Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
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Phone:972 529-2754

Redeeming the Time Vol. 01.22 Third Sunday of Great Lent Mar 8/22 1998

Redeeming the Time

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Dallas TX

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Mar 8/22 1998

Third Sunday of Great Lent

Veneration of the Precious Cross

Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Vol. 01.22

News and Announcements *

Many Years *

Orthodox Benevolent fund and St Nicholas *

Presanctified Liturgy Scheduling Change *

Travelers *

Sick *

Questions about the Sunday of the Holy Cross *

Synaxarion for the Third Sunday of Great Lent *

Why do we wear a cross? *

An Explanation of the Russian Orthodox Three-bar Cross *


By St. John Chrysostom *

Answers to questions *

News and Announcements

Many Years

Reader Gerasim celebrated his namesday this past week. Many years!

Orthodox Benevolent fund and St Nicholas

Our church council decided to give a monthly sum to Fr Jean in Haiti. We will be sending money earmarked for Haiti to the Orthodox Benevolent Fund, run by David James. We will also be assisting David by putting Orthodox Benevolent Fund Information on the web.

Presanctified Liturgy Scheduling Change

This service was being served on Friday evening, at 6:30 PM. It will now be served Wednesday morning at the brisk and prayerful hour of 6:30 AM.


Sergius (Sumeet) Bahadur will be traveling the entire month of February and part of March, in India and South Africa. Please pray for his safe return, and spiritual protection during his trip.

Catechuman Nicholas will be abroad for a month (in Copenhagen). Please pray for his safe return.

Reader John Wilder is in China right now and will be abroad for about two weeks.


Please pray for the sick every day. Your prayer can be very simple: "Lord have mercy upon Thy (suffering) servant…"

    • Child Nikita
    • Nikita was born prematurely (at 26 weeks) in Australia, and is fighting for his young life.
    • Priest Martin
    • Serious back pain
    • Mother Seraphima - God's little sufferer
    • Tim Clader
    • serious ankle injury
    • David Miller
    • David will be having back surgery soon.
    • Alexandra
    • breast cancer
    • Emily
    • severe headaches
    • Iakavos (James)
    • James is the son of Fr Paul Volmensky (CA). He has problems with pain in his legs and ankles.

Questions about the Sunday of the Holy Cross


How was the cross foreshadowed in the Old Testament? Give 3 examples


How did Jesus prophesy His death on a cross. Who did He tell he would die on a cross?


When was crucifixion used as a punishment?


Who remained near the cross from among His followers?


Normally Christians do not prostrate themselves on Sunday. Why? What is a prostration? On the Sunday of the Holy Cross we do prostrate. Why and when?


Why do Christians make the sign of the cross? How is it made?


Where, when, how and by whom was the true cross discovered?


How and when is the cross commemorated in the average week?


What major commemorations of the cross occur throughout the year?


How does one venerate the cross at the matins service?

How would one person venerate the cross. How should two people venerate the cross (this is done to save a little time, when there is a large amount of the faithful).

Synaxarion for the Third Sunday of Great Lent

Let all the earth venerate the Cross, through which it has learned to worship Thee, the Word

On this third Sunday of the Great Fast we celebrate the Veneration

of the precious and life-giving Cross. Since during the forty days of the Fast we are also in a way crucified, mortified to the passions, contrite, abased and despondent, the precious and life-giving Cross is offered to us as refreshment and confirmation, calling to mind the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and comforting us. If our God was crucified for our sake, how great should be our effort for His sake, since our afflictions have been assuaged through the Lord's tribulations, and by the commemoration and the hope of the Cross of glory. For as our Savior in ascending the Cross was glorified through dishonor and grief; so should we also endure our sorrows, in order to be glorified with Him. Also, as those who have traveled a long hard road, weighed down by the labors of their journey, in finding a shady tree, take their ease for a moment and continue their journey rejuvenated, so now in this time of the Fast, this sorrowful and laborious journey, the Holy Fathers have planted the life-giving Cross, for our relief and refreshment, to encourage and make easier the labors that lie ahead. Or as when there is a royal procession, the king's scepter and banners precede him, he then appears himself, radiant and joyous in his victory, causing his subjects to rejoice with him. So then our Lord Jesus Christ, desiring to show His sure victory over death and His glory on the day of the Resurrection, sends His scepter before Himself, the sign of His kingship, the life-giving Cross, to gladden and refresh us, as it greatly fortifies and enables us to be prepared to receive the King with all possible strength, and to praise Him in His radiant victory.

