Saturday, September 13, 2014

St. Theophan the Recluse on the "Inner" Exaltation of the Precious Cross

The Exaltation of the Precious Cross of Christ (source)
In the 7th century, the Precious Cross was exalted festally in Jerusalem, so that it could be seen and venerated by the all the people.
In memory of this, the celebration of the exaltation of the Cross is performed every year on September 14th in parish and monastic churches. This uplifting, however, is external. There is, let us say, a spiritual Exaltation of the Cross, which occurs within the heart of man.
When? When someone steadfastly decides to allow himself to be crucified, putting to death his passions. Whoever does not do this is truly not a Christian. The Apostle says this utterly clearly: “And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). Those, in other words, who are Christ's, have crucified their sinful selves, together with their passions and desires.
The Christians, therefore, exalt the Cross within themselves, and keep it lifted up throughout their whole life. Is it like this in truth? Each of us must ask his conscience. And may he not receive the response: “You worked your fleshly urges and were obedient to your desires. Your cross is not uplifted, but is tossed into the pit of the passions, where it is rotting from your contempt and your negligence.”
After they took down the dead Body of Christ, the Precious Cross remained on Golgotha. The Judeans took it and threw it unto a garbage heap.
After the Resurrection of the Lord, again, they did not hesitate to fill His All-Holy Tomb with stones and dirt, in order to hide it.
Ultimately, when the Romans conquered during the revolt in Jerusalem in 70AD, they razed the city and its surroundings. And later, when they rebuilt it, in the place where the All-Holy Tomb was, at the inspiration of the enemy [i.e. the devil], they built a temple to Aphrodite, the idolatrous goddess of immorality.
Something similar occurs with our internal cross. When the enemy conquers and razes our noetic Jerusalem, our soul, this Cross is taken down from the Golgotha of our heart and thrown into the garbage heap of sinful desires and pleasures. In its place, we place and worship the idol of Aphrodite, until Divine Grace visits us, of course if we truly repent, which tears down the idol of sin, and exalts within us the Cross of the death of the passions.”
-St. Theophan the Recluse
(From the book, “Directions in the Spiritual Life”, amateur translation of text from the Greek here)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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