Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord

The Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord - Commemorated on August 1 (02846_hires.jpg)

The Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: In the Greek Horologion of 1897 the derivation of this Feast is explained: "Because of the illnesses that occur in August, it was customary, in former times, to carry the Venerable Wood of the Cross through the streets and squares of Constantinople for the sanctification of the city, and for relief from sickness. On the eve (July 31), it was taken out of the imperial treasury, and laid upon the altar of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia (the Wisdom of God). From this Feast until the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, they carried the Cross throughout the city in procession, offering it to the people to venerate. This also is the Procession of the Venerable Cross." 

In the Russian Church this Feast is combined also with the remembrance of the Baptism of Rus, on August 1, 988. In the "Account of the Order of Services in the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Great Church of the Dormition," compiled in 1627 by order of Patriarch Philaret of Moscow and All Rus, there is the following explanation of the Feast: "On the day of the Procession of the Venerable Cross there is a church procession for the sanctification of water and for the enlightenment of the people, throughout all the towns and places." 

Knowledge of the day of the actual Baptism of Rus was preserved in the Chronicles of the sixteenth century: "The Baptism of the Great Prince Vladimir of Kiev and all Rus was on August 1." 

In the present practice of the Russian Church, the Lesser Sanctification of Water on August 1 is done either before or after Liturgy. Because of the Blessing of Water, this first Feast of the Savior in August is sometimes called 'Savior of the Water." There may also be a Blessing of New Honey today, which is why the Feast is also called "Savior of the Honey." From this day the newly gathered honey is blessed and tasted.


The Elevation of the Precious Cross (00817_hires.jpg)

by St. Nikolai Velimirovitch
The Honorable Cross of Christ
Before it, all honorably prostrate,
By the power of the Cross of Christ
From temptation, we are redeemed.
The Holy Cross is mightier than the demons
And from every earthly king,
From sickness, the Cross saves
And from the assaults of barbarians.
Prince Andrew, by the power of the Cross
Enslaved lands, saved,
King Manuel, by the power of the Cross
The Saracens, gloriously destroyed.
From the armies of pagans,
From the tyrannical conquerors,
From all evils demonstrated that
The power of the Cross is mightier.

Stichera of the precious Cross. Tone 4. As noblest of Martyrs.
As general protection, as source of sanctification, let us embrace the precious Cross; for it calms sufferings, brings an end to diseases and delivers sufferers from pains of every kind. More than the great deep it forms a sea with streams of wonders for those who faithfully venerate and reverence its image.

We mortals, who sail among the waves of life and are storm-tossed by a tempest of sufferings, let us with faith take refuge in the precious Tree as a vessel of salvation, and it will silence the waves and the winds and break the passions, and we will reach in joy the haven of salvation without storms.

The all-holy Cross has shone more brightly than the sun, shedding wonders like sunbeams and healings like flashes of lightning. Let us mortals, ever held fast by the darkness of dread dangers, draw near and we shall receive the light-bringing grace of healings as we magnify the God who was nailed to it in the flesh.

Doxastikon of the Aposticha of the Cross in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
The saying of your Prophet Moses has been fulfilled, O God, which said, ‘See your life hanging before your eyes.’*** Today the Cross is exalted and world is freed from error. Today the Resurrection of Christ is consecrated, and the ends of the earth rejoice as with David’s cymbals they offer you their hymn and say, ‘You have wrought salvation in midst of the earth, O God, good and the lover of mankind: the Cross and Resurrection, through which you have saved us. All-powerful Lord, glory to you.’

[***"καὶ ἔσται ἡ ζωή σου κρεμαμένη ἀπέναντι τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν σου" (Deuteronomy 28:66)]

Canon of the Cross. Ode 9. Heaven was amazed.
Once fixed to the Cross with nails through feet and hands, pierced in the side, your thirst quenched with vinegar and gall, you healed my wounds, O King of all, supremely good, the joy, the sweetness, glory and eternal redemption of all.

Fair beyond sapphire and gold, bright as the sun you are, divine Cross, lying circumscribed by place and ever manifestly surrounded by spiritual Powers, yet enlightening every part of the inhabited world with rays of the divine power.

The Cross is the harbour of the storm-tossed, guide and support of the wandering, glory of Christ, strength of Apostles and Prophets, boast of Champions, refuge of all mortals. As we all see it set fourth in the midst, we greet it with loving devotion.

When you are about to come on earth to judge the world which you fashioned, Lord, with the Angelic hosts marching ahead and the Cross shining out more brightly than the beams of the sun, take pity on me by its power and save me who fallen more than all mortals.

‘Without corruption I gave birth to you from the womb, whom the Father begot before the ages; how do corrupt mortals rend you, my Son, and inhumanly gouge your side with a lance, your hands and feet with nails?’ cried the All-pure, whom we fittingly magnify.

During the veneration of the Cross, we sing the following Idiomel Sticheron.
Tone 2.
Come, believers, let worship the life-giving Tree on which Christ the King of glory willing stretched out his hands and raised up to the ancient blessedness us whom of old the foe, luring us through pleasure, had made exiles from God. Come, believers, let us worship the Tree though which we have counted worthy to crush the heads of invisible enemies. Come, all you families of nations, let us honour with hymns the Cross of the Lord. Hail, O Cross, the complete redemption of Adam. In you our faithful Sovereigns boast, as by your power they mightily defeat the people of Ishmael. We Christians, as with fear we now lovingly greet you, glorify God who was nailed to you, as we say, ‘O Lord, who were nailed upon it, have mercy on us as you are good and love mankind’.

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Archimandrite Ephrem ©
This page was last updated on 10 May 2009 

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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