Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lord's Day of the Veneration of the Cross

What our Saviour saw from the Cross - Tissot

There is much more to this Lord’s Day than a mere commemoration of the physical relic of the Cross, glorious though it may be. We can never forget, amidst the trappings of religion that often encumber and conceal it, that the Cross was endured for us, and it is also meant for us, those of us who follow Jesus. What does the world look like to us? Are we standing with our feet on the ground, looking up and adoring the crucified Lord? Or is our flesh nailed down to the Cross for love of Him, with whom we look upon a world that, lost in its own sin and suffering, gazes upon us, uncomprehending?

In Paradise of old, the tree stripped me bare, for by the eating thereof, the enemy brought in death. But now, the most holy tree of the Cross that doth clothe all men with the garment of life hath been set up on earth, and all of the world is filled with most boundless joy. Seeing it exalted, ye people, now, let us the faithful all cry out with one accord to God in faith: Thy house is full of glory, O Lord.
— Elevation of the Holy Cross - Sessional Hymn of the Canon

Here follow some gleanings on the Cross from earlier posts on
Cost of Discipleship.

Discipleship means the Cross

The knowledge of the Cross
is concealed in the sufferings of the Cross.

The Cross is the door to mysteries. Through this door the intellect makes entrance in to the knowledge of heavenly mysteries. The knowledge of the Cross is concealed in the sufferings of the Cross. And the more our participation in its sufferings, the greater the perception we gain through the Cross. For, as the Apostle says, "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."

God does not create a cross for man. No matter how heavy a cross a man may carry in life, it is still just wood, from which man himself was made, and it always grows from the soil of his heart.

The way of God from the beginning of time and from the creation of the human race has been the way of the cross and death. How did you get your idea that everything is just the opposite? You must realize that you are outside the way of God, that you are far from Him, that you do not wish to walk in the steps of the Saints, but want to make some special way for yourself and travel by it without sufferings. The way of God is a daily cross. No one has climbed to heaven by living a life of pleasure.

Christians often assume that to ‘take up our cross’ means simply to carry a burden. When we run into a life trouble, we will say things like ‘oh, this is just my cross to bear.’ We basically shrug it off, totally missing the significance of the cross.

Ever consider that the cross is not meant to be a burden?

It is meant to cause death.
The cross is meant to kill us!
It is an instrument of death!
Oh that wonderful cross!

Christianity can be many things to many people, but unless it is first and foremost the cross, it can devolve into ritual, culture, or magic. Not that everyone will have the same cross to bear and to die on, not that what it looks like or feels like will be the same for all, not that those who follow Christ to Calvary will all understand what is happening to them the same way, but nonetheless the cross awaits us all, at least all of us who seek to follow Jesus.

Why, then, do you fear to take up the Cross, which is the road to the Kingdom? In the Cross is salvation; in the Cross is life; in the Cross is protection against our enemies; in the Cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness; in the Cross is strength of mind; in the Cross is joy of spirit; in the Cross is excellence of virtue; in the Cross is perfection of holiness. There is no salvation of soul, nor hope of eternal life, save in the Cross. Take up the Cross, therefore, and follow Jesus. Christ has gone before you, bearing His Cross; He died for you on the Cross, that you also may bear your cross, and desire to die on the cross with Him. For if you die with Him, you will also live with Him. And if you share His sufferings, you will also share His glory. See how in the Cross all things consist, and in dying on it all things depend. There is no other way to life and to true inner peace, than the way of the Cross, and of daily self-denial. Go where you will, seek what you will; you will find no higher way above nor safer way below than the road of the Holy Cross.
— Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Book 2, Chapter 12

                       Cross, do not fail me
                       when it comes my hour
                       to bleed. As to a strong-masted vessel,
                       let me be bound to you to share your power.
                       Hug me close as the wind we together wrestle.

                       Lost, let them nail me
                       as my ransomed soul
                       a steed of spirit mounts and my hungers hang.
                       Let me inherit what the jailer stole
                       and hidden, as I thirst, what prophets sang.
— Romanós

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