I love the month of February. I love it because its midpoint is such a great holiday. You romantics out there know right away that I’m talking about February 14, the great feast day of love, love, love — the memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius.
I know, I know: February 14 is also the feast of a Roman martyr, St. Valentine. But my mind is very much on the ninth-century Apostles to the Slavic peoples. They were brothers born into privilege, a senatorial family in Thessalonica, Greece. Cyril was a professor by training. Methodius was a governor. Both received the call and became monks and then missionaries.
The Byzantine Emperor Michael III sent them to evangelize the Khazars in what is now Russia. From there they went on to other lands, other peoples who did not know Jesus. They were prodigiously successful. Their preaching and example won many hearts, and made the people want more. The new Christians begged to have the Scriptures and the liturgy translated into their own tongue and taught to native-born priests. Cyril recognized that the local languages could not accommodate such a project. So he did something outlandish. He invented a new alphabet, and with his brother he translated the Gospels and the sacramental liturgies into Slavonic.
Why am I so fascinated by two men who died so long ago in such a faraway place? Because they’re models for us in our work at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Cyril and Methodius wanted the world to know God’s saving Word and receive it from the heart of the Church, which is the liturgy. In their zeal they were willing to advance the state of technology for the sake of the Gospel.
I want to have that attitude, and I want you to share it. Together we can push the limits of the possible. We can dare to use new media in new ways, so that ever more people will come to know Jesus “in the breaking of the bread.”
This year we’ll be launching websites for Spanish-language versions of our free online Bible studies. And we’re redesigning our main site to reflect the needs of our users. We’re planning a visit to Central America, at the invitation of bishops. And we’re hosting more conferences than ever before, to reach more people than ever before.
Lent is beginning this month — a time traditionally given to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Today I’m a beggar at your door. Please remember our works in a special way in your prayers. Please offer your some of your fasts for our intentions. And please consider giving a portion of your alms to our work.
For my part, I commend you to the intercession of the Great Saints Cyril and Methodius — and St. Valentine, too — that you may know true and lasting Love (see 1 Cor 13).