Feast of St Cyril of Alexandria Reflection:
Today we celebrate the feast of one of the great teachers and definers of Catholic doctrine, St Cyril.
Born in AD370 Cyril entered a monastery and became a priest. Soon he was made Bishop of Alexandria and as bishop of one of the most important Sees in the ancient church he was soon embroiled in controversy.
During this time, the church was fighting heresies and defining doctrines, two problems which in many ways were connected.
One of the heresies that Cyril fought was Nestorianism, which taught that Jesus was made up of two loosely connected natures, one human and one divine. Cyril lived to see it condemned at Ephesus, one of the great councils of the early church.
However, it was in the argument concerning whether or not Mary was 'Mother of God' the Cyril really shone.
He argues, rightly, that if Jesus was both God and man, then Mary must be seen as Mother of God.
He also argued that she could not be called 'Mother of Divinity' since Jesus as the son of God had always existed.
While we read these debates now with historical interest, at the time they were very important. And in many ways they still are, because points of doctrine define how we see the world: Jesus is God and man, therefore God is committed to the world, if he was not, why would he have bothered coming down to earth?
These doctrines define how we see life and we interpret God's interaction in our daily lives. From this we can see that Cyril and men like him have a long lasting effect on the world view of reality and our relationship with God.
They are not historical oddities!