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The Precious and Life-giving Cross

 from a sermon by Saint Theodore the Studite


How precious the gift of the Cross, how spendid to contemplate!  In the Cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise:  it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste.  The fruit of this Tree is not death but life. not darkness but light.  This Tree does not cast uis out of paradise, but opens the way for our return.

This was the Tree on which Christ, like a king on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny.  This was the Tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in his hands, feet, and side, healed the wound of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature.  A tree once caused our death, but now a Tree brings life.  Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a Tree.  What an astonishing transformation!  That death should become life, that decay should become immortality, that shame would become glory!  Well might the holy Apostle exclaim: "Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!" [Galatians 6.14].  The supreme wisdom that flowered on the Cross has shown the folly of worldly wisdom's pride.  The knowledge of all good, which is the fruit of the Cross, has cut away the shoots of wickedness.

The wonders accomplished through this Tree were foreshadowed clearly even by the mere types and figures that existed in the past.  Meditate on these, if you are eager to learn.  Was it not the wood of a tree that enabled Noah, at God's command, to escape the destruction of the flood together with his sons, his wife, his sons' wives and every kind of animal?  And surely the rod of Moses prefigured the Cross when it changed water into blood, swallowed lup the false serpents of Pharaoh's magicians, divided the seas at one stroke and then restored the waters to their normal course, drowning the enemy and saving God's own people?  Aaron's rod, which blossomed in one day in proof of his true priesthood, was another figure of the Cross, and did not Abraham foreshadow the Cross when he bound Isaac and placed him on the pile of wood.

 
 
Matins Hymn for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross


Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. 


Today he who is in essence unapproachable, becomes approachable for me and suffers his Passion, delivering me from passions.  He who grants light unto the blind is spat upon by the mouths of the transgressors, and he gives his back to scourging for the sake of those that are held captive.  When the pure Virgin, his mother, saw him on the Cross, she cried aloud in pain:  "Woe is me, my Child!  What is this that Thou hast done?  Thou who wast in beauty fairer than all mortal men, dost now appear without life and form, having neither shalpe nor comliness.  Woe is me, my Light!  I cannot bear to look upon Thee sleeping, and I am wounded inwardly, a harsh sword has pierced my heart.  I sing the praises of Thy Passion, I venerate Thy merciful kindness:  O longsuffering Lord, glory to Thee!"

Now and Ever and Unto Ages of Ages.  Amen.
 
 
 
Today the words of the Prophet are fulfilled: for see, we worship at the place on which Thy feet stood, O Lord; and tasting from the Tree of salvation, we have been delivered from our sinful passions at the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Thou who alone lovest mankind.