The brothers, Methodius and Constantine (he did not take the name Cyril until just before his death) were born in Thessalonica (northeast of Greece) in 826 and 827, and were educated at Constantinople. Methodius, the older of the two brothers, became an important civil official but he grew tired of worldly affairs and retired to a monastery. Constantine became a scholar and a professor known as "the Philosopher" in Constantinople.
When the Byzantine emperor decided to honor a request for missionaries by the Moravian prince Rastislav, Methodius and Constantine were the natural choices; they knew the language, they were able administrators, and had already proven themselves successful missionaries.
But there was far more behind this request and the response than a desire for Christianity. Rastislav, like the rest of the Slav princes, was struggling for independence from German influence and invasion. Christian missionaries from the East, to replace missionaries from Germany, would help Rastislav consolidate power in his own country, especially if they spoke the Slavonic language.
Constantine and Methodius were dedicated to the ideal of expression in a people's native language. Arriving in 863 in Moravia, Constantine began translating the liturgy into Slavonic. In the East, it was a normal procedure to translate liturgy into the vernacular. As we know, in the West the custom was to use Greek and later Latin, until Vatican II. The German hierarchy, which had power over Moravia, used this difference to combat the brothers' influence. The German priests didn't like losing their control and knew that language has a great deal to do with independence.
So when Constantine and Methodius went to Rome to have the Slav priesthood candidates ordained (neither was a bishop at the time), they had to face the criticism the Germans had leveled against them. But if the Germans had motives that differed from spiritual concerns, so did the pope. He was concerned about the Eastern church gaining too much influence in the Slavic provinces. Helping Constantine and Methodius would give the Roman Catholic church more power in the area. So after speaking the brothers, the pope approved the use of Slavonic in services and ordained their pupils.
Constantine never returned to Moravia. He died in Rome after assuming the monastic robes and the name Cyril on February 14, 869. Methodius became bishop of Sirmium, an ancient see near Belgrade and given power over Serbo-Croatian, Slovene, and Moravian territory. The German bishops accused him of infringing on their power and imprisoned him in a monastery. This lasted until Germany suffered military defeats in Moravia. At that time the pope intervened and Methodius returned to his diocese in triumph at the same time the Germans were forced to recognize Moravian independence. There was a loss involved -- to appease the Germans a little, the pope told Methodius he could no longer celebrate liturgy in the vernacular.
In 879 Methodius was summoned to Rome to answer German charges he had not obeyed this restriction. This worked against the Germans because it gave Methodius a chance to explain how important it was to celebrate the liturgy in the tongue people understood. Instead of condemning him, the pope gave him permission to use Slavonic in the Mass, in Scripture reading, and in the office. He also made him head of the hierarchy in Moravia.
The criticism never went away, but it never stopped Methodius either. It is said that he translated almost all the Bible and the works of the Fathers of the Church into Slavonic before he died on April 6 in 884. To him is attributed the Slav alphabet, into which tongue he translated Holy Scripture.
Cyril and Methodius are the patron saints of Slovakia.
Their feast day is February 14.
Merciful God, You have enlightened the Slavonic nations by the teaching of the brothers, Cyril and Methodius. Help us to assimilate the teachings of Your doctrine and perfect us as a people united in the true faith and its expansion. Amen.
Saint Hubertus or Hubert, born in Toulouse in 656, is the patron saint of hunters, mathematicians, opticians and metalworkers, and used to be invoked to cure rabies. St. Hubert was widely venerated in the Middle Ages. As a youth, Hubert was sent to the Neustrian court of Theuderic III at Paris and, in 682, he married Floribanne, daughter of Dagobert, Count of Leuven, a great and suitable match. Unfortunately, his wife died giving birth to their son, and Hubert retreated from the court, and gave himself up entirely to hunting.
But a great spiritual revolution was imminent. On Good Friday morning, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag or hart, the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: "Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell". Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, "Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?" He received the answer, "Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you."
Hubert set out immediately for Maastricht, for there Lambert was bishop. Saint Lambert received Hubert kindly, and became his spiritual director. Hubert now renounced all his very considerable honors, and gave up his birthright to the Aquitaine to his younger brother, whom he made guardian of his infant son. Having distributed all his personal wealth among the poor, he studied for the priesthood, was soon ordained.
By the advice of St. Lambert, Hubert made a pilgrimage to Rome in 708, but during his absence, Lambert was assassinated by the followers of Pippin. In 720, in obedience to a vision, Hubert transferred St. Lambert's remains from Maastrict to Liège with great pomp and ceremony. A basilica for the relics was built upon the site of Lambert's martyrdom, and was made a cathedral the following year. This laid the foundation of the future greatness of Liège, of which Saint Lambert is honored as patron, and Saint Hubert as founder and first bishop.
His feast day is the 3rd of November.
Great St. Hubert, you were passionate about hunting, but when touched by Divine Grace, you put down your bow and took up the collar of Priesthood. Known for yoiur miracles and the conversion of hundreds, you convinced others to worship and glorify Our Lord. Moved by your example, I implore your help. I ask for the Grace to follow in your footsteps and become a passionate disciple of Christ. Amen.