OREMUS: 14 February 2009

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Fri Feb 13 17:00:00 GMT 2009

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OREMUS for Saturday, February 14, 2009
Cyril and Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 and 885

Lord, open our lips,
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, O God,
through Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd.
In the waters of baptism you give us new birth,
at your table you nourish us with heavenly food,
and in your goodness and mercy
you guide us beyond the terrors of evil and death
to your Father's home to dwell in eternal light.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 
Psalm 1

Happy are they who have not walked
   in the counsel of the wicked,*
 nor lingered in the way of sinners,
   nor sat in the seats of the scornful!
Their delight is in the law of the Lord,*
 and they meditate on his law day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water,
   bearing fruit in due season,
   with leaves that do not wither;*
 everything they do shall prosper.
It is not so with the wicked:*
 they are like chaff which the wind blows away;
Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright
   when judgement comes,*
 nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,*
 but the way of the wicked is doomed.

Psalm 125

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,*
 which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever.
The hills stand about Jerusalem;*
 so does the Lord stand round about his people,
   from this time forth for evermore.
The sceptre of the wicked shall not hold sway
   over the land allotted to the just,*
 so that the just shall not put their hands to evil.
Show your goodness, O Lord, to those who are good*
 and to those who are true of heart.
As for those who turn aside to crooked ways,
   the Lord will lead them away with the evildoers;*
 but peace be upon Israel.

A Song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2.1,2,3b5,7,8)

My heart exults in the Lord;  
my strength is exalted in my God. 
My mouth derides my enemies,  
because I rejoice in your salvation. 
There is no Holy One like you, O Lord,  
nor any Rock like you, our God. 
For you are a God of knowledge  
and by you our actions are weighed. 
The bows of the mighty are broken,  
but the feeble gird on strength. 
Those who were full now hire themselves out for bread,  
but those who were hungry are well fed. 
The barren woman has borne sevenfold,  
but she who has many children is forlorn. 
Both the poor and the rich are of your making;  
you bring low and you also exalt. 
You raise up the poor from the dust,  
and lift the needy from the ash heap. 
You make them sit with the rulers  
and inherit a place of honour. 
For the pillars of the earth are yours  
and on them you have set the world.

Psalm 150

   Praise God in his holy temple;*
 praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts;*
 praise him for his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the blast of the ram'shorn;*
 praise him with lyre and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and dance;*
 praise him with strings and pipe.
Praise him with resounding cymbals;*
 praise him with loudclanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath*
 praise the Lord.

FIRST READING [Genesis 6:5-8, 13-22]:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favour in the sight of the Lord. And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.’ Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

Words: Theoctistus, ca. 890; trans. John Mason Neale, 1862
Tune: Werde munter

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Jesus, Name all names above,
Jesus, best and dearest;
Jesus, Fount of perfect love,
holiest, tenderest, nearest:
Jesus, Source of grace completest;
Jesus purest, Jesus sweetest;
Jesus, Well of power divine,
make me, keep me, seal me thine!

Woe that I have turned aside
after fleshly pleasure!
Woe that I have never tried
for the heavenly treasure!
Treasure, safe in homes supernal,
incorruptible, eternal;
treasure no less price hath won
than the passion of the Son!

Jesus, crowned with thorns for me,
scourged for my transgression!
Witnessing, through agony,
that thy good confession!
Jesus, clad in purple raiment,
for my evils making payment:
let not all thy woe and pain,
let not Calvary be in vain!

Jesus, open me the gate
that of old he entered
who, in that most low estate,
wholly on thee ventured;
thou, whose wounds are ever pleading
and thy passion interceding,
from my misery let me rise
to a home in paradise!

SECOND READING [Mark 7:14-23]:

Then Jesus called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.’ 

When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, ‘Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, ‘It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’ 

The Benedictus (Morning), 
the Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

Blessed are you, eternal God,
to be praised and glorified for ever.

Hear us as we pray for your holy Catholic Church:
make us all one, that the world may believe.

Grant that every member of the Church
may truly and humbly serve you:
that the life of Christ may be revealed in us.

Strengthen all who minister in Christ(s name:
give them courage to proclaim your Gospel.

Inspire and lead those who hold authority
in the nations of the world:
guide them in the ways of justice and peace.

Make us alive to the needs of our community:
help us to share each other(s joys and burdens.

Look with kindness on our homes and families:
grant that your love may grow in our hearts.

Deepen our compassion for all who suffer 
from sickness, grief or trouble:
in your presence may they find their strength.

We remember those who have died:
may they rest in your peace.

We praise you for all your saints 
who have entered your eternal glory:
bring us all to share in your heavenly kingdom.

