Monday, February 14, 2011

Whose Day Is It?

Monday, February, 14, 2011 -- Week of 6 Epiphany, Year One
Cyril and Methodius, Monk and Bishop, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869, 885
To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 948)
Psalms 89:1-188 (morning)       89:19-52 (evening)
Isaiah 63:1-6
1 Timothy 1:1-17
Mark 11:1-11

On a day when school children are exchanging Valentines and the secular world celebrates romantic love because it is St. Valentine's Day, the church's liturgical calendar celebrates the work of saints Cyril and Methodius, two brothers from Thessoloniki (Greece) who were fluent in Slavic and brought the Christian faith and learning to Moravia, a region of what is now in the Czech Republic.  The King of Moravia asked for missionaries in 862 to teach people in their native language.

Cyril was known as "the Philosopher," and he created an alphabet to translate the native language.  It was probably the glagolithic alphabet which is still used for liturgical books written for the Russian and Serbian Orthodox churches.  The cyrillic alphabet, which is used today by writers in the Slavic and Russian languages, was probably created by early disciples of Cyril and Methodius.

The brothers encountered great resistance and discrimination from Germans and others in the region who sought to suppress Slavonic as a barbaric language.  The two returned to Rome to seek ordination as bishops in order to ordain new priests for the Slavs.  While there, Cyril died. Methodius returned to Moravia as a bishop to establish the Metropolitan of Sirmium.  He faced continued harassment from the Germans, and even imprisonment for a while.  An angry Moravian prince charged him with heresy.  Eventually Methodius completed the translation of the Bible and of Byzantine ecclesiastical law into Slavonic as he successfully planted churches throughout the region.  At his funeral, huge numbers of people joined to honor him in a service that was celebrated in Greek, Latin and Slavonic.

So who was St. Valentine?  Nobody knows.  There are several traditions of one or more saints of the same name, some commemorated on February 14, others on other dates.  No certain history is known of a St. Valentine, but there are various legends collected around several people with that name, including some martyrs. 

The first association of St. Valentine's Day with romantic love is generally credited to Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle in the 14th century, from his poem about love birds, "Parlement of Foules" (1382) written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia.  Two of the lines read:    
     For this was on seynt Volantynys day
     Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

(Modern English Translation)  "For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."

February 14 seems a bit early in the year for birds to choose a mate, so some have speculated that the Chaucer poem may reference the May 2 celebration of Valentine of Genoa, an early bishop who died in 307.

So here's a challenge.  A Valentine for your beloved, written in the ancient glagolithic alphabet that Cyril and Methodius created for the Slavic language, delivered with some connection to love birds. 

Happy St. Valentine Day.  Happy Sts. Cyril and Methodius Day.



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Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location -- --  Click for Divine Hours

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to, or click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 7:00 PM, Anonymous ye olde janette said...

Ye Fellowe Pilgrim,

How about some Olde English from Lady Julian-

In the whilke visyoun er fulle many comfortabylle wordes and gretly styrrande to alle thaye that desyres to be crystes looverse.

And some Julian/Jesus Valentine haiku:

All shall be well as
Jesus be my valentine-
Love was his answer

and some Latin peace:

Dona Nobis Pacem,

At 8:13 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

I'm not sure I've figured out good Dame Julian's words.


At 8:28 AM, Anonymous janet said...

in which vision are many comforting words, greatly moving to all those who desire to be lovers of Christ.] (BL MS Additional 37790, fol. 97r.)

Here you go. I like "crystes looverse" Lovers of Christ.

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

"which" and "stirred" had me stumped.

I like crystes looverse too



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