Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
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Redeeming the Time Vol. 02.33 3rd Sunday of Great Lent Mar 1/14 1999

March 1/14, 1999 - Vol. 02.33

Third Sunday of Great Lent

Adoration of the Precious Cross
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

News and Announcements *

Travelers *

Lenten Fasting *

St John Maximovitch Orthodox Mission *

Synaxarion for the Third Sunday of Great Lent *

Questions about the Sunday of the Holy Cross *

Why do we wear a cross? *

An Explanation of the Russian Orthodox Three-bar Cross *

(Also called the Eight-pointed Cross) *

St John Maximovitch on The Exaltation of the Precious Cross *

Explanation of the Cross Which we Wear about the Shoulders on a Cord. *

Gleanings From the Fathers *

Come, Adam and Eve… *

On this Day ... *

Sign Yourself with the Sign of the Cross *

The Cross is the Door to Mysteries *

How do we Obtain the Knowledge of the Cross? *

How do we bear the cross? *

Why do we honour the Cross? *

"Far be it for me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" *

He who loses his life will save it *

Let us lift up our hearts! *

I see nothing else … *

Poetry *

This is what my father lost formerly In Paradise *

The Victory of the Cross *

Answers to questions *

News and Announcements


Larry and his fiancée Natasha, and her son Gregory, whom he picked in Washington DC last week, are making their way back to Texas, passing through the hills of Kentucky, Larry's boyhood home. God granting, Larry will be baptized on Holy Saturday and he and Natasha will be married in April or June. Please pray for our travelers.

Lenten Fasting

During all of Great Lent, on weekdays (Monday through Friday), we eat no animal products of any kind, save honey. We eat no meat, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese. In addition, we do not drink any wine or hard liquor, or use olive oil. We should make an attempt to eat simply, and not go to great lengths to make sumptuous meals, but devote more time to prayer. The services at the church provide an excellent opportunity for this. We should make every effort to attend more of the services than we are in the habit of doing.

On weekends in Great Lent, we may have wine and olive oil, but maintain our abstinence from all the other things mentioned above.

St John Maximovitch Orthodox Mission

The mission in Austin is being faithful in the most important thing - prayer. They are serving Small Compline with the canons used at Matins on Saturday night, and the Third and Sixth Hours and the Typica on Sunday morning. In addition, despite their small number, they faithfully gather on Wednesday evening to sing an Akathist. They chanted the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete the first four days of Great Lent, as we did here. They have had several choir practices, and are learning the services. They will be visiting St Nicholas next weekend, and as part of their kliros-training, will be the readers in all of the services next Saturday and Sunday.

Please remember to chant the troparion of St John Maximovitch daily (see the literature rack), in order to pray together with them for the good success of the mission.

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 then 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, and then he then himself appears, 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.

Amen. Translated from Triodion, siest' Tripesnets: Triod' Postnaya, Moscow, 1904, by Robert Parent.

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? Whom 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 every 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).

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",

St John Maximovitch on The Exaltation of the Precious Cross

Before the time of Christ, the cross was an instrument of

punishment; it evoked fear and aversion. But after Christ's death on the Cross it became the instrument of our salvation. Through the Cross, Christ destroyed the devil; from the Cross He descended into hades and, having liberated those languishing there, led them into the Kingdom of Heaven. The sign of the Cross is terrifying to demons and, as the sign of Christ, it is honored by Christians.

"O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant

victory unto Orthodox Christians over their adversaries, and by the

virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy community."

The beginning of this prayer is taken from the twenty-seventh

Psalm. In the Old Testament the word "people" designated only those who confessed the true faith, people faithful to God. "Inheritance" referred to everything which properly belonged to God, God's property, which in the New Testament is the Church of Christ. In praying for the salvation of God's people (the Christians), both from eternal torments and from earthly calamities, we beseech the Lord to bless, to send down grace, His good gifts upon the whole Church as well, and inwardly strengthen her.

The petition for granting "victory to kings" (Grant victory to Orthodox Christians over their adversaries) (ie: to the bearers of

Supreme authority), has its basis in Psalm 143, verse 10, and recalls the victories of King David achieved by God's power, and likewise the victories granted Emperor Constantine through the Cross of the Lord. This appearance of the Cross made emperors who had formerly persecuted Christians into defenders of the Church from her external enemies, into "external bishops," to use the expression of the holy Emperor Constantine. The Church, inwardly strong by God's grace and protected outwardly, is, for Orthodox Christians, "the city of God." Heavenly Jerusalem has its beginning. Various calamities have shaken the world, entire peoples have disappeared, cities and states have perished, but the Church, in spite of persecutions and even internal conflicts, stands invincible; for the gates of hell shall not prevail against her (Matt. 16:18).

