February/March 2014 - Vol. 72

The Mountain of Your Sins Will Never be Too High
by Cyril of Jerusalem (349-386 AD)
Anyone who is a slave to sin should prepare himself for true regeneration by means of faith. He must shake the yoke of sin off his back and enter the joyful service of the Lord. He will be thought worthy to inherit the kingdom.

Don't hesitate to declare yourselves sinners. Thereby you will put your old humanity that was corrupt because it followed the bait of error. And you will put on the new humanity, the humanity newly clad in intimacy with its Creator.

The regeneration of which I am speaking is not the rebirth of the body, but the second birth of the soul. Bodies are procreated by the father and mother, but souls are recreated by means of faith, since the Spirit blows where it will [John 3:8].

God is kind and he is kind to an immeasurable extent.

Don't say: "I have been dishonest, an adulterer, I have committed grave offences innumerable times. Will he forgive them? Will he deign to forget them?" Listen rather to the Psalmist: "How great is your love, O Lord" [cf. Psalm 31:9].

Your sins piled one above the other do not overtop the greatness of God's love. Your wounds are not too great for the skill of the Doctor.

There is only one course of treatment for you to follow: rely on him in faith. Explain frankly what is wrong to the Doctor and say with the Psalmist: "I acknowledge my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity" [Psalm 32:5]. Then you will be able to go on with the Psalmist to say: "Then did you forgive the guilt of my sin."

Catecheses, 1,2ff. (PG33, 372)

Cyril was born in Jerusalem around 315 AD. He was ordained deacon, then presbyter, and then bishop of Jerusalem around 349. During a time of great division in the church, between the Council of Nicea in 325 and the Council of Constantinople in 381, Cyril labored to reconcile the disputes between church leaders. He was exiled from his bishopric three times, for a total of sixteen years, for his bold proclamation of faith in Christ's full divinity during a time when many bishops and emperors favored various forms of the Arian heresy. In 381 he attended the Council of Constantinople and voted in favor of the formula which completed the Creed often known as the Nicene Creed. He died around 386.

Cyril is author of the Catecheses, or Catechetical Lectures on the Christian Faith a series of eighteen lectures delivered during Lent to those about to be baptized at Easter, and then a series of five lectures on the sacraments which were delivered after Easter to the newly baptized.

[Translation by Paul Drake. For more readings see Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, by Thomas Spidlik, Cistercian Publications, 1994.]

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