Saturday, April 6, 2013
Excerpt from the Homily on the Veneration of the Cross, by St. John Chrysostom
The Precious Cross of Christ (
"On the veneration of the Precious and Life-giving Cross, at the middle week of the Fast", by St. John Chrysostom (amateur translation)
The auspicious and all-honored and light-bearing day has come to us, at the middle week of the Fast, as the thrice-joyous and life-giving Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ is taken up, and placed for veneration, and those who venerate it with earnestness of heart and pure lips are sanctified, and therefore proceed on the road with greater care and more vigorously through the stadium of the Holy Fast. Today has been placed the day of the veneration of the Precious Cross, and come, O friends, let us kiss it with fear and fervor. For it reflects the rays of Christ's arising, enlightening all, and sanctifying through His grace. Therefore, let us embrace it and rejoice spiritually. Today there is joy in heaven and on earth, for the radiant and life-bearing Cross of Christ appears to the world, through which the demons flee, and illnesses are cast out, and the clouds of darkness are dissolved, and all the ends of the earth are enlightened. Today the Church of Christ is shown to be another Paradise, as the All-holy tree of the Precious Cross is placed within the center, and it celebrates the preceding pomp of the passion of Christ through the Cross, and the forefeast of His Resurrection. Today, the prophetic word is fulfilled, which says: “For behold, let us worship at the place where were the feet of our God.” Rejoice, therefore and exalt, O Church of Christ, and offer your children, controlling the passions and purified by fasting, and shining with divinely-shining virtues, and dance the inexpressible dance. For as those who formerly in the desert, who were bitten by serpents, were healed by gazing upon the bronze serpent, now, those who have passed halfway through the stadium of the Fast, who had been shown dead from the noetic serpent, have themselves been made immortal, and sharers of the passions of Christ through self-control, and sharers of His Resurrection. And not just this, but they go forth renewed, ascribing to God the victory. For the trophy-bearing and victorious weapon of the Cross of the Lord has been placed, an inconquerable weapon of Kings, and the boast of the Church, and the deposer of enemies, and the salvation of the faithful. And truly blessed are those and thrice-blessed are those who are made worthy to kiss it with pure lips and clean mouths. For it is truly a work to fulfill the word of the Lord: “Whoever would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” And see how He unnecessarily says this, for He did not say: “Whether or not you wish, you will suffer,” but how? “If you wish to follow me...I do not force, I do not compel, but I make each person the lord over his conscience. For I say: if you wish to follow me. For therefore I call well, not towards evil, nor towards temptation or torture, but towards the heavenly kingdom and the heavenly life. And therefore these things are sufficient to compel creation. If you would follow me, whether you be a man, a woman, a prince, a ruler, and wish to be saved, then follow the path. Three things are said: to deny yourself, to take up the cross, and to follow.” But as we saw before, what is it to deny one's self? Let us learn what it is do deny someone else, and then we shall know what it is to deny one's self. What is it to deny someone else? He who denies someone else, be it a brother, a friend, a neighbor, a passerby, would not be scourged for him, nor be imprisoned for him, nor suffer anything for him. He would not bestow his possessions on him, nor help him, nor be broken for him, nor suffer for him. He is in all things a stranger to him. In the same way God desires the body to be treated by us, that we be not scourged on behalf of it, nor be tempted, nor be driven by it, nor do anything else; let us not spare it. This is to deny one's self: to not permit it, but to give it up towards danger, and struggles, as if another were suffering, nor to serve it...
Therefore I hymn Your forbearance and the incomparable economy of Your mystery, O Lord. I venerate Your precious and life-giving Cross, O Master. I embrace Your passion, I kiss the nails, and I embrace the piercings of Your members. With the Reed, the Spear, and the Sponge I am filled with thanksgiving. As a royal diadem, the Crown of Thorns is put forth, and as if adorned with shining gems, it shines throughout the world from the beatings You endured. And I confess You the true God, one of the Holy Trinity, Christ Jesus, Who suffered the passion for me, and was wrapped in a shroud, and became a reproach to the lawless Judeans, and in the end was buried, and arose on the third day, and will come again to judge the living and the dead. To You belongs the glory and the kingdom, together with the Father and the Your All-holy and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!