This week lies at the middle of the holy Forty Day Fast. The Fast is like a bitter source because of our contrition and the sadness and sorrow for sin that it brings. And as Moses plunged the branch in the bitter waters of Marah, making them sweet, so God, who has led us through the spiritual Red Sea away from Pharaoh, through the life-giving wood of the precious and life-giving Cross sweetens the bitterness of the Forty Day Fast, and comforts us as those who were in the wilderness, up until the time when by His Resurrection He will lead us to the spiritual Jerusalem. And since the Cross is called, and indeed is, the Tree of Life, it is the very tree that was planted in the Garden of Eden. So it is fitting that the Holy Fathers have planted the Tree of the Cross in the middle of the Forty Day Fast to commemorate both Adam's tasting of its sweet fruit and of its being taken from us in favor of the Tree of the Cross, tasting of which we shall in no way die, but will have even greater life.

Through the power of Thy Cross, O Christ our God,

preserve us also from the temptations of the Evil One.

And make us worthy to venerate

Thy divine Passion and life-bearing Resurrection,

having radiantly traversed the great length of the Fast,

and have mercy on us, as Thou art good

and lovest mankind.


Why do we wear a cross?

In pre­Christian times, the Cross was the instrument of a shameful and horrible death. The ancient Romans invented it and used it everywhere in order to intimidate the peoples whom they had subjugated. Everyone looked on this instrument of execution ­ the shameful Cross ­ with horror.

But a remarkable change took place with respect to the Cross after Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on it. The Lord suffered and died on the Cross. He took horrible sufferings upon Himself in order to save us from sins. The Cross received great glory, such as no other object made by the hands of man has possessed. The Cross became the sign of our salvation, through which we receive the power of God ­ the grace of God.

The Cross is the first and greatest Christian sacred object. When the priest sanctifies water, he immerses the Cross in it, and the water becomes holy. When we wear the Cross on our breast, our body constantly touches it, and from this touch it too is sanctified. The Cross that we wear protects us from all kinds of danger.

In Communist Russia, believing people ­ our brothers and sisters ­ would wear a Cross at great risk, since there could be much unpleasantness from the godless for this. But these remarkable people were not afraid to confess their faith, and they would fearlessly wear a Cross.

One ought not to look upon the Cross as some kind of jewelry like a bracelet or brooch. The Cross must adorn our soul and not our clothing, and must constantly remind us that we are Orthodox Christians, called to live according to our faith, which is founded on the Savior's sufferings on the Cross.

(Parish Life, September 1994)

An Explanation of the Russian Orthodox Three-bar Cross

Also called the Eight-pointed Cross

Through the Cross came our Salvation. We are constantly reminded that Christ died for us, and that He rose from the dead. The Image of the crucified Lord reminds us of the former; the second Image of Christ on the towel, depicting the Lord alive, reminds us of the latter. This Image is called "Not made by hands". Worshipping the crucified Lord are two flying angels, with the inscription between them: "Angels of the Lord".

The top bar is the title-board which Pilate ordered to be hung in mockery over Christ’s head on the Cross. On this board was inscribed: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (abbreviated to the Greek initials ‘INBI’ or the Latin initials ‘INRI’ in the Western tradition). This is replaced with the Christian inscription: "King of Glory" – below the knees of the angels. On the title-board is inscribed the initials 'IC XC', being the first and last letters of Christ’s name in Greek. In addition, just above Christ's arms we see the inscription: ‘NIKA’, which in Greek means: "He conquers" or "He is victorious." Frequently, we see these last two inscriptions together: 'IC XC NIKA', meaning: "Jesus Christ is victorious" (over death and sin).

The middle bar is that on which the Lord's hands were nailed. On either top corner we see the depiction of the sun (left) and the moon (right), for "The sun hid its light, and the moon turned to blood." (Joel 2:31) The inscription: "Son of God" is placed on both sides of Christ's head, and below His arms we read the inscription: "We bow down before The Cross, O Master, and we worship Thy holy Resurrection". The halo of Christ is inscribed with three Greek letters meaning "The Being" or "He Who Is", to remind us that Christ is the same God Who identified Himself with those words to Moses in the Old Law.

