THE CROSS IS A SYMBOL OF TRIUMPH FOR ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

THE CROSS IS A SYMBOL OF TRIUMPH
FOR ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

WE VENERATE YOUR CROSS, O Christ, and Your Holy
Resurrection we praise and glorify.

SAVE, O Lord Your people, and bless Your
inheritance, GRANTING VICTORY to the faithful over
the enemy, and by Your Cross protecting Your
commonwealth.

TODAY has salvation come to pass in the world.
Let us sing to Him Who Resurrected from the tomb
and is the Author of our life. For, DESTROYING DEATH
BY DEATH, He GAVE US VICTORY AND THE GREAT
MERCY.

Elder Ephraim, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain" writes,

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man
be lifted up" (St. John 3:14). And just exactly as all who were bitten by the
serpents looked upon the bronze serpent which was suspended and were
healed, thus also every Christian who believes in our Christ and has recourse
to His Life-Bearing wounds…IS CURED OF THE BITES OF THE SPIRITUAL
SERPENT OF SIN and, by this Most Holy Nourishment, is made to live unto
the renewal of a new creation, that is, new life in harmony with the Life-Giving
Commandments."

Saint John Chrysostom states: "The Cross, is Wood which lifts up and makes us great –
the Cross uprooted us from the depths of evil and elevated us to the summit of virtue."

"Great honor is due the Holy Cross, for upon it, as if upon an altar,
in His love for man Christ has burned up our sins. The cross has
expressed our shame and disgrace, not the Lord’s. In truth, the
Holy Cross proclaims Christ’s unfathomable love for manind. Hence,
our thoughts about the Cross should, in part, cause us to be ashamed
and ought to inspire in us REPENTANCE FOR OUR SINS." (Saint Cleopa of
Romania)

Throughout the centuries, the Holy Orthodox Church and the Holy Fathers have taught that the Cross of Jesus Christ is an emblem of triumph. We chant "We venerate the Cross of Christ, for through it the power of the demons and the deceit of the devil were destroyed." Saint Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians 1:18 writes: "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." "Being saved" (v.18) refers to the process by which the Cross transforms us with the "power of God." The Cross is to be adored, for wherever the Sign may be, there Jesus Christ will be. His Cross restorers man to immortality and stirs up the desire for the things of heaven. All Orthodox Christians believing in the power of the Cross make the sign of the Cross continually as a prayer of supplication, as protection from evil, as a weapon against demonic powers, as a blessing, as a way of revealing to the world their true identity as Christians, and as a way of inviting the Divine grace of the Cross of Christ to come upon them.

The holy Apostle Paul presents our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the Cross as the victor, powerful over our enemies. Saint Justin the Martyr declares, "The concealed power of God was in Christ the crucified." The Apostolic Father Papias stated: "He defeated sin and condemned Satan, and through His death, He spread His righteousness over all." Another great Father of the Church, Saint Ignatius confesses, "Jesus Christ…died for us, in order that by believing in His death you will escape death." Metropolitan Kallistos Ware wrote: "What has been fulfilled? We reply The work of suffering love, the victory of love over hatred, Christ our God has loved His own to the uttermost." The Lenten Triodion mentions, "the Lord’s Crucifixion and His Resurrection…together form a single, indivisible action." In Orthodox Christianity, "Calvary is seen in the light of the Empty Tomb"–and that Light bathes the Cross in brilliant splendor.

We, as Orthodox Christians, have a Holy Tradition with a vast spiritual treasure that none of the heterodox can ever conceive. There are some of our people as well who have no idea of how profound our Faith is. We in Orthodoxy possess the FULLNESS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH. It is time finally to strive to increase the knowledge of our Christian Tradition and to convey it to the world. The Holy Mission of the Holy Disciples, according to our Lord, is to "… Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU; AND LO I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE" (St. Matthew 28:19-20).

