language than their local Slav dialect. The brothers, being familiar with the Slav language from an earlier mission, upon learning of their tasking, sat down and started to develop an alphabet. This alphabet resembled in many ways the Greek alphabet. The alphabet they developed was the Glagolitic alphabet, which was the foundation for Old Church Slavonic. The alphabet later evolved into the Cyrillic alphabet and Old Church Slavonic became the mother tongue for the Slavic languages we know today, Czech, Slovak and Russian among them.

Their translation of the Scriptures and conduct of the liturgy in the local language, were revolutionary. To imagine, that we were still conducting services in Latin until the 1960s, while these two revolutionaries were changing the rules back in the late 800s.

During their spare time, these two brothers also wrote the first Civil Code, which brought the rule of law and basic rules of society to the vast Slavic Kingdom.

The were venerated and treated as Saints almost immediately after their deaths, but recognized formally as saints within the Roman Catholic church in 1880.

It certainly was a long wait for recognition of their contributions and their presence in the afterlife within the Grace of our God. For you see, we recognize as Saints those people who through their actions in life and intercessions after death give us great assurances of their presence in heaven. This in short is what being a saint is. It is their presence in the Grace of God in Heaven that gives us reason to invoke the names of Saints and to ask for their intercession through prayer. This is a nut shell is the Communion of Saints.

Speaking of Saints, this past week saw our new Pontiff confirm the elevation of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII to Saint. Since these Popes lived in the 20th Century, their wait was not quite as long as our Cyril and Methodius.

In recognizing through canonization the work and lives of these two outstanding Popes, Pope Francis is also bringing different parts of the church together. This is just one more action in a line of actions that we could consider reformist.

Finally, Pope Francis has allowed; I guess we could say even pushed the head of the Vatican Bank to resign, as well as his deputy. You see, His Holy Father spoke of currents of corruption and last week, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who was the deputy of the Vatican Bank was arrested in an attempt to transport 20 million Euro in cash into Italy, on a government plane. This did not transpire and the Monsignor is in custody.

We have spoken previously about reformist and rebels. We spoke about how Christ himself went against the norms and beliefs of his day.

Pope John XXIII reformed the church through Vatican II, allowing us to return to the simple beliefs of Cyril and Methodius, in that those taking part should understand the Liturgy.

Pope John Paul II, brought the church back into the world’s eye, raising the profile and preaching of mission and evangelism.

Pope Francis has started the heavy lifting of making our “Catholic” or “Universal” church a modern transparent organization focused on the life and actions of Christ.

May we all pray for his success. If so, we may not have centuries to wait before another Pope is canonized in the future.

God Bless.