On August 10, 2019, Father Theophilus would have turned 90 years old. To mark this date, we publish one of his sermons.
“We worship Thy Cross, O Lord, and we glorify Thy Holy Resurrection”
With these words, we, dear brothers and sisters, glorify the Cross of our Lord, the victorious banner of the Christian faith. Now the Holy Church calls us to worship the Life-giving Cross, so that we, being weary and tired of the three-week feat, could draw fresh strength from the Cross, worshiping it and kissing it.
During Great Lent, we ask the Lord to give us strength to perform a good deed, to complete the course of fasting, to observe the faith, to crush the heads of invisible serpents, to become the victor of sin and to attain to worship the Holy Resurrection uncondemned.
The flow of fasting is not easy. It requires continuous spiritual exploits, struggle with sin, tireless preparation for the Bright Resurrection, so that we too can be resurrected with our Lord Jesus Christ.
And so, in order to strengthen us on this path of achievement, the Holy Church will bring up the Holy Cross as a saving grace-filled means for strengthening believers with the power of the Cross through veneration and worship of the Lord’s Cross. The Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and died on the Cross for the sins of the whole world. The salvation of man was accomplished on the Cross, and from that time on, the Cross – an ancient instrument of execution and a symbol of sorrow – became a symbol of victory, an object of special honor and worship of believers. Therefore, a believer does not have such a prayer, there is no such deed that would not begin and be sanctified through the overshadowing of the sign of the Cross, through the conversion of the mind and heart to our Lord Jesus Christ crucified on the Cross.
And from year to year, from generation to generation, all those who believe in the Savior gather at His Life-giving Cross.
The Holy Church sings: “Come, the faithful, let us bow to the Life-giving tree, on it Christ the King of Glory has spread his hand.”
“Come, the faithful, let us draw not from a source that sheds corruptible water, but from a source of enlightenment, the Cross of Christ by worship. Come, draw on the inexhaustible waters, of the Cross, poured out by grace. ”
On the week of the Worship of the Cross, we hurry to church with special love and strive to receive from the Cross that great, blessed power that strengthens the soul, relieves sorrows, awakens new life and joy in the heart of every Christian.
When during the divine service the Holy Cross of Christ is solemnly taken out of the altar and the choir singing: “We bow to Your Cross, our Lord” – each of us strives for this help to the Cross and hurries to reverently bow to It and kiss It.
The Cross of Christ bears witness to the world about the great and immeasurable love of God for the human race. Let us also penetrate with our hearts into this love of God, manifested in the incarnation and sufferings of the Son of God on the cross. The Father sends His Son to earth not to judge people for their sins, but to save the world. For this, He gives the Son to earth, so that the joyless, bitter, orphaned world will know the love of God and believe in it. The Father sends the Son into the world, knowing that He will bear heavy suffering, will accept the cross and death at the hands of the very people whom He came to save. The Great and Almighty God descended before us in order to bring into human life the unfading light of faith and holy joy about Him, to be with us in our hearts and to sanctify our souls by His grace.
The best sons and daughters of mankind are walking and will follow Christ, finding in Him the meaning of life, a source of joy and consolation for their weary hearts. Especially great ascetics and holy martyrs found in Christ and His triumphant sign of the cross an inexhaustible source of strength, courage and strength.
Let us recall the life of Saint Constantine, Equal to the Apostles. At the critical moment of the decisive struggle with his adversary Licinius, Constantine was in deep thought and confusion. He placed his hopes for success in the struggle on Divine providence, that is, positively on the will of God. And God comforted and encouraged him through a wonderful vision. At night, Constantine sees the Cross of the Lord in the sky. And under the Cross there is an inscription made up of stars: “By this way, conquer.” Indeed, the king won a brilliant victory. In order to perpetuate this most important moment of his life and the success of an extraordinary victory, Constantine ordered to create a monument in the center of Rome with the inscription: “With this saving sign of the Cross, the tyrant has been defeated and the city is saved from destruction.” Thus, in the first centuries, his admirers won great victories by the holy Cross. The first Christians held the Cross in great reverence.
It is known from the life of the holy venerable martyr Nikon that when he went to military service, his mother gave him good advice in difficult times to resort to the help of the Cross. And in one of the decisive battles he was in great danger of being killed. Nikon remembered and used his mother’s covenant. He called for help from Jesus Christ and, having crossed himself with the sign of the cross, felt an extraordinary surge of spiritual strength and inflicted a great defeat on his enemies, personally eliminating several hundred enemies. Subsequently, he devoted his life to monastic service. The monk knew the power of the Cross of Christ, since he experienced this help and strength in the difficult moments of his life. The Cross of Christ renders its help at the present time to whose, who turns to the Cross with faith.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us not be deaf to the love of God! Let’s answer God with our love for Him! First of all, let us express love for God by fulfilling His holy commandments. After all, he who does not fulfill the commandments of God, theirs, does not love God. When we understand this, our cold heart will also tremble, and then the repentance that the Lord Jesus Christ expects of us will appear in it. Then we will touch the Cross of Christ with a warmed heart and from it we will receive unspeakable peace and new life in Christ our Savior!
Let us come closer to the Cross of Christ, with reverence let us touch into the Holy Life-giving Tree. Let us bow at the foot of this Life-giving Saving Sign, let us fall to it with tears, do not depart from the Cross of Christ, in order to deserve to hear the words of the Savior Himself speaking from the Cross: “… now you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23: 43). the example of the holy apostle Paul, we will not boast of anything except the Cross of Lord. In the Cross of Christ is our salvation; through him the forgiveness of sins is given to us, through him the riches of grace-filled gifts are poured out on us, in him is our strength, in him is our joy, in him is our hope.
The Cross of Christ is life-giving, for it is mysteriously united with the Resurrection of Christ. It was in this way, through the Cross, that Christ had to suffer and enter into His glory. Through death on the cross, the Lord conquered the dominion of death and opened the way for us to the gates of eternal life. Today the Church calls us not only to bow before the Cross of Christ, but also to glorify the Resurrection of Christ.
On this great day of veneration of the Holy Cross, let us pray that everything radiated by the Holy Cross – peace, joy and love – will be companions of the earthly life of each of us.
Let us also pray that the Lord will help us to spend the remaining days of Great Lent in spiritual vigor and joy – and that He will enable us to worship His holy Resurrection. Amen.
Schiarchimandrite Theophilus Rossokha