As all of you know that on the Third Sunday of Holy and Great Lent, the Sunday of the Elevation or Adoration of the Cross, we all chant: "This is the day of the VENERATION of the Precious Cross. Now it is placed before us and shines with the brightness of Christ’s Resurrection." We also chant, "Your Cross, O Lord All-Merciful, is honored by the whole world, for You have made the instrument of death into a source of life."

"We must also go on to partaking of the mystery of the Cross through the Mysteries or Sacramental and ascetic life. Through Baptism, as the Apostle Paul says, we are baptised into Christ’s DEATH and RESURRECTION of Christ. Saint Paul writes, "that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). The REBIRTH IS ESSENTIAL, because otherwise man will die spiritually. According to the words of Saint Paul: "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:13). The significance of the Sacrifice on Cross by Christ God and that of our salvation, is shown by the fact that the early Christian Baptismal Fonts were constructed IN THE SHAPE OF A Cross. In all the Mysteria (Sacraments), grace is given by blessing IN THE FORM OF A Cross. But the sacraments presuppose and take place in the atmosphere of the ASCETIC LIFE." (The Feasts of the Lord)

There is so much of our Faith that is revealed during the holy season of Lent and especially during Holy and Great Week. Much of our Orthodox theology is taught through the sacred hymnology of our Church. The hymns of our Church were written with the specific purpose of not only inspiring the faithful, but also teaching them our Holy Orthodox Christian faith. For example, on Holy and Great Friday, the Orthodox people chant the following hymn: "Your Cross, O Lord, is Life and resurrection to Your people… We sing to You, our crucified God." On Great Saturday at Orthros, we reverently chant, "You Who are the Life were laid in a tomb, O Christ… We honor Your burial and Your sufferings, through which You have saved us from corruption."

Orthodox iconography does not belabor or emphasize the agony and the suffering of our Savior on the Cross, but rather as the Victor over death and not a victim. The icon of the crucifixion shows the expression of the centurions who, "Were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying "Truly this was the Son of God!" (St. Matthew 27:54). Orthodox Tradition identifies the believing centurion as Saint Longinos.

There are differences how the crucifixion of Christ is portrayed between Western Christianity (Protestantism and Roman Catholicism) and the Orthodox view on the Cross. "Western Christianity tends to see it as judgment for our sake, Orthodoxy emphasizes that it is His Victory for our sake." In Western Christianity, the crucifixion includes the sign of accusation affixed on the Cross. It appears as I.N.R.I. (Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews). Our Orthodox Tradition does not include that mockery meant to humiliate and shame Christ, even as He was dying on the Cross, but rather reveals His Divine Magesty and therefore the sign proclaims, "the King of Glory," The King of Kings!

"The Royal Ministry of the Lord before His Resurrection was expressed, (a) in His miracles, in His Authority over nature; (b) in His Authority over the powers of hell, concerning which there is the testimony of His numerous exorcisms of demons of the word of the Lord: "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven" (St. Luke 10:18); and (c) in His Authority over death, manifested in the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain, the daughter of Jairus, and Lazarus of the four days.

The Lord Jesus Christ speaks of Himself as a King before His Resurrection when He was being judged by Pilate: "My Kingdom is NOT of this world" (St. John 18:36-37).

When the Lord appeared in His glory to His Disciples after the Resurrection, He said to them, "All power is given unto Me in heaven an in earth" (St. Matthew 28:18).

After His Ascension, the God-Man Christ is Head of heaven, earth, and the underworld.

IN all the power, the Royal Might of the Lord Jesus Christ was revealed in His descent into hell and His victory over hell, His destruction of its bonds; further, in His Resurrection and victory over death, and finally, in the Ascension of Jesus Christ and the opening of the Kingdom of Heaven FOR ALL WHO BELIEVE IN Him." (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)

"I am the one," says the Christ,
"I am the one that destroyed death
and triumphed over the enemy
and trod down Hades
and bound the strong one
and carried off man to the heights of heaven;
"I am the one," says the Christ."
(Meliton of Sardis)

___________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

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