Calendar Christian Living Great Feasts

The Elevation of the Cross

“…and by the virtue of Thy Cross
preserve Thy habitation.”

September 14th

Holy Scripture Accounts

Vespers (September 13th)

  • Exodus15:22-16:1, 28:10-17
  • Isaiah 60:11-16
  • Proverbs 3:11-18

The Gospel (from feast day Matins)

“‘Father, glorify thy name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ He said this to show by what death he was to die. The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Christ remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.’ When Jesus had said this, he departed and hid himself from them.”

– John 12:28-36

The Epistle (from feast day Liturgy)

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.’

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

– I Corinthians 1:18-24

The Gospel (from feast day Liturgy)

“When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, ‘Crucify him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God.’ When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid; he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin…’”

“When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, ‘Behold your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’ Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek…”

So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), ‘I thirst.’ When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit...”

“Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth—that you also may believe.

– John 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, 30-35

Troparion (Tone 1)

O Lord, save Thy people, And bless Thine inheritance.
Grant victory to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries, And by the virtue of Thy Cross
Preserve Thy habitation.

( audio )

Kontakion (Tone 4)

“As You were voluntarily raised upon the cross for our sake,
Grant mercy to those who are called by Your Name, O Christ God;
Make all Orthodox Christians glad by Your power,
Granting them victories over their adversaries,
By bestowing on them the Invincible trophy, Your weapon of Peace.”

Instead of the Trisagion

Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify. (Thrice)
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
And Thy holy Resurrection we glorify.
Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify.

Teaching from the Elevation of the Cross Icon

The Cross raised up high for all to honor is our focus, goal, and inspiration. It is the symbol of Christ’s victory over sin and death.”

Saints Constantine and Helen are prominently featured in the icon since both had profound experiences with Christ’s Cross. Helen oversaw its discovery, while Constantine’s miraculous vision of the Cross led to his becoming the Roman emperor and ending the persecution of Christians.”

Patriarch Makarios of Jerusalem elevates the Cross for veneration after having helped Saint Helen find it. This is the origin of the feast’s and icon’s name: ‘The Elevation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross.'”

Bishops, Deacons and Other Believers represent the Church, the gathering of believers who take up their crosses and follow the Messiah. Christ’s first disciples scattered at the sight of the Cross; now His followers gather around it.”

The Colors Red and Green abound in this icon. Red is a reminder of the blood that Jesus shed on the cross, while green represents the life that is granted to us by His sacrifice.”

The Church of the Resurrection depicted in the background is more popularly known as the Holy Sepulcher. The central worship space of the large complex still functions as the katholicon (main church) of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. The complex, shared by various Christian groups, includes the sites of the Crucifixion (Golgotha) and Resurrection (Christ’s tomb) within its walls.”

Quoted from: Heaven meets Earth: Celebrating Pascha and the Twelve Feasts (page 10), by John Kosmas Skinas

More information

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