HE was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrim, but a faithful disciple of Jesus. It was no small proof of his great piety, that, though he had riches and honours to lose, he feared not the malice of men, but at a time when the apostles trembled, boldly declared himself a follower of Jesus who was crucified; and with the greatest devotion embalmed and buried his sacred body. This saint was the patron of Glastenbury, where a church and hermitage, very famous in the times of the ancient Britons, 1 were built by the first apostles of this island: among whom some moderns have placed St. Joseph himself, and Aristobulus. 1
Note 1. See Matthew of Westminster, and John of Glastenbury, in their histories of that famous abbey, published by Hearne; also Tanner’s Notitia Monastica.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. March 17.
Meditations for Each Day of Lent by St. Thomas Aquinas
Wednesday After the Fourth Sunday
The Divine Friend
His sisters sent to Him saying : Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick.–John xi. 3.
Three things here call for thought.
1. God’s friends are from time to time afflicted in the body. It is not, therefore, in any way a proof that a man is not a friend of God that he is from time to time sick and ailing. Eliphaz argued falsely against Job when he said, Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished being innocent? or when were the just destroyed? (Job iv. 7).
The gospel corrects this when it says, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick, and the Book of Proverbs, too, where we read, For whom the Lord loveth, He chastiseth: and as a father in the son He pleaseth himself (Prov. iii. 12).
2. The sisters do not say, “Lord, come and heal him.” They merely explain that Lazarus is ill, they say, he is sick. This is to remind us that, when we are dealing with a friend, it is enough to make known our necessity, we do not need to add a request. For a friend, since he wills the welfare of his friend as he wills his own, is as anxious to ward off evil from his friend as he is to ward it off from himself. This is true most of all in the case of Him who, of all friends, loves most truly. The Lord keepeth all them that love him (Ps. cxliv. 20).
3. These two sisters, who so greatly desire the cure of their sick brother, do not come to Christ personally, as did the centurion and the man sick of the palsy. From the special love and familiarity which Christ had shown them, they had a special confidence in Him. And, possibly, their grief kept them at home, as St. Chrysostom thinks. A friend if he continue steadfast, shall be to thee as thyself, and shall act with confidence among them of thy household (Ecclus. vi. 11).
Saint Cyril was born at or near the city of Jerusalem, about the year 315. He was ordained a priest by Saint Maximus, who gave him the important charge of instructing and preparing the candidates for Baptism. This office he held for several years, and today we still have one series of his instructions, given in the year 347 or 348. They are of singular interest as being the earliest record of the systematic teaching of the Church on the Creed and Sacraments, and as having been given in the church built by Constantine on Mount Calvary. They are solid, simple, profound, precise, and saturated with Holy Scripture, and, as a witness and exposition of the Catholic faith, invaluable.
On the death of Saint Maximus, Cyril was chosen Bishop of Jerusalem. At the beginning of his episcopate a cross was seen in the sky, reaching from Mount Calvary to Mount Olivet, and so bright that it shone at noonday. Saint Cyril gave an account of it to the emperor, and the faithful regarded it as a presage of victory over the Arian heretics.
While Saint Cyril was Bishop of Jerusalem, the apostate emperor Julian resolved to defy the words of Our Lord (Luke 21:6) by rebuilding the ancient temple of Jerusalem. He employed the power and resources of a Roman emperor; the Jews thronged enthusiastically to him and gave munificently. But Cyril was unmoved. The word of God abides, he said; one stone shall not be laid on another. When the attempt was made, a pagan writer tells us that horrible flames came forth from the earth, rendering the place inaccessible to the scorched and frightened workmen. The attempt was made again and again, and then abandoned in despair. Soon after, the emperor perished miserably in a war against the Persians, and the Church had rest.
Like the other great bishops of his time, Cyril was persecuted, and was driven twice from his see; but on the death of the Arian emperor Valens, he returned to Jerusalem. He was present at the Second General Council of Constantinople, and died in peace A.D. 386, after a troubled episcopate of thirty-five years.
Reflection. As a stout staff, says Saint John Chrysostom, supports the trembling limbs of a feeble old man, so does faith sustain our vacillating mind, lest it be tossed about by sinful hesitation and perplexity.
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).