Worry and St Cyril of Alexandria

Most people know what it is to worry. We worry about our families, our communities, our jobs, our finances, our country. When we are young, we often worry about our exam results; in  later life, our scan results. Worry preoccupies us, saps our strength, closes us in on ourselves. It tends to shut God and other people out and makes us unaware of, or at the very least insensitive to, the possibility of hope. It also clouds our judgment, making us view every act and word of others in the light of our own preoccupations. In short, worry imprisons us in a hell of our own making.

I was thinking this morning about St Cyrial of Alexandria (it is his feast today) and how much I admire his theology while loathing his methods (he closed the churches of the Novatians, expelled the Jews from the city of Alexandria and battled the Nestorians at Ephesus as though they were the devil incarnate). Was it zeal for truth or worry about the future that made him so combative? We shall never know for certain, but I think it is telling that after the Council, Cyril was moderate and conciliatory, making it plain that he had no wish to destroy Nestorius or any of his opponents.

I think there is something we can all learn from this. It is natural to worry during a time of unprecedented political uncertainty such as we are now experiencing in the U.K. and in Europe more generally. Those who assert that ‘God is in his heaven and all is well with the world’ are right in one sense, but in another, they do an injustice to those who have to live with the mess and try to sort it out. I suspect none of us is thinking very clearly at the moment. The lack of political leadership and direction and uncertainty about what comes next are not going to be resolved any time soon. That is why it is important not to make things worse by digging trenches that must later be abandoned. What St Cyril recognized, and we maybe have yet to learn, is that making an argument deeply personal is not the best way of ultimately achieving peace and unity any more than worrying is the best way to attain hope.



4 thoughts on “Worry and St Cyril of Alexandria”

  1. Sister, Thank you! I have to admit to being very worried since Friday. Then yesterday’s reading seemed sent from God directly for our current circumstances, as someone once said to me they don’t believe in coincidence s only God instances. I hope some of our leaders read your post. God bless you and your community

  2. Thanks for putting some perspective on our situation. The frenzied coverage and speculation by the news media is enough to make anyone worry.

    People are trying to steady the ship, but it does seem that we will wallow a while more while the steering and engine room gets sorted out.

    My thoughts are that prayer and a steady hand and eye are essential in this situation, and refusing to be dominated by either side on the debate, steering a steady, clear passage, avoiding the rocks and shallows until we’re back in clear,settled water. And God has his steady hand on the tiller, please allow him to steer us into clear water.

  3. As I sang Office this morning, I wondered what St Cyril might be able to teach me- thank you, dear Dame Catherine for this post and for your wise words and for answering this for me!

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