From the desk of Fr. Andrew

September 2018

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On September Fourteenth the Church celebrates one of the twelve major feast days of the year according to the Ecclesiastical Calendar: The Exaltation of the Precious and Life Saving Cross. Like many major feast days there are three Gospel lessons attached to this feast day: the Gospel before teh feast day (John 3:13-17), the Gospel on the day of the feast (John 19:6-11) and the Gospel lesson read on the following Sunday of the feast day (Mark 8:34-9:1).

From the Gospel lesson before the feast day we read about the trail and crucifixion of our Lord and Savior. On the day of the feast day we read about the Old Testament account of Moses in the wilderness lifting up a pole in the form of a serpent, which preempts Christ being lifted up on the cross; and from the Gospel lesson after the feast day we read about Jesus instructing us to pick up our cross and follow Him. Thus, we have the Old Testament prophesy, the New Testament fulfillment and the divine instruction from Christ Himself. Moses proclaimed it, Jesus fulfilled it and now it is up to each and every one of us to live it.

It is important to remember that Jesus was unjustly accused of several crimes and was brought before the authorities and before Pontius Pilate; and again, was found innocent. Although Jesus could have called upon a legion of angels He said nothing in His defense. Thus, He was unjustly tried and convicted of crimes He never committed and for that He was spat upon, tormented and whipped; and yet He never uttered an unkind word or looked for revenge. Nails were driven through His hands and feet and yet, no cruel or unbecoming words came from His mouth. He then accepted the cross because He knew the Father's will and what would flow from the cross: our salvation.

Being human after the fall in the garden means carrying within ourselves corruptive passions and from one of the feast day hymns three truths are observed: 1) we are still being deceived in this life; 2) it is our corruptive passions which allow us to be deceived; and 3) we still need the power and protection of Christ's cross to help us in our process of salvation. It is by deception that we become greedy, jealous, envious and all the rest. It is by deception that we, like Adam, are led away from God and commit sin, which is of itself, separation from God. Thus, since we are all born from Adam we all possess some kind of passion which has the potential to separate us from the One who truly loves us. The passion of lust, anger, laziness, selfishness, greed and the rest all have the very real potential to sever us from God's grace. Consequently, (negative) passions that have the potential to separate us from God must become the cross(es) that we carry. We must deny them to follow Jesus toward salvation.

From Holy Scripture we read in several places Today is the day... now is the acceptable time... My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, today, right now Christ and His Church offers us an opportunity to begin anew. At every divine service of the Church and especially at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy the faithful are given a gift and that gift is the opportunity to recognize and overcome negative passions and to start our spiritual walk unsullied once again. It is however, up to each and every one of us to be bold and mature enough to observe and recognize those passions which keep us from God and to nail them to the cross and to follow Jesus imitating His humility and meekness; His forgiveness and love.

END NOTE: After the feast day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Friday, September 14, 2018 (we will not process the Cross on a tray of basil. We will process the Cross and the tray of basil on the following Sunday - Sunday, September 16th so that our Sunday School children, teachers, etc. can observe and experience the procession as well. Thank you for your understanding.

God's continued blessing, +Fr. Andrew