Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. In that we have beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us bow down before the Holy Lord Jesus, the Only sinless One. Thy Cross do we adore, O Christ, and Thy Holy Resurrection we laud and glorify. For Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, we call upon Thy Name. O come, all ye faithful, let us adore Christ's Holy Resurrection: for lo, through the Cross is joy come into all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, let us sing His Resurrection. For in that he endured the Cross, He has destroyed Death by death. [The Hours of Pascha]
THE WAY OF THE CROSS
by Father Nicholas Loudovikos, PhD. in Theology
The Cross is a path, a road. In other words, it is the road on which my self-love will be hard-pressed...it will be pressured, pressured, pressured...and from it, the true meaning of love and life will surface; from there I will discover who I really am and who God wants me to become. I will discover it existentially, if you understand what I mean. But, this is what the world hates; the world wants you to vindicate it, nothing more. It wants you to say "bravo" -isn't that so?
Most Christians--as a French thinker had once said--find a mysterious way of making themselves comfortable on the Cross...That is not essentially crucifying oneself. Crucifying myself means precisely to perceive the evil element inside me, inside me, inside me-that which I am denying. It is that which I am denying...All of the defense mechanisms that we know in psychology aspire to just that. Which means it is really important for one to be Christian-that is, it is really important for one to place on that narcissism a question mark and say to oneself: "Is it possible that things aren't they way I think? Could I be the one to blame?" But don't say "Could I also be the one to blame?" The word "also" is enough to make me deviate again. So, I should really ask myself: "Am I to blame?"
You may have noticed how they go after Saints, by claiming: "He is deluded"... Yet the response they get is: "Yes, I was deluded indeed. I am deluded..." And you see such incomprehensible reactions-like Abba (Father) Joseph the Hesychast, who took a stick and began to beat himself, saying: "Be silent, you deluded one! You are deluded! Take that, you deluded one!"...(The Holy Spirit teaches these things)...He acted like that because he hadn't attained the fullness of grace, and situations like these are very lofty ones. For us, things are much easier, because we have the Cross, we display it, we used it wherever it is needed to exorcise evil, but we do not climb onto it. We take great pains to not climb onto it...
The right..."I have a right..." Abba (Father) Dorotheos had once said: "If the will is combined with the right, man inevitably becomes a beast." You cannot handle that type of person: "I demand and I also have the right..." If Christ were to say: "But I too have a right to be below the Cross", what would have been the outcome? He would have become just another warlord, dividing the world into His enemies and His friends, isn't that so? The enemies would then kill the friends, the friends would kill the enemies, right? And there would be one more case of major bloodshed again on earth. But, by consenting to be raised to be raised onto the Cross, He is the only One Who accepted to make the Sacrifice and He did, "so that in Himself He would restore everything"-He would create the restoration of everyone. Do you understand? He would restore and reconcile (that's what he means by "restore") everyone.
"You did spread Your arms and did joy whatever was previously apart"...Right? Do you understand? He did not make any followers; He related to everyone. He related Himself to His persecutors, and at His hour of death He said: "...For they know not what they are doing..." Do you realize what a formidable thing that was? To refuse to be separated from those who were killing Him, and to make evident to them that "this is genuine love, and this love is salvific." That is why you can see that the universality of this Sacrifice is-precisely-the grandeur of Christianity. Christ did not make any followers, the way that Mohammed did.
"If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." Right? "If they kept my words, they will also keep yours." Clear-cut things. "If you proceed along my path, know that it will be thus; but they will do all these things to your for my name's sake, for they did not know the One who sent Me…" Note something here: "They will do all these things" (He says), "because they believe I am just an ordinary common man and they don't know Who sent Me-they don't know the Father, Who is behind it."
The culmination of the great work of salvation is bound up with the end of the world. The Cross and the Resurrection of Christ stand at the very center of human history.
Neither descriptions nor enumerations can take in the majesty, breadth, power, and significance of the earthly ministry of Christ; there is no measuring-stick for the All-Surpassing Wealth of God's love, manifest in His mercy for the fallen and for sinners in miracles, in healings, and finally, in His innocent sacrificial death, with prayer for His crucifiers. Christ took upon Himself the sins of the entire world; He received in Himself the guilt of all men. He is the Lamb slaughtered for the world. Are we capable of embracing in our thoughts and expressing in our usual, everyday conceptions and words all the economy of our salvation? We have no words for heavenly mysteries.
"We faithful, speaking on things that pertain to God, touch upon an ineffable mystery, the Crucifixion, that mind cannot comprehend, and the Resurrection that is beyond description: for today death and hell are despoiled, while mankind is clothed in incorruption" (Sedalion after the second Kathisma, Sunday Matins, Tone 3).
However, as we learn from the writings of the Holy Apostles, the very truth of salvation, the truth of this mystery, was for the Apostles themselves entirely clear in its undoubtedness and all-embracingness. Upon it they based all their instruction, by means of it they explain events in the life of mankind and they place it as the foundation of the life of the Church and the future fate of the whole world. They constantly proclaim the good news of salvation in the most varied expressions, without detailed explanations, as a self-evident truth. They write: "Christ saved us"; "you are redeemed from the curse of the law"; "Christ has justified us"; "you are bought at a dear price"; Christ "has covered our sins"; He is a "propitiation for our sins"; by Him we have been "reconciled with God"; He is "the sole Chief Priest"; "He has torn up the handwriting against us and nailed it to the Cross"; He "was made a curse for us"; we have peace with God "by the death of His Son"; we have been "sanctified by His Blood"; we have been "resurrected together with Christ". (source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology).
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God