Today, when world leaders try in vain to establish order on earth, the only dependable instrument of peace is that about which the Church sings:

"The Cross is the guardian of the whole world; the Cross is the beauty of the Church, the Cross is the might of kings; the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful, the Cross is the glory of angels and the wounding of demons." (Exapostilarion of the Exaltation of the Cross)

(from a sermon on the Exaltation of the Cross by St John of Shanghai and

San Francisco)

Explanation of the Cross Which we Wear about the Shoulders on a Cord.

Take heed also concerning the Cross which thou wearest about thy

shoulders. Remember the covenant which exists between thee and

Christ Himself. When thou camest forth from the baptismal font, thou didst promise to be a servant of Christ and didst venerate His

Crucifixion, the Cross of Christ, and wast signed with the Cross of

Christ and didst receive from the priest's hand the Cross of Christ,

which thou didst place upon thy shoulders. thou didst accept

Christ's covenant, whereby thou didst promise to follow Christ

according to the Gospel; as it is written: "He that taketh not His

Cross and follloweth after me, is not worthy of Me." Thou hast

taken up the Cross and promised to follow after Christ. Be mindful then, that thou wearest upon thy body the image of the Cross of Christ, upon which He voluntarily suffered for our salvation. This is God's covenant; this is the ensign of Christ the King: this is the standard of the heavenly hosts; thereby wilt thou be known as a servant of Christ. If anyone ask thee, "What is that?", answer him thus, as it is written: "I bear on my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." If he say, "Where is it written, and who hath commanded thus?", tell him that the Lord carried the cross when the Lord went to His voluntary Passion. It was He Who charged us who believe in Him to carry the Cross. As the divine Luke saith, "They laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the Cross that he might bear it after Jesus." At that time, also, the wise thief by the cross entered into Paradise. But if the man reproach thee and make further inquiries, flee from him quickly, for he is not a believer. For when a man is overly inquisitive about things divine, he hath a deep heart, and God is exalted over him, but he descendeth down to hell, because he seeketh to know what is above him, and keepeth not that which hat been handed down to him.

Excerpts from "The Son of the Church" - Number 69

Gleanings From the Fathers

Come, Adam and Eve…

Come, Adam and Eve, our first father and mother, who fell from the choir on high through the envy of the murderer of man, when of old with bitter pleasure ye tasted from the tree in Paradise. See, the Tree of the Cross, revered by all, draws near! Run with haste and embrace it joyfully, and cry to it with faith: O precious Cross, thou art our succour; partaking of thy fruit, we have gained incorruption; we are restored once more to Eden, and we have received great mercy.

Stichera from Vespers, Sunday of the Cross, The Lenten Triodion.

On this Day ...

On this day doth the myrrh of the divine vessel of myrrh give forth its fragrance, even the Tree fragrant with life, the Cross of Christ; let us breathe its divinely scented sweet odour, as we worship it with faith unto the ages.

Triodion, Sunday of the Cross

Sign Yourself with the Sign of the Cross

Call upon Him in time of temptation, sign yourself with the sign of the Cross, turn your gaze away from the temptations, keep away from people who incline you towards evil or irritate you, and then you will be a victor over your invisible enemies.

Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky

The Cross is the Door to Mysteries

The cross is the door to mysteries. Through this door the intellect makes entrance in to the knowledge of heavenly mysteries. The knowledge of the cross is concealed in the sufferings of the cross. And the more our participation in its sufferings, the greater the perception we gain through the cross. For, as the Apostle says, "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."

The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac of Syria.

How do we Obtain the Knowledge of the Cross?

The knowledge of the Cross is concealed in the sufferings of the Cross.

St. Isaac the Syrian

The Nails of the Cross tore up the decree….

See to it that we do not again become debtors to the old contract. Christ came once; He found the certificate of our ancestral indebtedness which Adam wrote and signed. Adam contracted the debt; by our subsequent sins we increased the amount owed. In this contract are written a curse, and sin, and death, and the condemnation of the law. Christ took all these away and pardoned them. St. Paul cries out and says: `The decree of our sins which was against us, He has taken it completely away, nailing it to the cross.' He did not say `erasing the decree,' nor did he say `blotting it out,' but nailing it to the cross, so that no trace of it might remain. This is why He did not erase it, but tore it to pieces. The nails of the cross tore up the decree and destroyed it utterly, so that it would not hold good for the future.

St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions.

How do we bear the cross?

