Sunday, January 15, 2012

St. Cyprian

Cyprian (died 258 AD) was the bishop of Carthage from 249 AD until he was executed by the Romans for his Christian faith and for his leadership of Christ Church in North Africa. Cyprian is one of my personal favourites among the early Church fathers.  He was born into family of privilege and wealth, but he willingly gave that up to serve his Saviour Jesus Christ and Christ’s Church. He was willing to do this during a time of serious and extreme persecution, when many fellow Christians were being imprisoned, tortured and killed by the Roman government, because of their faith.
St. Cyprian wrote a good deal; we are blessed to still possess, and have ready access to, much of what he wrote. We still have many of his personal letters written to friends and colleagues. We also have a sizable number of his treatises. These treatises are often very much like a sermon and many of them were likely sermons that he preached to his parishioners.
The quote below is and excerpt from a treatise Bishop Cyprian wrote on the Lord’s Prayer.
…[T]he Teacher of peace and the Master of unity would not have prayer to be made singly and individually, as for one who prays to pray for himself alone. For we say not “My Father, which art in heaven,” nor “Give me this day my daily bread;” nor does each one ask that only his own debt should be forgiven him; nor does he request for himself alone that he may not be led into temptation, and delivered from evil. Our prayer is public and common; and when we pray, we pray not for one, but for the whole people, because we the whole people are one. The God of peace and the Teacher of concord, who taught unity, willed that one should thus pray for all, even as He Himself bore us all in one…
I think it is good for modern Christians to remember that we received the Gospel of Christ from those who came before us. It is good to remember men like Cyprian, and elder brother in the faith, who willing gave his life, and was beheaded, for the cause of Christ and His Church.