Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Venerable Cross ( Subdeacon Damascene the Studite )

This present Sunday of the Holy Cross is a day of preparation, similar to the one that takes place
when a nation prepares to welcome back its king who is returning victorious from war. Just as a king who has vanquished his enemies sends heralds to inform his people and announce to
them the joyous news of his victory, prior to
returning to his homeland, similarly our Lord Jesus Christ, the Great King, has sent us the Venerable and Holy Cross today as a herald
instructing us to prepare to receive Him— because
shortly He will come to show us how He

conquered the devil through His death and His
Holy Resurrection.

Today the Orthodox Church of Christ resembles
Paradise. Just as in the middle of the Garden of Eden there was the tree of knowledge, which put Adam to death through his disobedience, similarly our Holy Church sets forth the Cross, the tree of life, which resurrected Adam through the death of Christ. Christ presents the Venerable Cross to us today so that we may cheerfully adore  it as the cause of the resurrection for the entire human race. 

Today, the following prophecy of the Prophet David was fulfilled:
“Let us worship at the place where His feet have stood” (Ps. 131:7).We have made an effort to fast
thus far through Great Lent; now, the day has come for us to rejoice.

People who travel by foot on a far journey
oftentimes begin to grow weary, especially in times when the hot sun is beating down on them.
If, however, they encounter a tree with dense
foliage along the way, they find solace, they rest and recuperate under its shade, and then continue their journey with renewed strength.

Similarly, since we have struggled to observe
this arduous fast, as we encounter the Venerable Cross today midway through Great Lent, we rejoice in this divine celebration, we find
consolation, we are fortified, and thus eagerly
proceed on the remainder of our journey through the fast. The Venerable Cross is an invincible weapon for every Christian. It is the victory for kings, the honor of the Church, the persecutor
of the demons, and the guard of the faithful.

Blessed are they who venerate the Cross with a pure heart. Fortunate are the people who the Lord speaks of in His Holy Gospel, who are worthy of following Him:
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mt. 16:24)
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