St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386), whose feast is celebrated March 18th, was bishop of Jerusalem when the Holy Land was a center for Christian pilgrims. Scholars, like St. Jerome and St. Paula, came to pray and study at the places where Jesus was born and died and rose again.
The church in Jerusalem influenced liturgical, catechetical and devotional life in churches throughout the world. The Stations of the Cross originated here. Cyril’s honored as a Doctor of the Church.
Cyril preached and celebrated the liturgy in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built by the Emperor Constantine over the tomb of Jesus and calvary where he died. It still stands there today.
Here’s an excerpt from one of his catechetical sermons, preached in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, near where the relic of the cross and the tomb of Jesus were honored.
“The Catholic Church glories in every deed of Christ. Her supreme glory, however, is the cross. Well aware of this, Paul says: God forbid that I glory in anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!
“At Siloam, there was a sense of wonder, and rightly so: a man born blind recovered his sight. But of what importance is this, when there are so many blind people in the world? Lazarus rose from the dead, but even this affected only Lazarus: what of those countless numbers who have died because of their sins? Those miraculous loaves fed five thousand people; yet this is a small number compared to those all over the world who were starved by ignorance. After eighteen years a woman was freed from the bondage of Satan; but are we not all shackled by the chains of our own sins?
“For us all, however, the cross is the crown of victory. It has brought light to those blinded by ignorance. It has released those enslaved by sin. Indeed, it has redeemed the whole of mankind!”
The relic of the cross honored by Cyril in this church was not just a grim reminder of the suffering of Jesus; it was bathed in the glorious memory of Jesus’ resurrection celebrated close by in his empty tomb.
For Morning and Evening Prayers today, 4th week.