Home > Death & the Future Life, Orthodox Feasts > The Third Sunday Of Great Lent – Sunday of the Precious Cross

The Third Sunday Of Great Lent – Sunday of the Precious Cross

The Lord said, ―”If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel‘s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” And Jesus said to them, ―”Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power.”

( Mark 8:34—9:1)

Veneration of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross (Tropar, Tone 1)

O Lord, save your people, and bless your inheritance. Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries; and by virtue of Your Cross, preserve your habitation.


Veneration of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross (Tropar, Tone 1)

Now the flaming sword no longer guards the gates of Eden; it has been mysteriously quenched by the wood of the Cross! The sting of death and the victory of hell have been vanquished; for You, O my Savior, have come and cried to those in hell: “Enter again into paradise.”
Homily on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross
Fr. Anthony Perkins

Do you see the irony?

This is the feast celebrating the Precious Cross. We wear crosses. We put them in our houses. We adorn our temples with them (inside and out; on our doors and the very top of our cupolas). We trace its image over our bodies throughout the day. Have you ever realized how that looks?

An instrument of torture and humiliation, perfected by pagans, has become the sign of our faith. A degrading and wicked instrument of death is, according to the Hymns of Church, the “unconquerable trophy of the true faith, door to paradise, succor of the faithful, and rampart set about the Church” (Vespers stichera).

This is something that should wake us from our slumber. This is something so jolting – but so fundamentally true – that it should force us to see things not through the eyes of the fallen world, but through the eyes of “true seeing”. Christ brought sight to the blind during his earthly ministry. Through contemplation of the Cross, He will bring spiritual sight, true sight, to all of us (and in seeing, we will follow Him through the Cross, to Paradise).

The Cross is anathema to the world – it does not understand the Passion. It does not understand sacrifice. It only understands and seeks the comfort and pleasure of today and the foreseeable (and finite) future. The world sees through the fallen eyes of Adam. Adam hoped to find pleasure in the beautiful fruit of the Tree, but found only bitterness (a beautiful tree brought Him only bitterness). The true-seeing man seeks true pleasure today and forever, and finds it in the Cross (a horrific Cross brings him everlasting joy). The promises of worldly pleasure are empty, but the promise of the Cross is already being fulfilled.

Yes, there is great irony in the Cross, but it is only because the Truth is so out of synch with the millennia of lies that we have told in our falleness. It is the one piece of Order and Truth in a world of chaos.

  • In the chaos of infantry battles, the king would plant his banner so that his scattered troops would rally around him. It was a single point of stability in the chaos of battle. Rallying to it and around it was the only hope of survival for the individual soldier and for the force at large. The Cross is planted in this world so that we might rally to it. We are not meant to struggle alone, but together (working 

    together, not individual bravery or skill, is the key to military success). And not just around any cause, but around the True King’s banner: the Cross.

  • The taste of Fruit of the Tree was sweet, brought illness; the taste of the Cross is bitter, but brings healing to all. While this is jarring, it accords with our experience. Medicine is bitter (or it used to be); shots hurt. Treatment can be long and excruciating. More so because it does not always work.

But know this: the medical treatment of the Cross can be difficult, but it’s success is sure. The Cross brings healing to all. Through the Cross, Christ took on the sins of the world – through His Cross, we are healed of all our diseases and infirmities and made worthy to grow in unity with Him and one another. He is the Great Physician, and the love of the Cross is the medicine of salvation.

“Come, Adam and Eve, our first father and mother, who fell from the choir on high… when of old with bitter pleasure ye tasted from the tree in Paradise. See, the Tree of the Cross, revered by all, draws near! 

Run with haste and embrace it joyfully, and cry to it with faith: O precious Cross, though art our succor; partaking of thy fruit, we have gained incorruption; we are restored once more to Eden, and we have received great mercy.” (Vespers stichera).

Do not be ashamed of Our Lord. Do not be ashamed of His Cross. Deny yourself. Pick up your cross and follow Him. Follow Him to eternal health and everlasting joy. This is the way of Christ. This is the way to victory.

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