Truth shows how we should manifest hatred of life when he says: `Anyone who does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.' We bear the Lord's cross in two ways: when we afflict our bodies by abstinence, or reckon our neighbor's need to be our own by compassion. A person who manifests his sorrow at another's need is carrying a cross in his heart.

St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies

Why do we honour the Cross?

Why do we honour the Cross with such reverence that we make mention of its power in our prayers after asking for the intercession of the Mother of God and the Heavenly Powers, before asking for that of the Saints, and sometimes even before asking for that of the Heavenly Powers? Because after the Saviour's sufferings, the Cross became the sign of the Son of Man, that is, the Cross signifies the Lord Himself, incarnate and suffering for our salvation.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

"Far be it for me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ"

(Gal. 6:14)

Truly this symbol is thought despicable; but it is so in the world's reckoning, and among men; in Heaven and among the faithful it is the highest glory. Poverty too is despicable, but it is our boast; and to be cheaply thought of by the public is a matter of laughter to them, but we are elated by it. So too is the Cross our boast. He does not say, `I boast not,' nor, `I will not boast,' but, `Far be it from me that I should,' as if he abominated it as absurd, and invoked the aid of God in order to his success therein. And what is the boast of the Cross? That Christ for my sake took on Him the form of a slave, and bore His sufferings for me the slave, the enemy, the unfeeling one; yea, He so loved me as to give Himself up to a curse for me. What can be comparable to this?

St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Galations.

He who loses his life will save it

The one who knows God will follow the Lord's footsteps, bearing the cross of the Saviour. It is said, "The world is crucified to him and he to the world." The Lord says, "He who loses his life will save it." We can "lose our lives" ion one of two ways. First, we can risk our lives just as the Lord did for us. Secondly, we can separate our lives from the customary things of this world. Bearing the cross means to separate our souls from the delights and pleasures of this life. If you do this, you will find your life again - resting in the hope of what is to come. Dying to ourselves means being content with the necessities of life. When we want more that these necessities it is easy to sin.

St. Clement of Alexandria in The One Who knows God.

Let us lift up our hearts!

How can we forget our final destination? How is it possible to be so ungrateful to the Creator, Who created us after His own image and likeness, incorruptible, and for union with Himself; Who redeemed us by His Cross, and opened to us the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven? How can many of us become "like the beasts that perish"? "Let us lift up our hearts!"

St. John of Kronstadt

I see nothing else …

Three elders went to visit Abba Stephan the priest and while they remained there talking about what is beneficial to the soul he remained silent. The elders said to him, "You are not answering us father. It was for the benefit of your counsel that we came to you." Then he said to them, "Forgive me, but I did not know what you were talking about until just now. But I can tell you what is the matter with me: I can see nothing else by night or by day, but our Lord Jesus Christ hanging on the cross." And the elders went their way greatly edified.

John Moschus, Leimonarion, 64


This is what my father lost formerly In Paradise

The Most High planted in the middle of Paradise

The thrice blessed wood, the gift of life for us,

In order that, in approaching it,

Adam might find eternal and immortal life.

But he did not strive earnestly to know this life,

And he failed to attain it, and revealed death.

However, the robber, seeing how the plant in Eden

Had been beautifully transplanted in Golgotha,

Recognized the life in it and said to himself:

`This is what my father lost formerly

In Paradise.'

Kontakia of Romanos, On the Adoration at the Cross

The Victory of the Cross

Now then, Hades, mourn,

and I join in unison with you in wailing,

Let us lament as we see the tree

which we planted changed into a holy trunk.

Robbers, murderers, tax-gatherers, harlots, rest beneath it,

and make nests in its branches

in order that they might gather the fruit of sweetness

from the supposedly sterile wood.

For they cling to the cross as the tree of life.

Leaning against it and swimming

They are carried along with its aid and come to anchor

As though in a calm harbor

Again in Paradise.

Kontakia of Romanos, On the Victory of the Cross.

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, chaps. 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 its 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 prostrating, 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. Then one touches the forehead, then the breast, then the right and left shoulders.

The is another Orthodox rite, called "Old Believer", or "Old Rite", in which 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, from 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.

When two people venerate, they do everything together. The eldest (by baptism) kisses the holy object and gets a blessing first, and returns to the front of the icon stand, and waits for his partner. When they both are back in front 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. Distribute this text if you wish, but only if attribution and all contact information are included. I would appreciate being contacted if any large-scale use of this text is desired. All unsigned or unattributed portions © 1998 Fr Seraphim Holland. All rights reserved

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Fr. Seraphim Holland
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2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071, USA

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