Behind the body of Christ, on either side, are a lance (which pierced Him) and a sponge (which was soaked with gall and offered to Christ to drink) on a pole made of reed or cane. On the body of Christ is depicted blood and water flowing forth from His side.

The slanted bottom bar is the foot-rest. In prayers for the Ninth Hour, the Church likens the Cross to a type of balance of righteousness: "Between two thieves Thy Cross did prove to be a balance of righteousness: wherefore one of them was dragged down to Hades by the weight of his blasphemy (the balance points down), whereas the other was lightened of his transgressions unto the comprehension of theology (the balance points up). O Christ God, glory to Thee."

The city of Jerusalem is depicted in the background, for He was crucified outside the city walls. By the foot of the Cross are two Slavonic letters meaning 'Mount Golgotha'; this is the hill outside the city gates upon which Christ was crucified.

Below the feet of Christ are four Slavonic letters meaning: "The place of the skull became Paradise". Hidden in a cave under the earth is 'the skull of Adam'. We are thus reminded that Adam our forefather lost Paradise through the tree from which he wrongly partook; Christ is the new Adam, bringing us Salvation and Paradise through the tree of the Cross.

Note that the Savior does not wear a crown of thorns, and that His feet are nailed with two nails. This is the proper Orthodox tradition.

From "Rules of Piety",


By St. John Chrysostom

Let us, brethren, let us draw near to the Body of Christ with trepidation and perfect purity. When thou seest it lying before thee, -- say to thine self: 'tis by means of this Body that I am now no longer earth and ashes; no longer a prisoner, but free. By means of this Body I hope to receive heaven and the good things prepared [for me] there -- life undying -- the lot of Angels, union with Christ. Death could not bear this Body, when it was crucified and wounded. And the sun, seeing this Body upon the Cross, concealed his rays, and the veil [in the Temple] was rent in twain at that time; the stones, they crumbled; and the entire earth was shaken. This Body, bloodied and pierced, poured out for all the universe the fountainheads of salvation -- blood and water. Art thou, on the other hand, desirous of coming to know its power? Ask the woman with the issue of blood, who touched not it, but the garment wherewith it was clothed; and, even then, not the whole of it, but merely its hem. Ask the sea, which bore it upon its back. Ask the devil himself, and say to him: whence cameth thine incurable wound? Why hast thou no power? How wast thou confined? Wherewith was thine flight brought to an end? And he shall indicate to thee nothing other than the crucified Body. By it was his sting dulled; by it was his head crushed; by it were principalities and powers put to shame. He put down, sayeth the Apostle, *"principalities and powers, boldly putting them to shame, having convicted them in him." * (Col. 2, 15) Ask death, likewise, and say: wherewith was thine sting taken away from thee? Wherewith is thy victory unsettled? Wherewith is thy power weakened, so that even youths and young maidens scorn thee, although before times thou wast fearsome to tyrants, and even to righteous folk as well? And she shall blame this Body. For when it was crucified, then were the dead resurrected; then was this prison-house shattered and its brass bars broken down; then did the dead rise, and the gate-keepers of hades were struck with fear. And had it been such a case as those of which there are many, it should have been the other way around: death would have become more powerful. Hence is death annihilated. In like manner as do those who consume such food and, being incapable of retaining it within themselves, also spew forth, by reason of it, that which they had consumed previously: so was it with death. Having taken the Body which she could not devour, she spewed forth also that which she had within herself; possessing it, she endured the throes of birth-giving, and suffered until she restored it. Hence doth the Apostle say: *"having undone the pangs of death"* (Acts 2, 24). No woman giving birth to a child suffereth such agony and torments as did death, having the Body of the Lord within herself. The same as happened to the Babylonian dragon when he, having partaken of food, did crumble, -- the same occurred with death. For Christ came back not through the jaws of death, but did rend and cleave the very center of the dragon's womb, and in that way, with all glory, passed through the impassable place, and poured forth light not only to this heaven, but even upon the very altar on high, because He carried up thither the very Body, as well. This Body He gaveth unto us to take with our hands and to partake of it; and this is a sign of great love...

