St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Ottawa

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Veneration of the Precious & Life-Giving Cross

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Third Sunday of Great Lent

Veneration of the Precious & Life-Giving Cross

Prepared by Kathleen McKinnon

On the third Sunday of Great Lent, the Church celebrates The Veneration of the Holy Cross (also known as the Adoration of the Holy Cross). The Cross is the most important symbol we have, showing that God became Man and it is by “His death, our death He put to death”[1] –meaning the Cross is a reminder of what Christ did for us, His saving action, and it is through this Cross we have eternal life. This is why it is often referred to as the “life giving Cross” and the “Tree of Life”. As a King is preceded by a procession after a victory, the procession at church with the cross proceeds our King, Jesus Christ, Who is about to proclaim His victory over death.

Celebrating this Sunday not only prepares us for the upcoming commemoration of the crucifixion but also encourages us during the Lenten period, it reminds us that we cannot experience the Resurrection without the Crucifixion. This day reminds us we also need to be crucified during this Lent journey to be prepared to experience the Resurrection, in other words, we need to be crucified with Christ by crucifying our passions to also be resurrected with Him. Seeing and venerating the Cross then calls to mind this goal, a goal that is closer with every Sunday, and reminds us of the Death that gave us life.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann in his work Great Lent, A Journey to Pascha coined this day as “Mid-Lent” saying:

The meaning of all this is clear. We are in Mid-Lent. On the one hand, the physical and spiritual effort, if it is serious and consistent, begins to be felt, its burden becomes more burdensome, our fatigue more evident On the other hand, having endured this fatigue, having climbed the mountain up to this point, we begin to see the end of our pilgrimage … Lent is our self-crucifixion, our experience, limited as it is, of Christ’s commandment heard in the Gospel lesson of that Sunday…But we cannot take up our cross and follow Christ unless we have His Cross which He took up in order to save us. It is His Cross, not ours, that saves us. It is His Cross that gives not only meaning but also power to others. 

Photo from Facebook Page

Photo from Facebook Page

Apolytikion for the Holy Cross in Tone One 

O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, granting to Thy people victory over all their enemies, and by the power of Thy Cross preserving Thy commonwealth.


[1] Akathist to our sweetest Lord Jesus Christ, O

Categories: Feasts & Saints