"And he said unto them: Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in e
On Sunday, March 14th, we will observe Mid-Lent. This, the Third Sunday of the Fast is dedicated every year to the Adoration of the Holy Cross. As the Cross is at the center of our Faith, it seemed natural to the Church over the course of history, to place this "weapon of victory" in the midst of the assembly mid-way through the most spiritually intense season of the year. Gazing and meditating upon it, the faithful, who have chosen the way of the Cross as the way that leads to life, are renewed and strengthened for what remains of their Lenten pilgrimage to Pascha.
It has been said that Lent is a time for returning to "the basics" of the Faith, for re-evaluating priorities, for renewing one’s commitment to Jesus Christ. The Cross, in a profound sense is basic to our Faith. Its acceptance, therefore, as the way of life for Christ’s followers lies at the very heart of any understanding of Lent. The Cross is our badge and emblem as Christians. Remove the Cross from our lives and we have nothing. Without the Cross, both in Christ’s life and in ours, there is no genuine Christianity and consequently, no reason to observe Lent or any other sacred season.
This fact may seem self-evident. Yet ours is a time in which words like sin, repentance, sacrifice, the Cross and crucifi
In speaking of the Cross we must take note of its constant use by Christians. We adorn our church buildings and homes with it. We carry it reverently in procession and venerate it. The Cross is worn around our necks as a daily reminder of who we are: people who have died and risen with Christ. In addition we sign ourselves with the Cross. In so doing we mark or brand ourselves, on the one hand, with the emblem of shame. For our Lord, pure, undefiled and guiltless, was put to death in a manner reserved for the worst of criminals. It is written, "cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."(Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:23) Indeed He was "condemned between two thieves," one of whom confessed, "...we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss...Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." (Luke 23:41-42)By suffering crucifixion our Lord endured the penalty that each of us deserves for our many sins, for our wickedness.
In and through Christ, however, the Cross, once synonymous exclusively with humiliation, becomes His glory and ours as well. It becomes His victory over sin and death and ours also. Through the Cross and its completion in the Third Day Resurrection we have everlasting life. Thus the Cross is the main emblem for Christians of joy and strength. Along with
The Christian must take very seriously the words of our Lord in the Gospel lesson quoted above: "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." How do we deny ourselves and lose our lives, in order to come after the Lord to save our lives? The answer is very simple, but its very simplicity makes it the hardest thing on earth to accomplish. Nevertheless it must be done, by putting God and our relationship with Him, first, above every other consideration: before business, pleasure, country, family, friends or reputation. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" What a price to pay in order to enjoy a few fleeting years of earthly goods, or brief moments of fame, that we value so highly. Yet, there is no denying it, our Lord stated repeatedly, in no uncertain terms, "What shall a man give...?"
Taking up the Cross and following the footsteps of Christ is not merely a formal compliance with a set of e