We are about halfway through the Great Lenten journey. Orthodox churches mark this point with the Veneration of the Holy Cross at the end of the Divine Liturgy. The Church Fathers saw it was good for Christians to have a special commemoration to remind us of why we endure this time of fasting, almsgiving, repentance, additional services, prayer, and spiritual reading. The Cross.
Our Lord commands that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. A cross is a particularly cruel and lonely way to die. The victim, after being thoroughly beaten, must bear a heavy wooden beam to the place of execution. Along the way, there are only critics and mockers. Anyone who befriended him kept a distance in fear that they would suffer a similar fate. Arriving at the place of crucifixion, he is then nailed to the cross and hung tall so that all can see his failure and humiliation.
Terrible as it is, our cross is absolutely necessary for salvation. Christ looked upon and took our sin beaten humanity on himself. Let’s not be fooled by ego and pride. Our souls are greatly damaged by our passions, and we must accept this reality if we are to be healed. By a humble admission, we can take on the struggle against the passions and strive for virtuous living. Christ turned the cross to a victorious weapon over sin and death. By following His commands and ways, we can also rise above those two great enemies of humanity.
Take up the cross not as a trendy accessory but the tool of spiritual healing and restoration. Bear it with all of your weaknesses and hope in His strength.