“The Cross is the protector of the whole world; the Cross is the splendour of the Church; the Cross is the glory of kings; the Cross is the support of the faithful; the Cross is the glory of angels and the terror of demons!”
(Exapostilarion for Wednesdays and Fridays)
What an amazing joy it must have been when the Holy Cross on which Our Saviour had been crucified was discovered in 327AD. The Emperor Constantine asked his mother Helena to visit the Holy sites in Jerusalem and to her joy the Holy Cross was discovered. Following this, soon afterwards, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built. Over the centuries, the Cross has become the most important sign of our Salvation, indeed we venerate it with great honour for the Cross was not only the instrument of Our Lord’s shameful, yet life-giving death but it was also THE TREE OF LIFE. The Tree of Life noted in the Garden of Eden was guarded by angels once Adam and Eve had fallen from grace and disappeared from view. Now it was brought into view again in the form of the Holy Cross. Thus, we have in our midst the Tree of Life, the enduring sign of our Salvation and the new life brought to us by Our Lord who sacrificed himself upon it.
“When the Cross was planted on earth, the arrogance of the demon fell and disappeared, for Adam returned to Paradise from which he had once been expelled. Paradise was opened for all; glory to You, O Holy God, who have willed so to do!” (Canon, Tone 2)
In the Gospel for the Sunday after the Feast (Mark 8: 34 ff), we have these challenging words from Our Lord:
“ Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”
What does this mean? It means that we are to embrace fully our life in Christ and ensure that this is at the forefront of all our earthly thoughts and endeavours. Taking up the Cross is not negative and a punitive burden but the very fullness of our life. John Henry Newman, now declared a Saint by the Roman Church, says this:
“Fear not that life may come to an end but rather fear that it may never have had a beginning.”
This is why St Paul in his letter to the Romans gives this understanding:
“None of us lives to himself. and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die. we are the
Lord’s” (Rom 14: 6-9).
We are to do all for the Lord, and in our life together, for only in this, is life in fullness. The Holy Cross reminds us of this, everyday, as we gaze upon it. We receive the challenge again and again: THIS DAY TO TAKE UP THE CROSS that your life may be transformed; that you may enter into the fullness of life.
St Paul also says;
“ The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God”.
It seems that the Leaders of the Established Church of this land have been silent at a national level, throughout the whole of this coronavirus episode . At a national level there has been no comforting and no encouragement and no enlightening guidance on offer. Above all there has been no voice of prophecy giving a clear message of what the Church is about and what the Gospel of Christ has to offer. No proclamation that the message of the Cross is the power of God to those who seek to be saved and live life to the full. Just quoting St Paul and St John Henry Newman as above could have been a focus of such prophecy. It has to be proclaimed loud and clear, that the way forward for the nation, is not only to overcome the Coronavirus, and to restore the economy, though this is necessary. Rather, it is for all to realise that without God, our Creator and the one who has given us new life, there is no real life and there is no safe future. This land and its people must return to Christian roots for sustenance and life and a new way forward. As Saint John Henry said; all should “fear not that life may come to an end but rather fear that it
may never have had a beginning”. Only life in God gives fullness of life. Without God at the helm, all is lost.
On this day we hold high the Cross, the Life Saving Cross, the Tree of Life and challenge ourselves and all in this land to live for Christ, to take up the Cross of love, the Cross of salvation. The Cross can lead us forward to renewal and fulfilment of life. For “The Tree of Life, the true spiritual vine, is hung upon the tree of the Cross, as a fountain of sweet healing wine for all mankind” (Sunday, tone 4, matins ode 3). We are now lifted up, by the Cross, from the Fall; and saved from the destructive wood of the forbidden tree.
This mainly contains homilies and messages from our priests, although there is some scope to share thoughts and interesting articles which we may want to share with others