The following is part of a lecture given by St. Cyril of Jerusalem to the catechumens during Lent of 347 A.D.. Presented here for the first Friday of the Lenten stations of the cross.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem: “Every deed of Christ is a cause of glorying to the Catholic Church, but Her greatest of all glorying is in the Cross; and knowing this, Paul says, But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of Christ (Gal. 6:14). For it was indeed wondrous that one who was blind from his birth should receive sight in Siloam (John 9:1-7); but what is this compared with the blind of the whole world? It was a great thing, surpassing nature, for Lazarus to rise again on the fourth day (John 11:1-44); but the grace extended to him alone, and what was it compared with the dead in sins throughout the world? It was marvelous that five loaves should pour forth food for the five thousand (Matt. 14:14-21, Mark 6:34-44, Luke 9:11-17, John 6:5-13); but what is that to those who are famishing in ignorance throughout all the world? It was marvelous that she should have been loosed who had been bound by Satan eighteen years (Luke 13:10-16); yet what is this to all of us, who were bound fast in the chains of our sins? But the glory of the Cross led those who were blind through ignorance into light, loosed all who were held fast by sin and ransomed the whole world of mankind (Matt. 20:28, Mark 10:45, 1 Tim 2:6).
“Let us then not be ashamed of the Cross of our Saviour, but rather glory in it. For the word of the Cross is to Jews a stumbling-block, and to Gentiles foolishness (1 Cor. 1:23), but to us salvation, and to them that are perishing it is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18). For it was not a mere man who died for us, as I said before, but the Son of God, God made Man. Further, if the lamb under Moses drove the destroyer far away [Passover Lamb, Ex 12:21-23], did not much rather the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29), deliver us from our sins? The blood of a silly sheep gave salvation; shall not the Blood of the Only-begotten much rather save….”
“Jesus then really suffered for all men; for the Cross was no illusion, otherwise our redemption is an illusion also. His death was not a mere show, for then our salvation is also without reality [imaginary, mythical]. If His death was but a show, they were true who said, We remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After three days I rise again (Matt. 27:63). His Passion then was real: for He was really crucified and we are not ashamed of that; He was crucified and we do not deny it, no, I rather glory to speak of it.
“I confess the Cross because I know of the Resurrection; for if, after being crucified, He had remained as He was, I might not have confessed it. I might have concealed both it and my Master, but now that the Resurrection has followed the Cross, I am not ashamed to declare it.” (St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, Excerpts from his Catechesis (Lecture 13) during lent of 347 A.D. when Cyril was still a Priest).
+ St. Cyril of Jerusalem, pray for us. +