The saints Cyril and Methodius have had a long journey through life, thanks to which we can still explore the riches and fruits of their mission resounding around us even now. It suffices if we are attentive and allow our sight to see beyond the horizon of material landmarks tied to them. What could we see? The determination of our Slavic brethren, with which they abandoned their advanced cultural environment to set out into an unknown land. They went ahead in the light of their faith. They have given the local folk depth and enthusiasm for the joyous tidings of the gospels, i.e. the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. This enthusiasm subsequently formed the rules of life in Greater Moravia. For this they needed script. Even before they set out, they invented and brought along the Slavic Glagolitic alphabet (Hlaholice in Czech), which could set down the language of the time with all its peculiarities. They passed on their knowledge and faith in a peaceful, wise manner. Their mission was accompanied throughout by a special emphasis on dialogue and an understanding of the culture they lived in. We could say without bashfulness and exaggeration that they contributed to the origins of our Christian culture, education and nationhood.
Throughout the journey of their lives, the sainted brethren strove to hold up the goodness of mankind, because they saw the image and likeness of God the Creator in man. They listened to the inhabitants of Greater Moravia, respected their culture and incorporated its better aspects into the education of local folk. They also elevated other elements of life – spiritual, social and legal – to a higher level. All this without violence. The activities of the Slavic heralds of faith are very aptly demonstrated by their defence of the Slavic sacral language, alongside the Hebrew, Greek and Latin admissible at the time. “Does not the rain of God bear down on all alike? Does not the sun shine upon everyone? Do we not all breathe the same air? How come you are not ashamed to only note three languages, or do you wish for all other tongues and nations to be blind and deaf? Tell me: Do you think God is powerless and therefore cannot give, or that God is envious and therefore does not wish so?”
It is always wise to remember, study and hand down noble thoughts to apply in practice. That is why St. John Paul II. proclaimed both brothers as co-patrons of Europe, so that any European can draw on their work. The Pope justified his act with the following prophetic words, which, in the light of mounting tensions on the borders of Europe, may be even more current today: “Remember their undervalued contribution to the task of preaching the gospels among those nations as well as the conciliation and friendly coexistence, human development and respect of the dignity of each nation, I have proclaimed the saints Cyril and Methodius co-patrons of Europe on December 31st 1980.” Conciliation, friendly coexistence, human development and respect of the inner dignity of each nation – these are concepts that may either remain mere empty phrases, or take root in our culture and our interpersonal relations in the same fruitful manner as the tidings of St. Cyril and Methodius took root in the hearts of many a man and woman in the course of their lives. When we set out in the footsteps of the sainted brothers from Thessaloniki, let us keep our eyes and minds open, for their tidings of faith, reverence and respect to be able to touch our hearts and for this touch to be felt by our loved ones as well.
Mgr. Pavel Macura