“O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, granting to Thy people victory over all their enemies, and by the power of Thy Cross preserving Thy commonwealth. “
Greetings to all of you who carry your cross and follow Christ daily,
This Sunday marks the mid-way Sunday to Pascha. The Cross is brought out to the middle of the church proclaiming that by the “Power of Thy Cross” we will be preserved. Fr. Tom Hopko writes: “The cross stands in the midst of the church in the middle of the Lenten season not merely to remind men of Christ’s redemption and to keep before them the goal of their efforts, but also to be venerated as that reality by which man must live to be saved. “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10.38). For in the Cross of Christ Crucified lies both “the power of God and the wisdom of God” for those being saved (1 Cor 1.24).”
Next week services: Monday= Great Compline, Wednesday=Presanctified, Friday=akathist/Madaih, Saturday=Soul Saturday at 10 AM.
St. John of San Francisco writes: “The Cross of the Lord was the instrument by which He saved the world after the fall into sin. Through the Cross, He descended with His soul into hell so as to raise up from it the souls who were awaiting Him. By the Cross, Christ opened the doors of paradise which had been closed after our first ancestors had been banished from it. The Cross was sanctified by the Body of Christ which was nailed to it when He gave Himself over to torments and death for the salvation of the world, and it itself was then filled with life-giving power. By the Cross on Golgotha, the prince of this world was cast out (John 12:31) and an end was put to his authority. The weapon by which he was crushed became the sign of Christ’s victory. The demonic hosts tremble when they see the Cross, for by the Cross the kingdom of hell was destroyed. They do not dare to draw near to anyone who is guarded by the Cross. The whole human race, by the death of Christ on the Cross, received deliverance from the authority of the devil, and everyone who makes use of this saving weapon is inaccessible to the demons. When legions of demons appeared to St. Anthony the Great and other desert-dwellers, they guarded themselves with the Sign of the Cross, and the demons vanished.”
We need to make the sign of the cross correctly as our Church teaches us. It is the power of God. We should wear crosses our necks to witness to Christ and to protect ourselves.
Fr. Philip LeMaster writes: “So it was profoundly shocking when the Savior told His disciples that He would be rejected, suffer, die, and rise again. When St. Peter tried to correct Him, Christ called him “Satan” and said that he was thinking in human terms, not God’s. Then the Lord told the disciples what they didn’t want to hear. They too must take up their crosses and lose their lives; that’s the way to enter into the blessed salvation of the Kingdom of Heaven. The hard truth that Jesus Christ broke to His disciples was that we can’t jump ahead to the joy of the empty tomb. We must first go with our Lord to the cross; we too must die in order to rise again. And the unpopular truth is that every last one of us needs to die to our sinfulness, to how we have distorted ourselves, our relationships, and our world. The Son of God offered Himself in free obedience to the Holy Trinity, taking upon Himself the full consequences of sin and death to the point of a horrible execution; He did so out of love for us. And thus He opened the way to the Kingdom of heaven, to life eternal, for you, me, and all humankind; indeed, for the entire creation. And that way is the cross, for if we want to share in the joy of His resurrection, of His victory over death, we must first participate in the struggle, pain, and sacrifice of crucifixion. We must crucify the habits of thought, word, and deed that lead us to worship and serve ourselves instead of God and neighbor. We must kill our pride, our selfishness, and our slavery to pleasure. If we don’t crucify these passions, our souls will be too sick, dark, and weak to share in the glory of the resurrection. Like St. Peter, we will think in human terms, not God’s, no matter how religious or moral we appear to others.
The Lord said, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
“Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, Master, and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify.”
In the crucified Christ,