The beginning of the ecclesiastical year is marked by the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos and the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The two Sundays which bracket this latter feast are also dedicated to the Holy Cross. Since the feast falls this year on a Sunday, we have three Sundays during September which honor the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
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Archbishop Nicolae’s Meditation on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross 2008
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was established in order to commemorate and honor an event in the history of salvation related to the honorable Cross of Christ our Savior. This was the discovery, in a miraculous way, of the Holy Cross of our Lord by the Empress Helen, and its being lifted up before the faithful at the Church of the Holy Resurrection in Jerusalem by the Patriarch Macarios. Part of the wood of the Holy Cross was taken to Constantinople for veneration, the rest remaining in Jerusalem until the year 614, when the Persians conquered Palestine and confiscated the wood of the Holy Cross. In 628 the Emperor Heraclius brought the Holy Cross back, first to Constantinople, then to Jerusalem, placing it in the same church.
From the historical event we move to the significance of the Holy Cross in the life of the Christian believer. Christ Himself exhorted us to take up the Cross: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the Gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). What does it really mean for us to lose our soul for Christ and the Gospel? I believe St. Paul gives us the answer when he says that Christ, “…being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…” (Phil. 2:6-7). To lay down our soul for Christ and the Gospel means to follow Christ and to not consider that our life is something that has value in itself without God. Our being is light when it is in the true light, in the light of God. Our existence has value when the love of God shines through it. However, this light and this value cannot be gained through our own merit, but by dedicating ourselves to God, putting our efforts and our qualities in the service of the proclamation of the truth of God: the Incarnation of the Son, the event revealed in the Gospel..
The mystery of Christian life is found in the choice between two tendencies: between reckoning our soul as our own, or giving it up to God in order that we may receive it back beautified. The Christian martyrs gave up their souls and their lives; they certainly received them back in heaven.
At the beginning of the liturgical year the Church has established this prolonged celebration of the historical event of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in order to offer us the chance to reflect on our own understanding of the world and of our Christian life. There are two questions with which we ought to journey through this ecclesiastical year: Why was the Son of God lifted up on the Cross, and what does that mean for me? Our own spiritual growth in this year which we are beginning depends on our responses to these questions. And so that we may increase in faith, hope, and love, may God help each of us to find the right answers.
Sf. Apostol Iacob, fratele Sf. Ioan Evanghelistul
Sf. Clement si Donat.
- Divine Liturgy Ss. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Chicago, IL - Enthronement Ceremony
- Special Archdiocesan Congress, Ss. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Chicago, IL
- St. Thomas Sunday/St. George – Divine Liturgy Ss. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Chicago, IL
- Life Giving Fountain - Divine Liturgy at Ss. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Chicago, IL
- Holy Pascha - Divine Liturgy at Ss. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Chicago, IL
- Divine Liturgy at St. George parish, St. Hubert, QC
- Divine Liturgy at Ss. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Chicago, IL
- St. George - Divine Liturgy at St. George parish, St. Hubert, QC
- Life Giving Fountain - Divine Liturgy at St. Dimitrios the New Mission, Montreal, QC
- Holy Pascha - Divine Liturgy at St. Mary’s parish, Timmins, ON