Protocol Number 104/10
September 14, 2010
The Universal Exaltation of
The Precious and Life-Giving Cross
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, I greet you in the love and joy of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I ask you to contemplate the meaning of our commemoration through one of the inspiring hymns of this day. In the service of Great Vespers we sing: “Enlighten us by your brightness, O life-giving Cross; make us holy by your might O all venerable Cross; and strengthen us through your Exaltation.” This threefold prayerful petition as presented in the hymn offers guidance to us in understanding the meaning of the glorious Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious Cross.
First “we are enlightened by the brightness of the Cross.” This is a superb brightness radiating from the Cross of Christ and illumining our minds and souls. It is a spiritual brilliance causing an illumination of our souls because it offers love as the absolute principle and rule of life, love as the ultimate wisdom of God. The brightness of the Exalted Cross, as a unique enlightening power, is in essence the brightness of the unlimited love of the Crucified Christ Whom we worship on this solemn day of September 14.
Second, “we are made holy by the might of the Cross.” Through the Cross and the sacrifice made by the “One who is without sin,” the power of sin was broken. Our sins were forgiven. The way to holiness became wide open. Our relationship with God was restored through the Cross, and through faith in Christ our lives could be restored to the holiness and image of God in which we were created. We are made holy by the power of the Cross and, as a consequence, we may proceed in seeking and upholding the will of God so as to enjoy the blessings of the kingdom of heaven, committing all of our life to Christ, because this is the path leading to holiness by the power of the Cross.
Finally, “we are strengthened by the Exaltation of the Precious Cross,” as we declare in the quoted hymn of the Feast. This is a day which gives us strength for our lives in this world and for our efforts to be with God always and under all circumstances. On this day the Cross is lifted up for all to see. Our Churches are adorned with the Cross, our clergy bless with the Cross, and faithful wear the Cross, not only as a jewel but as power too. As much as the Cross is the symbol of our faith, the same Cross gives us strength through our faith in what Christ has accomplished when He was nailed on it.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, it is our tradition as the faithful of the Greek Orthodox Church in America to offer prayers and offerings for our beloved Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and for the students, teachers, staff, directors and benefactors who give faithfully to the work and mission of this sacred institution. Following the hymn above, we can acknowledge that Holy Cross is a place of enlightenment for men and women where they receive both knowledge of the faith and intellectual skills, but more importantly where they gain spiritual maturity and deep insight into the power of faith and the wisdom of God. In addition, our seminarians are led in the path of holiness through the environment of worship, prayer, and spiritual guidance that characterizes Holy Cross. In the chapel, in their own places of prayer, and in the classroom they are shown the way of the Cross. They are prepared for lives of sacrifice, service, self-denial, and commitment to the will of God. They are also strengthened to follow the call of God upon their lives. The challenges of ministry are great, but the preparation for service received at Holy Cross instills the might and power of the Cross in our seminarians so that they can go into all the world and teach and preach in the strength and boldness of Christ.
As we celebrate this great Feast of our Church, may we, in addition to our prayers, be also willing to give generously of our resources for the needs of Hellenic College/Holy Cross, our Greek Orthodox School of Theology. May we also look upon the Cross on this day and celebrate the great love and wisdom of God as we commit to a life of holiness and as we find strength in the Cross for each day and our journey unto eternal life.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America