His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

Homily at the Κατάδυσις τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ on the Holy Theophany

January 6, 2022

Spring Bayou, Tarpon Springs, Florida


Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We have arrived at the moment which we have all waited for – the sacred tradition of the Immersion of the Holy and Precious Cross. Moreover, we have most excellent representatives of our young people gathered here at the Spring Bayou, who will dive into the water on behalf of the fullness of the Church to bring to us the “Weapon of Peace.”

And although only one will bring up the Cross, all of them will share in the blessedness of its Baptism in these Bayou waters, and all of us share in the symbolism of this sacred act.

Because in going under the waters, these brave and hearty souls remind of us of the vows made at our own Baptisms. Their struggle to retrieve the Cross, and to lift it on high, is an image par excellence of the Christian life.

For each and every Christian is called to take up the Cross of Christ. But we can only find it in the depths of our souls, where It was planted on the day of our Baptism.

In this sacred Mystery, the Cross comes to us like a tender shoot, like a root out of dry ground. And it is through Baptism that the parched ground of our spirits is watered, and the Cross is nurtured and fed. Throughout our lives, we are called to retrieve the Cross from deep within our hearts, from the place where it was planted on the blessed day of our Baptism.

For the Cross is the bridge that enables us to travel the ways of sacrificial love, of forgiveness, of making peace with our enemies, of cutting off the egotistic desires of our passions. And ultimately, it is the bridge by which we cross over from this world to life everlasting.

Therefore, my beloved,

As these marvelous young people dive into the depths to retrieve the Holy Cross, plumb the depths of your own souls to lay hold of It for yourselves. Allow your heart, mind and soul’s grasp on the Precious and Life-giving Cross be as firm and strong as the hands that will emerge from the Bayou today, uplifting the Cross of our Savior.

In this way, we shall renew ourselves with the mystical streams of our Baptism, and lay hold of eternal life.

Through the Power of the Holy, Precious, and Life-giving Cross!