Cyril of Alexander and Irenaeus of
It just so happens that these two major early Fathers of the Church
are celebrated on the consecutive dates June 27th and 28th.
What makes it interesting is that they will both be part of the ‘best seller in the making’ of Benedict XVI.
From the year 2006, the Holy Father has been using his weekly Wednesday Audiences to give a substantial sketch of the Apostles, fathers and Doctors of the Church.
Cases in point are the feasts of Irenaeus and Cyril of Alexandria, the one a voice of gentle clarity in the Gnostic polemics, the other a fiery controversialist with the Nestorians.
Ironically Irenaeus, the friend of Pope and of dissidents, living up to his name of PEACE and reconciliation, in a later century, 1562, having his shrine in
Cyril, much later, and noted for his more robust or aggressive attitudes receives the most scathing comment on his achievements, that IF he had been more patient and diplomatic Nestorianism might not have arisen or continued so long.
Their lives make an interesting contrast and Pope Benedict XVI personal insight into Church of the Fathers will make it all the more enthralling and instructive.
In his Audiences the Pope is explaining to the faithful not so much the “what” of the Church, but the “who,” beginning with those who guided it during the first centuries, building up the great Tradition from which the Church of today draws. He highlights each time not only the originality but also the perennial relevance of the work of each Father of the Church.
Here is what the Pope has systematically presented to date:
In the manner of prolegomena
Christ and the Church
The Apostles, Witnesses of Christ’
The Gift of "Communion"
Safeguarding the Gift of Communion
Communion in Time: Tradition
The Apostolic Tradition of the Church
The Apostolic Succession
The Sub-Apostolic continuation
Fathers of the Church
Papal Audiences, Wednesday 2006-2008
See Vatican Website
3 May 2006, The Apostolic Tradition of the Church
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Man Fully Alive is the Glory of God
The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. For this reason God, who cannot be grasped, comprehended or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men, that he may give life to those who see and receive him. It is impossible to live without life, and the actualization of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness.
The Word became the steward of the Father’s grace for the advantage of men, for whose benefit he made such wonderful arrangements. He revealed God to men and presented men to God. He safeguarded the invisibility of the Father to prevent man from treating God with contempt and to set before him a constant goal toward which to make progress. On the other hand, he revealed God to men and made him visible in many ways to prevent man from being totally separated from God and so cease to be. Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation gives life to all who live upon the earth, much more does the manifestation of the Father through the Word give life to those who see God.
The following quote is from the New Catholic Encyclopedia and it expresses Cyril's theme.
"Only if it is the one and the same Christ who is consubstantial with the Father and with men can He save us for the meeting ground between God and man is the flesh of Christ. Only if this is God's own flesh can man come into contact with Christ's divinity through his humanity. Because of our kinship with the Word made flesh we are sons of God. The Eucharist consummates our kinship with the word, our communion with the Father, our sharing in the divine nature-there is very real contact between our body and that of the Word."
More than himself, God could not give. Less than himself, he would not give. We can state that God could not give any less. God gives each person the necessary time to find the Deity and that can be for some a lifetime while for others it is everyday. Merely to receive the Eucharist, but once, is an invaluable and precious gift, but God calls some to a greater good daily. But, to whom much is given, much shall be required.
Above, Pope Benedict XVI’s view of Cyril of Alexandria is that of the very clear cut DOCTOR of the Church. The sculpture of Cyril in the Basilica of Prague portrays, in violent contrast, a very different aspect. A description from ‘catholic.com’ does not mince words on the redoubtable over forceful ecclesiastic. The description expresses it rather humorously. See opposite
“One of four Roccoco statues c. 1760 by Frantisek Ingac Platzer of the eastern Church Fathers that stand in front of the four supporting pillars of the dome .
This sculpture is St. Cyril of
He is considered to be a top drawer theologian, writing many highly regarded treatises. Quite a number of these were clarifications on the doctrine of the trinity ensuring that Nestorianism would never gain credence in Christian tradition. Cyril and Nestorius really didn't get on.”