History: Cyril and Methodius

Before I moved to Prague I knew very little about this area of the world. Even though I majored in History in college, I still feel like I didn’t really know all that much about the area that I now live in. I’m guessing that many of you also aren’t all that familiar with the history of Prague or the Czech lands. So, I decided that I want to occasionally post a history blog so that you can better understand this place that I live and maybe a bit about why I choose to live here.

Let’s start with a brief account of Cyril and Methodius…

It is said that Christianity came to the region with the great missionaries Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century. They are often referred to as “Apostles to the Slavs” and their work did much to influence the development of the region. Though German missionaries had been in the area before Cyril and Methodius they had not seen much success in converting the area. Cyril and Methodius took a different approach from the German missionaries and the results were also quite different. They translated the Bible into what is now know as Old Church Slavonic, which allowed liturgies to be said in the common language of the people. In order to do this they created a Slavic alphabet which is in use in many places even to this day. There were of course those who opposed their use of the Slavic language and who argued that Latin alone should be the language of the church and church documents, but because of the success of Cyril and Methodius’ mission both Rome and Constantinople honored them.

I think the story of Cyril and Methodius is very interesting. It seems to me that they at least partly cared about meeting people where they were. At a time when most church services where performed in Latin and when many missionaries insisted on Latin being used, Cyril and Methodius reached people in their native tongue. They entered into the lives of the Slavic people. The brothers worked in Moravia for just less than five years but because they taught the people in their own language they have been forever remembered as the ones to really bring Christianity to the Slavic lands.

It seems that often today we do the same thing that the German missionaries did, we try to convert people by forcing them to do things our way. Maybe we don’t make them do their service in Latin, but we do make them conform to our cultural standards. Cyril and Methodius didn’t do that, they allowed the people to be Slavic instead of trying to make them something they weren’t.

Lord, may we each minister to those around us without trying to take them someplace they aren’t ready to go. Without trying to force anything to happen. Without trying to make them look and act like us. May we meet people where they are at and reach out to them in ways that allow them freedom to be who you made them to be.

Rejoicing in the journey – Bethany Stedman