The Veneration of the Cross

At the Vigil on that day, after the Great Doxology, the Cross is brought in a solemn procession to the center of the church and remains there for the entire week – with a special rite of veneration following each service. It is noteworthy that the theme of the Cross which dominates the hymnology of that Sunday is developed in terms not of suffering but of victory and joy.

The Third
Sunday of Lent is called “The Veneration of the Cross.”

At the Vigil
on that day, after the Great Doxology, the Cross is brought in a solemn
procession to the center of the church and remains there for the entire week – with
a special rite of veneration following each service. It is noteworthy that the
theme of the Cross which dominates the hymnology of that Sunday is developed in
terms not of suffering but of victory and joy.

More than that, the theme – songs
(hirmoi) of the Sunday Canon are taken from the Paschal Service – “The Day
of the Resurrection” – and the Canon is a paraphrase of the Easter Canon. The
meaning of all this is clear. We are in Mid – Lent.

On the one hand, the physical
and spiritual effort, if it serious and consistent, begins to be felt, its burden
becomes more burdensome, our fatique more evident. We need help and
encouragement. On the other hand, having endured this fatique, having climbed
the mountain up to this point, we begin to see the end of our pilgrimage, and
the rays of Easter grow in their intensity.

Lent is our self – crucifixion, our
experience, limited as it is, of Christ’s commandment heard in the Gospel
lesson of that Sunday: “If any man would come after me, let him deny
himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

But we can not
take up our cross and follow Christ unless we have His Cross which He took up
in order to save us. It is His Cross, not ours, that saves us. It is His Cross
that gives not only meaning but also power to others.

This is explained to us
in the synaxarion of the Sunday of the Cross:   – On
this Sunday, the third Sunday of Lent, we celebrate the veneration of the
honorable  – and Life – Giving Cross, and
for this reason: inasmuch as in the forty days of fasting we  – in a way crucify ourselves…and become
bitter and despondent and failing, the  –
Life – Giving Cross is presented to us for refreshment and assurance, for
remembrance of  – our Lord’s Passion, and
for comfort…

We are like those following a long and cruel path  – who become tired, see a beautiful tree and
many leaves, sit in its shadow and rest for  – a while and then, as if rejuvenated,
continue their journey; likewise today, in the  – time of fasting and difficult journey and
effort, the Life – Giving Cross was planted in  – our midst by the holy fathers to give us
rest and refreshment, to make us light and  – courageous for the remaining task…

Or, to
give another example: when a king is coming,  – at first his banner and symbols appear, then
he himself comes glad and rejoicing about  – his victory and filling with joy those under
him; likewise, our Lord Jesus Christ, who  – is about to show us His victory over death,
and appear to us in the glory of the  – Resurrection
Day, is sending to us in advance His scepter, the royal symbol – the  – Life – Giving Cross – and it fills us with
joy and makes us ready to meet, inasmuch as it  – is possible for us, the King himself, and to
render glory to His victory…

All this in  – the midst of Lent which is like a bitter
source because of its tears, because also of  – its efforts and despondency…but Christ
comforts us who are as it were in a desert  – until He shall lead us up to the spiritual
Jerusalem by His Resurrection…for the  – Cross is called the Tree of Life, it is the
tree that was planted in Paradise, and for  – this reason our fathers have planted it in
the midst of Holy Lent, remembering both  – Adam’s bliss and how he was deprived of it,
remembering also that partaking of this  – Tree we no longer die but are kept alive…

[Taken
from, “Great Lent” by the late Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann,
1974. Available at: 800 – 204 – book.]

See also:

Chants to the Holy Cross




Troparion to the Cross[

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] Koinonikon of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross[

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] Contakion to the Holy Cross [

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] We Venerate Your Cross and Glorify Your Resurrection [

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] Chorus of the Saint Trinity-Sergius Lavra: Rejoice, the Vivifying Cross[

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].

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