Christ my God, 
set my heart on fire with love in you, 
that in its flame I may love you 
with all my heart, with all my mind, 
and with all my soul and with all my strength, 
and my neighbor as myself, 
so that by keeping your commandments 
I may glorify you, 
the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, 
by the power of the Holy Spirit you moved 
your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius 
to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people: 
Overcome all bitterness and strife among us 
by the love of Christ, 
and make us one united family 
under the banner of the Prince of Peace;
Jesus Christ our Lord, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

The God of love who calls us,
guide us this day and always:
his might uphold us,
his love enfold us,
his peace empower us;
in Jesus' Name. Amen.

The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing sentence are adapted from
prayers reprinted from _Revised Common Lectionary Prayers_,
copyright (c) 2002 Consultation on Common Texts.

The first collect is from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The second collect is from _The Proper for the Lesser Feasts and Fasts_, 3rd edition, (c) 1980 The Church Pension Fund.

Cyril (originally Constantine) and Methodius were brothers, from a noble
family in Thessalonika, a district in northeastern Greece. Constantine was the
younger, born in about 827, and his brother Methodius in about 825. They
both entered the priesthood. Constantine undertook a mission to the Arabs,
and then became a professor of philosophy at the imperial school in
Constantinople and librarian at the cathedral of Santa Sophia. Methodius
became governor of a district that had been settled by Slavs. Both brothers
then retired to monastic life. In about 861, the Emperor Michel III sent them to
work with the Khazars northeast of the Black Sea in the Dnieper-Volga region
of what was later Russia. They learned the Khazar language and made many
converts, and discovered what were believed to be relics of Clement, an early
Bishop of Rome.
In about 863, Prince Rotislav, the ruler of Great Moravia (in today's Czech
Republic), asked the emperor for missionaries, specifying that he wanted
someone who would teach his people in their own language (he had western
missionaries, but they used only Latin). The emperor and the Patriarch Photius
sent Methodius and his brother Constantine, who translated the Liturgy and
much of the Scriptures into Slavonic.
Since Slavonic had no written form, they invented an alphabet for it, the
Glagolitic alphabet, which gave rise to the Cyrillic alphabet (named for Cyril),
which is used to write Russian and (with modifications) several related
languages today. Thus the brothers were the first to produce written material in
the Slavic languages, and are regarded as the founders of Slavic literature.
The brothers encountered missionaries from Germany, representing the
western or Latin branch of the Church, and more particularly representing the
Holy Roman Empire as founded by Charlemagne, and committed to linguistic,
and cultural uniformity. They insisted on the use of the Latin liturgy, and they
regarded Moravia and the Slavic peoples as their rightful mission field. When
friction developed, the brothers, unwilling to be a cause of dissension among
Christians, went south toward Venice, and then from Venice to Rome to see
the Pope, hoping to reach an agreement that would avoid quarreling between
missionaries in the field. They brought with them the above-mentioned relics of
Clement, third bishop of Rome after the Apostles (see 23 November). They
arrived in Rome in 868 and were received with honor. Constantine entered a
monastery there, taking the name Cyril, by which he is now remembered.
However, he died only a few weeks thereafter. He is buried in Rome in the
Church of San Clemente.
The Pope (Adrian II) gave Methodius the title of Archbishop of Sirmium (now
Sremska Mitrovica in Yugoslavia) and sent him back in 869, with jurisdiction
over all of Moravia and Pannonia, and authorization to use the Slavonic
Liturgy. Soon, however, Prince Rotislav, who had originally invited the
brothers to Moravia, died, and his successor did not support Methodius. In 870
the Frankish king Louis and his bishops deposed Methodius at a synod at
Ratisbon, and imprisoned him for a little over two years. The pope (John VIII)
secured his release, but told him not to use the Slavonic Liturgy any more. In
878 he was summoned to Rome on charges of heresy and using Slavonic. This
time Pope John was convinced by his arguments and sent him back cleared of
all charges, and with permission to use Slavonic. He died 6 April 885 in
Velehrad, the old capitol of Moravia. The Carolingian bishop who succeeded
him, Wiching, suppressed the Slavonic Liturgy and forced the followers of
Methodius into exile. Many found refuge with King Boris of Bulgaria
(852-889), under whom they reorganized a Slavic-speaking Church.
Meanwhile, Pope John's successors adopted a Latin-only policy which lasted
for centuries.
Today Cyril and Methodius are honored by Eastern and Western Christians
alike, and the importance of their work in preaching and worshiping in the
language of the people is recognized on all sides. [James Kiefer, abridged]

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