The Path of the Christian: The Cross of Christ (Part III)

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My beloved spiritual children 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,

SEPTEMBER 14th--The Universal Exaltation of the Honored and Life-giving Cross

SMALL VESPERS (ESPERINOS)

Stichera Hymns. Fourth Tone.

"Being lifted upon the Cross, Thou didst raise Adam with Thyself and, with him, our whole fallen nature, O our Lord. Wherefore, exalting Thy spotless Cross, we ask Thee, O Friend of man, for Thy power from above, as we cry out: O Thou Most High, save them that revere the divine, bright, and hallowed Exaltation of Thy Cross with fitting honor, since Thou art God the All-merciful."

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"As trophy invincible, as a shield strong against the foe, as a scepter given by God, O Savior Christ, we bow and worship Thy holy Cross, whereby all the world is saved; for its sake doth Adam dance; and with songs, we the companies of those born of earth laud and honor it, keeping feast in gladness on its godly Exaltation, while asking pardon of all our sins."

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"The Tree of true life, which was planted in the Place of the Skull, whereon the King of the ages wrought salvation in the midst of the earth, sanctifieth the ends of the world as it is exalted today, and the Church of the Resurrection is consecrated. Angels in Heaven rejoice, and men upon earth are glad, crying out like David and saying: Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship the footstool of His feet, for He is Holy, Who granteth the world great mercy."

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"Let us strike up a festival of songs today, and with joyous face and tongue let us openly cry out: O Christ, Who for our sakes hast accepted condemnation, and spittings, and scourgings, and wast wrapped about in a purple robe, and didst ascend the Cross; Whom when the sun and the moon beheld, they hid their light, and the earth quaked in fear, and the veil of the temple was rent in twain: Do Thou Thyself now grant us Thy Precious Cross as a guardian and protector and expeller of demons, that as we all embrace it, we may cry: O Cross, save us by thy power; sanctify us with thy brightness, O Precious Cross, and make us strong by thine Exaltation; for thou hast been given unto us as the Light and salvation of our souls."

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Aposticha Hymns. Second Tone.

"Openly is the Cross of Christ today exalted, the Wood that doth bestow life, whereon He was affixed in the flesh, recalling all mankind."

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Seeing the Cross's Wood exalted, let us render all majesty and glory to God, Who in His Goodness was crucified while wearing flesh."

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"Rejoice, thou divine defense protecting us the faithful, our wall that none can break through, through which we are raised up from the earth, O Cross of Christ our God."

Glory; both now.

"Come, let us all embrace and kiss with joy and gladness the Wood of our salvation, whereon Christ, Our Redemption and Ransom, was crucified out for us."

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"...it is no exaggeration or mere cliché to say that Orthodoxy's first response to the concept or symbol of the Lord's Cross is to associate it with victory. Almost every Patristic hymn and writing celebrates the Cross as the Lord's 'victory'; and approaches His sufferings through the lens of His Glory. It does not exegete the Resurrection through the lens of the Cross, but the Cross through the gateway of the glory: the glory that was His from eternity as Only Begotten, and the glory that He won bodily, as the Church's Hero and Liberator, in His incarnate Ministry as Beloved Servant. The theme of victory does not underestimate the impact of the Lord's suffering (we do not wish to hurry over the Cross in order to arrive painlessly at the joy of the Resurrection) but equally the Church does not become lost in the sufferings, or overcast by the gloom of a religion of suffering and satisfaction of an angry God. The Lord's wounds are His glory in the struggle not with His Father, but with the forces of evil. The Passion of Christ (and so it calls out to all His believers) is undertaken for us to be our encouragement: for the Lord was glorified; His suffering and rejection was the warrior's blow that reduced him to his knees, but he stood up again and won the fight.

He won it decisively, on behalf of the people: and resurrectional joy shared in the Church is, not least, a light that floods into every aspect of believers' lives, that they will never, ever, have to walk in the darkness in which He walked, that darkness of complete lovelessness and triumphant evil, for He has broken the victory of loveless evil, and brought love even into the depths of hell. Even if the Lord sends a share of His sufferings to each of His friends during the course of their lives (large or small it may be according to the challenge He has set for each one), no disciple ever walks again in hopeless darkness, for His presence is always as the Giver of Light, the Warrior who won triumph; and the Cross is His Sign of Victory that casts away hate-filled gloom, and sends the forces of evil flying in panic. The poor are never forgotten by the Lord of Humility, and even their ongoing sufferings, their apparent continued occlusion by the forces of evil and oppression, serve only to diffuse the Light of Christ's blessing over a darkened world. All Orthodox Christians know this be true as a basic element of their faith, and of their practice of prayer. The Cross is their victory, and their hope, and often has been their consolation in the long dark night of suffering. The marking of the self with the sign of the Cross is one of the most distinctive things any observer will see if they ever look at the Orthodox Christian at prayer." (Source: The Orthodox Church by Fr. John Anthony McGuckin)

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George