Feast of the Procession of the Cross

According to the Synaxarion, the feast celebrates the veneration of the Holy Cross in Constantinople. The early days of August were dangerous in antiquity. Because of the heat, many diseases became strong, and so the Cross was displayed in various places in the city for fourteen days. This feast was then introduced into Rus in the fifteenth century.

Today it announces the coming of the great feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14, approximately forty days from now. I think in may ways we misunderstand the Cross, we equate it with pain and suffering, as a negative sign that Christians were made to be miserable. That is not what St. Paul says in today’s epistle, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God …. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 18:18.23-24).

Sign of the Holy Cross

Often we make the Sign of the Cross without thinking of the meaning of this gesture. It is easy to forget; hopefully it is easy to get back to the center, too. In the days following the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, perhaps we can stop to think and “feel” our making the Sign of the Cross with love and appreciation for what Jesus did (and does) for us. St. Cyril of Jerusalem calls the Sign of the Cross the seal.

Many thanks to Carrie Chuff for the wonderful illustration of how we make the Sign of the Cross!

Thanks to God With Us Online.

Sunday of the Holy Cross

Today in the Byzantine Catholic Church it is the Sunday of the Holy Cross. It is a day on which we recall that wood heals wood, the wood of the cross heals the wood that tree in paradise we were told not to eat from. Today we venerate the Holy Cross and it signals mid-Lent. As members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem we are keenly aware that the cross is intimately connected with the Lord’s victory over death, and thus our salvation.

St John Chrysostom teaches us:

“Therefore, no one should be ashamed of the venerable symbols of our salvation: of the cross, which is the summit of our goods, for which we live and are what we are. Instead, let’s carry the cross of Christ like a trophy everywhere! All things, among us, reach their fulfillment by means of the cross. When we have to be reborn, the cross becomes present; when we feed on the mystical food; when we are consecrated ministers of the altar; when other mysteries are fulfilled, this symbol of victory is always present there.”

Sunday of the Holy Cross resources

When, then, you make the sign of the cross on the forehead, arm yourself with a saintly boldness, and reinstall your soul in its old liberty; for you are not ignorant that the cross is a prize beyond all price.

Consider what is the price given for your ransom, and you will never more be slave to any man on earth. This reward and ransom is the cross. You should not then, carelessly make the sign on the forehead, but you should impress it on your heart with the love of a fervent faith. Nothing impure will dare to disturb you on seeing the weapon, which overcomes all things. (St. John Chrysostom)

As we approach the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, let us consider also how we reverence the cross in our day to day life. Do I make the Sign of the Cross impressed on my heart with fervent faith?

Sunday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Read: Galatians 2:16-20; Mark 8:34-9:1

The first sticheron of the Feast of the Holy Cross tells us, “By this Cross …. In his mercy (Christ) clothed us with beauty and made us worthy of heaven.” This is confirmed in the Hymn of Light from Matins: “The Cross is the beauty of the Church.” How can this be? For the Cross is ugly torture, and the Prophet Isaiah foretells of the Messiah:

“See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him— so marred were his features, beyond that of mortals his appearance, beyond that of human beings. He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye, no beauty to draw us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, knowing pain, like one from whom you turn your face, spurned, and we held him in no esteem” (Isaiah 52:13-14; 53:2-3).

The Life-Giving Cross

“… let us venerate the wood of Your cross, O friend of men, because on it You have been nailed, Life of all. You opened heaven, O Savior, to the thief who had faith in You; he was worthy of bliss because he confessed to You: remember me, Lord… we have all sinned, for Your love compassion do not despise us.”

Today we sing, We bow to your Cross, O Lord, and we glorify your holy resurrection!!!

Image: Crucifixion scene from the post Byzantine era of the mid-15th century, at the church museum of Rossáno, Calabria.

The Easier, Lighter Way of the Cross

 

Today’s meditation is done by Sr. Vassa Larin

“Then Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur; they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ And he cried to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” (Ex 15: 22-25a)

This passage is from the first reading at Vespers on the great feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, celebrated this Thursday (NC). What does this passage have to do with the feast? The “tree” that Moses throws into bitter water, and that makes the water sweet, is traditionally seen as an image of the “life-giving” Cross.

Holy Day Liturgies September 14

On Thursday, September 14th, we will celebrate the great feast of The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross (known, simply as the Exaltation of the Holy Cross). By the Cross of Jesus Christ we are saved!
It is also a day of abstinence. We may not eat meat. (See Statutes, c. 476 2:4).
 
The Divine Liturgy will be offered at 9:00 a.m. (in Ukrainian) and again at 7:00 p.m. (in English).
 
Please come and pray, and bring a friend.