Saint Methodius I, Patriarch of Constantinople
by Fr John Bartunek, LC | Source: Catholic.net
Uncle Eddy's E-mail -- June
Saint Methodius I,
(entered heaven in 847)
I chuckled when your dad told me that you have a
summer job working in the local cemetery. I imagine no one bothers you there. Actually, it reminds
me a bit of today´s saint. Methodius was a well-educated Sicilian who moved to Constantinople as a
young man, hoping to make a career for himself in the magnificent court of the emperor there. He met
a holy monk, however, who pointed out the advantages of serving an Emperor whose rule would never
end, so Methodius took the habit and was ordained a priest. Soon, however, he was called to the side
of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Nicephorus, and became embroiled in the bloody
iconoclastic controversy, which ruptured forever the peace of his monastic routine.
iconoclasts denounced the veneration of sacred images as against the first commandment (the part
that says, "you shall not make any graven images"), even though the Church had already pointed out
that Christian sacred images were not idols, so they weren´t "graven." After all, God himself had
become visible in Jesus Christ, so it certainly can´t be wrong to adorn our worship and inspire our
prayer through pictures and statues of our Lord and the saints, as long as those pictures and
statues are not mistaken as gods themselves.
The controversy raged for almost a century,
leading to the desecration of more than a few sacred sites. Methodius was vehemently against this
heresy, and suffered for it. He tried to mediate between the Pope and the iconoclastic emperor
Michael the Stammerer, but stirred up the emperor´s resentment and ended up being imprisoned with
two thieves in a mausoleum – you know, one of those large, above-ground family tombs that look
almost like little chapels or temples; I am sure the cemetery where you work has one or two. They
left him there for seven years, during which time one of the thieves died; they left his corpse
there to rot. But by the grace of God, Methodius emerged sane and healthy, though looking a bit
skeletal. He continued to defend the true doctrine of the Church and was finally rewarded by the
repeal of iconoclasm at the hands of the regent empress Theodora, who also appointed him to the
Patriarchate of Constantinople, which he worthily filled for the rest of his life.
ride that mower around the tombstones and trim those gravely decorous trees, then, you may want to
reflect on what went through Methodius´ heart and mind during his long confinement in a mausoleum.
Perhaps with his intercession you can learn the same lessons about life, death, faith, and truth in
seven weeks instead of seven years.
read more about other Saints of the day, CLICK HERE
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