The Translation of St Thomas Becket, 7th July, commemorates the anniversary of the translation of St Thomas Becket in 1220, when his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral was opened and his relics moved to a grander shrine. Becket was canonised in 1173, just three years after his death, after a popular belief in his sanctity and the healing power of his blood had sprung up in Canterbury (somewhat to the disquiet of the monks, according to Frank Barlow). However, for various reasons (a devastating fire in the cathedral in 1174, conflicts between monks and archbishops, etc.) the translation of his body did not take place until 1220, exactly fifty years after Becket’s death. It was presided over by Archbishop Stephen Langton, in the presence of the teenage Henry III and great crowds of people.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who are called the “Apostles of the Slavs” for their tireless work in spreading the Gospel throughout Eastern Europe in the ninth century. Born into a prestigious senatorial family in Thessalonica, in 827 and 826 respectively, Sts. Cyril and Methodius renounced their wealth and status. They chose instead to become priests.
Both were living in a monastery on the Bosporus – now known as the Istanbul strait which separates Europe and Asia – when the authorities from the Khazar Empire sent to Constantinople for a Christian missionary. Cyril was chosen and was accompanied by his brother. Both learned the Khazar language and converted many of the people.
Soon after the Khazar mission, there was a request from officials in Moravia – a region in the present-day Czech Republic – for missionaries who could preach and celebrate liturgical services in the local dialect. Although German missionaries had already labored among the people for some time, they had little success.
In order to fulfill this mission, Cyril and Methodius took the step of adapting the Greek alphabet into a script for the Slavonic language. The result was the “Cyrillic” alphabet, which was first used to translate the Bible and liturgical books. It also became the primary means of written communication for large portions of the world, including modern day Russia.
The two labored in Moravia for four years until 868, achieving greater success than the German missionaries. Their Byzantine origins and use of the vernacular language caused some German church officials to regard them with suspicion. However, after being summoned to Rome they met with Pope Adrian II who warmly approved of their methods.
Cyril and Methodius were commended by the pope for their missionary activity and ordained bishops. Yet Cyril would not return to Moravia, and died in Rome in 869.
In order to further Methodius’ work in Moravia, Pope Adrian II appointed him archbishop of a new archdiocese in the territory, independent from the German church. Unfortunately this had the effect of angering his German critics, who had him deposed and imprisoned for a period of three years.
Pope Adrian’s successor, John VIII, managed to have Methodius freed and had him reinstated as archbishop, after which he expanded his work to incorporate the region of modern day Poland. The new Pope continued to support Methodius’ use of the Slavic languages in worship and his translations of the Bible, despite continuing controversy with some elements of the German church.
Eventually, with the assistance of several Greek priests, he translated the whole Bible into the language that is known today as Church Slavonic. He chose his successor from among the native Moravian Slavs whom he had evangelized, and died on April 6 in 885.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius’ missionary work among the Slavs laid the essential foundation for the later Christianization of Ukraine and Russia in 988, when the Russian Prince Vladimir accepted Baptism.
INTROIT Psalm 138: 17
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival-day in honor of the blessed martyr Thomas: at whose martyrdom the angels rejoice, and give praise to the Son of God. (Ps. 32: 1) Rejoice in the Lord, ye just; praise becometh the upright. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat Let us all rejoice…
O God, by whose leave we celebrate the Translation of thy blessed martyr bishop Thomas, we humbly beseech thee that by his means and prayers we may be lifted up from vice to virtue, and from prison to a throne. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
Commemoration of SS. Cyril & Methodius
Almighty, eternal God, Who didst grant the peoples of Slavonia to come to the knowledge of Thy name through Thy blessed confessors and bishops, Cyril and Methodius, grant that, as we glory in their festival, we may be joined with them in fellowship. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
EPISTLE Hebrews 5: 1-6
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews. Brethren, every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on them that are ignorant and that err, because he himself also is compassed with infirmity; and therefore he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. Neither doth any man take the honor to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was. So Christ also did not glorify Himself that He might be made a high priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest forever, according to the order of Melchisedech.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Ecclus. 44: 16
Behold a great priest, who in his days pleased God. V.There was not found the like to him, who kept the law of the Most High. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (John 10: 14) I am the good shepherd: and I know My sheep, and Mine know Me. Alleluia.
GOSPEL John 10: 11-16
At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and flieth; and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep: and the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling, and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know Mine, and Mine know Me. As the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for My sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 20: 4-5
Thou hast set on his head, O Lord, a crown of precious stones: he asked life of thee, and thou hast given it to him. Alleluia.
God, who by thy heavenly blessing changest bread and wine into thy body and blood; grant, for the sake of thy blessed martyr bishop Thomas, that in turning once more to they mercy, we may conform ourselves to thy good pleasure. Who liveth and reigneth one God in the unity of the Holy Ghost, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
Commemoration of SS. Cyril & Methodius
Have regard to our prayers, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and to the oblations of Thy faithful, that they may be pleasing unto Thee on the festival of Thy saints, and may draw down on us the aid of Thy mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
PREFACE of the Holy Trinity
It it truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, art one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out, with one voice saying: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNION ANTIPHON John 10: 14
I am the good shepherd, and I know My sheep, and Mine know Me.
May this communion, O Lord, cleanse us from guilt and, by the intercession of blessed Thomas, Thy martyr and bishop, make us the companions of Him Who is our heavenly healing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
Commemoration of SS. Cyril & Methodius
We beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that Thou, Who dost vouchsafe unto us the Heavenly gifts, grant us, by the intercession of Thy saints, Cyril and Methodius, to despise all things earthly. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.