Thus, let us approach with ardent fervor and fiery love, and then shall we not be subjected to torment. For the greater the blessing that we receive, the more shall we be chastised when we turn out to be unworthy of the boon. The Magi also venerated this Body, when it lay in a manger. Let us, who are citizens of heaven, at least imitate the barbarians. They, seeing it in a manger and in a hovel, and seeing naught of what we do, approached with great trepidation. But thou seest it not in a manger, but upon the table of offering; thou seest not a woman holding it, but a priest standing before it and the [Holy] Spirit wafting over the proffered gifts. Thou dost not simply see this very Body, as did they, but thou knowest also the power of it, and the entire economy, and there is naught wrought by means of it which thou dost not know, having been instructed in all things in detail. Thus, let us arouse ourselves and be filled with trepidation, and let us shew more piety than did those barbarians, lest approaching laxly and negligently, we not draw down fire upon our heads. I say this, by the bye, not in order that we refrain from approaching, but in order that we might not approach laxly. For in like manner as it is perilous to approach unthinkingly, so also is it famine and death not to commune of this mystic supper. This table fortifieth the nerves our soul; it formeth a link for our heart; it giveth us boldness; it is hope, salvation, light, and life. If we depart thither with this sacrifice, then with great boldness shall we enter into the sacred antechamber, being guarded from all sides by some golden weaponry, as it were. But why speak I of the future? Here, too, this mystery maketh heaven of earth for thee. Throw open the gates of heaven and behold, -- or, better yet, not of heaven, but of the heaven of heavens, -- and thou shalt see then the truth of that which hath been said. For that which is most precious of all there shall I shew thee on earth. In like manner as what is most precious of all in a king's palace is not its walls, nor its golden vault, but the body of the king, seated upon the throne: so is it in the heavens -- the Body of the King. But thou mayest see this on earth, even now. I shew thee neither angels nor archangels; neither the heavens nor the heavens of heavens, but the very Master of all this. Is it not true that thou seest on earth that which is most precious of all? And not only seest, but also touchest. And not only touchest, but also partakest of; and having partaken, departest home. Cleanse, then, thine soul; prepare thine heart for the reception of these Mysteries. For if thou wert entrusted with bearing the king's son, with all his adornment and his purple robe and diadem: then wouldst thou renounce everything earthly. And now, when thou takest not the son of a human king, but the very only-begotten Son of God, -- how ist that thou dost not tremble; tell me, how ist that thou dost not renounce thine love for all things worldly; how ist that, instead of adorning thine self with this ornament alone, thou yet lookest earthward, lovest money, art awed by gold? What excuse shalt thou have; what justification? Knowest thou not that thy Master doth shun all worldly pomp? Wast not for that reason that He, being born, was laid in a manger, and chose a Poor Mother? Wast not for that reason that to the one who had cupidity in his heart He did say: The Son of man hath not where to lay His head? And His disciples? Did they not observe the same law, abiding in the homes of humble folk, so that one abode with a currier, another with a tent-maker, and yet another with a seller of purple? For they sought not the fame of a house, but virtuous souls. Let us also emulate them. Leaving behind the beauty of pillars and marbles, let us seek dwellings on high; and, despising all the pride of life and a passion for money, let us uplift our thoughts. If we reflect soberly, we will realize that this world is not worth ourselves with its galleries and porticoes. Thus, I beseech ye, let us adorn our soul; let us prepare for ourselves this house, with which we shall be removed hence, in order that we might be made worthy of eternal happiness, through the grace and love for mankind of our Lord Jesus Christ; to Him, with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory unto ages of ages. Amen.

Translated into English by G. Spruksts, from the Russian text appearing

in +"Pravoslavnaya Rus',"* ["Orthodox Rus'"], No. 2 (1599), 15/28 January

1998. English-language translation copyright (c) 1998 by The St. Stefan Of

Perm' Guild, The Russian Cultural Heritage Society, and the Translator. All

rights reserved.

Answers to questions


IN THE prophet Ezekiel (9:6) it is said that when the Angel of the Lord was sent to punish and destroy the sinning people, it was told him not to strike those on whom the "mark" had been made. In the original text this mark is called "tau," the Hebrew letter corresponding to the letter "T.", which is how in ancient times the cross was made, which then was an instrument of punishment.

