Thoughts for the Day

Friday, 28th June 2024: Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, Teacher, 444 CE

Orthodox Church Proverbs 4 Saint Cyril Jesus Christ

Reading : Verses from Proverbs, Chapter 4


Listen, children, to a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight;
for I give you good precepts:
do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father,
tender, and my mother’s favourite,
he taught me, and said to me,
Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight: do not forget, nor turn away
from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever else you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honour you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a fair garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


Cyril was born in Alexandria. As a priest he succeeded his Uncle as Patriarch in the year 412 and began his great defence of the orthodox doctrines of God; the Holy Trinity; and on Jesus Christ as a unique single Person, at once God and human. His chief opponent was the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, who taught that there were two separate Persons co-existing in Jesus, one divine and the other human. The Nestorian Party therefore rejected Mary's position in the Orthodox Church as the "God-bearer". They also rejected the papal ruling that they comply with Cyril's position that the union between divinity and humanity was total and real. The Council of Ephesus was convened in 431 to rule on the matter and gave its support to Cyril. His writing reflects his outstanding qualities as a theologian, his arguments were precise, his thoughts and reasoning persuasive. He died at Alexandria in 444 CE.

If we find this account rather dull, we should reflect that for the two hundred years between Irenaeus and Cyril Christians had been contending the whole issue of The Trinity and particularly the place of Jesus Christ. The words we say casually each week in the Nicene Creed were hotly contested at the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. At that time it was Arius who had offered another heresy. He believed that Jesus was the Son of God, begotten (ie made) by the Father, but that He did not always exist so he was not co-eternal with God the Father. A hundred year's later by the time of Cyril many of these doctrines were still live debates, and Bishops and priests were martyred for their beliefs.

So how do we know that our beliefs are true? I would say by listening to Teachers like Cyril, and their equivalent today, and primarily through prayer. We also need to keep our minds open to what God is teaching us today.


Collect for Teachers of the Faith and Spiritual writers

Almighty God,
who enlightened Your Church
by the teaching of Your servant Cyril,
enrich it evermore with Your heavenly grace
and raise up faithful witnesses,
who, by their life and teaching,
may proclaim the truth of Your salvation.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to look at this list of Christian heresies (for fun), as denounced by different denominations:

Or this article on the Orthodox Church:

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