Third Sunday of Great Lent, Veneration of the Cross

27 March 2011

On Sunday of the third week, during matins, the Life-creating cross of the Lord is brought out into the middle of the church for the veneration by the faithful, that is why this Sunday and the following week are called of the Veneration of the Cross. The cross stays in the middle of the church until Friday of the fourth week. According to the typicon, there are four set times for veneration during this week: on Sunday, on Monday, on Wednesday and on Friday. On Sunday, veneration takes place only during matins (after the bringing out of the cross), on Monday and Wednesday it takes place during the first hour, and on Friday it happens after the “dismissal of the hours.” This is done for the encouragement and consolation of the repenting Christians. The Holy Church compares the Cross with the tree of life from paradise. According to the teaching of the church, the cross is also likened to the tree, placed by Moses into the bitter waters of Marah, to make them sweet for the Hebrew people during the forty years of wandering in the desert. The cross is also likened to a tree, under the shade of which tired travelers stop to rest, as they are being led into the promised land of the eternal inheritance.

What can better spiritually strengthen a person, who undertook a distant journey, and in this case, a fasting Christian, other than a look, directed toward the Cross, upon which Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself suffered? Lent is a difficult and responsible time for everyone, striving to draw near unto God. It is the time of the mortification within oneself of the “old” man, time for the expulsion of the passions, bad habits and passionate desires, therefore in the spiritual sense the very important is the reminder to the faithful about the sufferings and death upon the cross of our Savior, which He endured willingly for the salvation of the world. The Cross is the call to augmented repentance and weeping over one’s sins, yet at the same time it is the hope of the resurrection, for, if we suffer with Christ, then we shall be glorified with Him, and if we die with Him, then shall we be raised with Him. Let us recall the place in the Gospel, where the Lord says to every one of us: “Deny thyself and take up thy cross and follow Me.” Everyone has his own cross, his own difficulties, illnesses, sorrows and sins. We must bear it without grumbling, giving thanks to God for all things that we receive from His right hand.