Moses, who held his arms raised in the form of a cross during the battle, gave victory to the Israelites over the Amalekites. He also, dividing the Red Sea by a blow of his rod and by a transverse blow uniting the waters again, saved Israel from Pharaoh, who drowned in the water, while Israel crossed over on the dry bottom (Exodus, chs. 14, 17).

Elisha brought a child back to life again by stretching upon him in the form of a cross:

And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. {33} He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. {34} And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. {35} Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. (2 Ki 4:32-35)


And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. {24} Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. {25} He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. {26} If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor. {27} Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. {28} Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. {29} The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. {30} Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. {31} Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. {32} And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. {33} This he said, signifying what death he should die. (John 12:23-33)

Jesus said to Peter, after his three-fold restoration:

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. {19} This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me." (John 21:18-19)


The Romans used crucifixion as a punishment for slaves and the worst criminals. It was a punishment designed to invoke terror, because of it's extreme pain, and the way it displayed the dying man for all to see in his death agonies. No Roman citizen was ever crucified.


Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. {26} When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! {27} Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. (John 19:25-27)


Christians do not prostrate on Sunday because this is the day we always celebrate the Resurrection, and we recall how God is able to make us stand. Our standing reminds us of the resurrection. There are one or two Sundays a year when we do prostrate (the Third Sunday of Great Lent, and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, if it falls on a Sunday. On this day, the hymn "Before Thy cross", which we sing while prostration, teaches us what our prostrations mean:

Before Thy Cross, / we fall down in worship, O Master, / and Thy holy Resurrection / we glorify.

When we prostrate, it is in worship of the Risen Lord, and when we raise ourselves up, we recall the resurrection.

A Christian prostrates when he makes the sign of the cross, and falls to his hands and knees (it is usually easier to have the hands touch the floor a moment before the knees), and bows his head to the ground, then gets back up.


The cross is the sign of victory. The mind of the church also knows this symbol as an effective prayer for all circumstances, if it is made with faith. There are innumerable examples of the deliverance from Christians from every kind of danger, merely when they made the sign of the cross with faith.

The sign of the cross is made by placing the thumb and first 2 fingers of the right hand together in a point, which symbolizes the Holy Trinity, with the other two fingers against the palm, which symbolizes the two natures of Christ, and touching the forehead, then the breast, then the right and left shoulders.

The is another Orthodox rite, called "Old Believer", or "Old Rite", where the fingers are held differently, but the meaning is the same.


St Helen, mother of St Constantine, discovered the Holy and Precious cross during excavations in Jerusalem, in the 4th century. The cross was found lying with the other crosses, form the thieves that had been crucified on each side of Christ. The true cross was identified when a dead man was raised back to life again after the cross was touched to him.


WE sing the troparion of the cross every Wednesday and Friday. On Wednesday, Christ was betrayed (sold), and on Friday He was crucified.

Most Sunday matins services, among the canons we sing is the "Canon to the Cross and Resurrection".

On Friday's, instead of a Theotokion in some places of the services, we sing a "StavroTheotokion", which is a hymn about the Theotokos and the Holy Cross.

We make the sign of the cross innumerable times, during our daily life, for every circumstance.


3rd Sunday of Great Lent

Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving cross (Sep 14)

Procession of the Holy cross (Aug 1)


In general, whenever one venerates an icon, or the Holy Gospel, or the Holy Cross in the center of the church, he makes two bows or prostrations, while making the sign of the cross. He then kisses the holy object on the icon stand, turns to the priest and receives a blessing, and returns back in front of the icon stand and does another bow or prostration.

2 bows, get a blessing, another bow

When two people venerate, they do everything together. The eldest gets a blessing first, and returns to the front of the icon stand, and waits for his partner. When they both are back in from of the icon stand, they do their final bow or prostration together.

On the Sunday of the Holy cross, prostrations are done in front of the Cross.

"Redeeming the Time" is an almost weekly Journal of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Texas. All issues may be found at:

All unsigned or unattributed portions Copyright 1998 Fr Seraphim Holland

Address: 2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071

Phone: 972 529-2754



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