Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vol. 2 Issue 5

Vol. 2 Issue 5

Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord September 14\27

Finding of the Cross
The cross was found by the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, Empress Helena, who had come to Palestine, and Bishop Makarios of Jerusalem (314 - 333).  Excavations had uncovered the cave of the Holy Sepulchre and three crosses were found not far from it.  A sick woman was laid on each cross one at a time and the Cross of Christ was identified when she was healed.  According to another tradition, a dead man came back to life after coming into contact with the cross as he was borne along the street for burial (hence the name Life-Giving Cross).
Holy Empress Helen commemorated the places involving the earthly life of the Savior, founding more than 80 churches, including one at the place of Christ’s Nativity in Bethlehem, one on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended into heaven, one in Gethsemane where the Savior prayed before His sufferings and one where the Mother of God was buried after Assumption. St. Helen brought back with her to Constantinople a part of the Life-Giving Tree and the nails. Equal to the Apostles Emperor Constantine ordered a majestic and vast church to be erected in Jerusalem to honor the Resurrection of Christ, which included in itself the Holy Sepulchre and Golgotha.  The construction of the temple took almost 10 years. St. Helena did not live to see the consecration of the temple, she died in 327. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335.  The next day, September 14 , was established as the day to celebrate the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross.
Return of the Cross
Another event associated with the Cross of the Lord is commemorated on this day – its return to Jerusalem from 14 years of captivity in Persia.  In a war against the Greeks, the Persian king Hozroy II defeated the Greek army, plundered Jerusalem and took captive the Life-Giving Cross of our Lord and Patriarch Zacharias (609 - 633).  The Cross remained in Persia for 14 years and only during the reign of Emperor Heraclius (610 - 641), who defeated Hozroy, with the help of God, and then made peace with his son, was the sacred Cross of the Lord returned to Christians.

The Cross of faithful belief.
A sermon on the feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Archbishop Averky (Taushev).
The Cross is the keeper of the world, the Cross is an adornment of the Church, the Cross is a symbol of the power of tsars, the Cross is a symbol of faithful belief, the Cross is the glory of angels and the plague of demons.  (Hymn to the Cross)

The Cross of the Lord is such a mighty sacred object for us that besides the frequent entreaties to it and its mention in daily services and prayers, the Holy Church deemed it necessary for all of Orthodoxy to establish a great feast day dedicated to it – the feast day of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross of the Lord – and have the feast day join the list of the most important so-called Twelve Great Feasts.

It is a wonderful autumnal feast!  In a way it completes all the other feasts and sums them all up.  Having painted a picture of the Divine Economy of God to soothe our souls, including the grace-filled and wise counsel of God concerning our salvation embodied in all the great feasts dedicated to the Lord and the Mother of God, the Holy Church concludes by leading us to worship at the Lord’s Cross as if to say, “You have seen all that God has done for your salvation, but you do not know yet what you should do to be saved.  I say to you on this day, if you desire to be saved, then cling to Christ’s Cross and you will be saved.  It harbors miraculous life-giving powers which will resurrect your soul that has been deadened by sins.  Learn to love the Lord’s Cross, which is a mighty symbol of God’s love and an instrument of your salvation, learn to love the Lord’s Cross above all else in the world, cling to it not only with your adoring lips, but with all your soul, with all your body and you will be saved!”
 That is because the Lord’s Cross is a wonderful instrument of our salvation, our redemption from sin, damnation and eternal death.  Christ “nailed a record of our sins” to the Cross.  On the Cross, “Christ the King willingly spread his arms and lifted us to the first blessing, if thine enemy absconds with thy goodness, he will be driven out by God.”  On the Cross, Christ “endured crucifixion and conquered death by death.”
 That is why the Cross for us Christians is no longer an instrument of terrible humiliating punishment, as it was in ancient times when it was an instrument of damnation, “cursed…hanging on the tree” as told in the Old Testament, but an instrument of God’s blessing, a symbol of joy.
 The Cross of the Lord is also for us Christians a great and wonderful symbol of the infinite love of God for fallen man which cannot be expressed in any human language: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16).  The Cross of the Lord constantly reminds us of that great truth which was revealed to us only by the beloved student of Christ, the apostle of love St. John the Theologian, that “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16), because “since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4;11)
 How many important, no, very important instructive truths do we receive from venerating the Cross of Christ!
Convent of St. Nicholas
Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, the Wonderworker
24 Tynan Road, Cleveland, NY 13042, USA
 A youth summer camp was held at the St. Nicholas Convent from July 31 to August 13.  The first week was devoted to those from 13 to 20 years old, with 22 children in attendance.  Among other activities, they also studied choral singing and serving at the kliros.  The second week was for those from 6 to 12 years old and 25 children took part in a range of activities.  Services were held every day and all the children took confession and communion.  The camp was organized by the convent abbess, Mother Agapia.  More details and photos are available on the monastery website: