Proglas 3

12 K O N ‰ T A N T Í N F I L O Z O F F OR EWORD T O F OR EWORD When SS Cyril and Methodius arrived in Great Moravia in 863, with the gift of the Holy Scriptures, the Church had been living in the spirit of God’s Word for centuries. There were about 30 dioceses in Spain and an equal number in Gaul. In Britain and Ireland the Church had established a strong foothold and Germany felt the blessings of the activities of Irish missionaries St Columban and St Boniface. Although Italy was being destroyed by the wars with the Goths, Rome remained the spiritual centre of the world. But Constantinople was much bigger. It had armies and wealth, architects and artists, it had theologists and philosophers and above all Constantinople had a rich tradition of academic life and education. Greek literature was after Thucydides and Plato enriched also by SS Athanasius, John Chrysostom and Basil who apart from Athens studied in Constantinople too. St Irenaeus of Lyon in Gaul, Hieronymus, Augustine and the sons of St Benedict had, through their works, great influence on the west. This culture reached Slovakia via Charlemagne, and our forefathers became acquainted with the riches of the East from Constantinople through SS Cyril and Methodius. When SS Cyril and Methodius brought to Great Moravia the Old Slavonic alphabet and the translation of both the Old and New Testament, they were aware of the value of their gift. Nowadays we are inundated by books that are of no value, which carry no ideas, or just tiny bits and faint traces of wisdom. But centuries ago one book was above all the treasures of the Earth. It was called the Book or the Bible. There people could find the essence of wisdom. They honoured this book, so strong and brilliant in its wisdom, unique in the context of the world’s literature. This book formed the life of nations and their cultures. The Church placed the Holy Scriptures at the altar as the Word of God. Ceremonial oaths were made upon it. This reverence is still there. When the Gospels are read in the church amidst burning candles and incense people stand up. After the reading the Gospels are kissed by the priest. According to the Church it is Christ himself who talks through the Bible. The love of the Scriptures is love of Him. For centuries the most precious gifts of nature were used and the most skilful artists were called to celebrate the Scriptures. The text was written on the finest parchment often in gold or silver calligraphic letters. The names of God and Jesus were often written in gold. The cover of the Scriptures, ornamented with ivory and gems, spoke of love and reverence of the Scriptures. JÁN CHRYZOSTOM CARDINAL KOREC Bishop of the Nitra diocese in Slovakia the oldest diocese in Central and Eastern Europe, founded in 880