Saturday, September 15, 2007

On the Exaltation of the Cross

For 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 ... But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greek foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Cor 1:18-24)

"The Cross is our pride, by which we accept the death of the Master as the way to Resurrection for deliverance from all sin. The baptism which we undertook was described by Paul as the participation with the Lord in His burial and in the Resurrection: "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." (Rom 6:6) This is the center of our faith. This is our vitality.

If we post the Cross on the top of the Iconostasis, we do so in order that the meaning of the New Life shall stand before us and elevate us to Jesus in heaven, that we may forget all earthly care. And if we make the sign of the Cross over the baptismal water, we do it in order that the power of Salvation may descend upon the baptized through the water he is being washed with. In our Church, every symbol has its own meaning. When we Cross ourselves, we ask the Lord to send down upon us the power of Salvation as pictured in this symbol.

Likewise, if we wear a Cross around our neck since baptism, we confirm our Christian faith and that we are attached to Jesus. Some may wear a golden Cross, which at times becomes fashionable. This could have a much deeper meaning if the wearer held fast to chastity. Let us move from visible decorations to internal decoration and have the Cross carved in our hearts too.

When we Cross ourselves over the face, chest and shoulders, let us feel the connection with the Crucified. We do this every time the name of the Trinity is mentioned or glorified in prayers because the Trinity decided to allow the death of the Son in our days from all eternity. The true Glory descends upon us through the death of the Savior and through our faith in Him.

This is our pride and power. This is what the martyrs have delivered to us."
-From the Orthodox Research Institute

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