Author Topic: Blessed Meskel! (Feast of the Holy Cross)  (Read 5216 times)

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Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Blessed Meskel! (Feast of the Holy Cross)
« on: September 26, 2010, 11:08:36 PM »

The following is from the Nine Saints Ethiopian Orthodox Monastery website:


The Mystery of our Salvation is contained within The Cross of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. And it is correct to say the "Mystery of our salvation," for what is contained there is more than a cosmic transaction (Christ Jesus pays for our sins): it is also the whole of our way of life. It is truly the Mystery of our salvation.

The extent of this Mystery is hinted at in Christ's admonition: "Whosoever would be My disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Me." This clearly goes much further than a single transaction or even our faith in the efficacy of that transaction.

The mystery is again invoked in St. Paul's statement: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet, not I, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

The clearest statement of this Mystery is perhaps found in St. Paul's description of the "mind of Christ" in the second chapter of Philippians:

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Here the Holy Apostle speaks of The Cross in its universal form - the Mystery is being unfolded. To take up our cross and follow The Lord Jesus is to have within ourselves the "mind which is yours in Christ Jesus." That "mind" (the Greek work is ‘phronema') is a complete orientation of our life - a life that understands that only in the path of self-emptying are we to find the path of exaltation. Our salvation - our deliverance from the emptiness of death - is found, mysteriously, in our willingness to be empty for Christ's sake. The way of The Cross is the way of life, and, a way of life. This is the path that Martyrs have traveled. It is the path that everyone who would know love must travel. For love is found in "laying down its life for its friends."

What we see in The Cross of The Lord Jesus is surely everything we say of it as the moment of our salvation. There The Lord of Glory - Jesus, died for us. There His blood was shed for us. There His life was poured out for the life of the world. There we were reconciled to God.

But The Cross also stands outside of time and for all time (the Lamb was slain "before the foundation of the earth"). The Cross was always the way of life. Love, self-emptying love, was always the love of God for all mankind - though until He made it manifest in the Cross of Christ we did not know it.

But now we know it. And now it should become our mind.

The Ethiopian calendar date Meskerem 17 - (western calendar date is September 27) is the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross

An additional thought:

The Orthodox Tradition, as it developed in early Church, had a great devotion to The Cross of Christ. It was believed by the Orthodox in Syria that the Shekinah glory of God, which had once dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant and filled the Temple in Jerusalem, also came to reside in The Cross following Christ Jesus death and resurrection. There was thus a very deep and profound devotion for the Cross (any Cross) within Orthodox Christian practice. It serves, I think, as a reminder that The Cross we wear from our Baptism, the sign of the Cross that we make when we pray, and The Cross wherever it is depicted and displayed, should be approached with great reverence and care. It is not (as the popular culture would make it) jewelry for the decoration of our bodies nor mere art. It is the sign of our salvation and the mystery of its power was ever held in great reverence by early Christians and everywhere to this day by Orthodox Christians.

Before Thy Cross we bow down and worship, O Christ
And Thy holy resurrection, we glorify!

"Whether it’s the guillotine, the hangman’s noose, or reciprocal endeavors of militaristic horror, radical evil will never be recompensed with radical punishment. The only answer, the only remedy, and the only truly effective response to radical evil is radical love."
+ Gebre Menfes Kidus +

Offline Salpy

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Re: Blessed Meskel! (Feast of the Holy Cross)
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2010, 12:08:46 AM »
Happy feast day!

Actually, today in the Armenian Church we celebrated the Cross of Varak:

We're definitely in Holy Cross season.  It's a great time of year.   :)

Offline Aidan

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Re: Blessed Meskel! (Feast of the Holy Cross)
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2010, 03:40:32 AM »
Happy Feast!

Tangentally, can I recommend the Nine Saints' Monastery website. The page is usually changed twice a week. Not only that, they answer personal questions speedily.

Offline CoptoGeek

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Re: Blessed Meskel! (Feast of the Holy Cross)
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2010, 09:15:43 AM »
Happy feast day!
"Be oppressed, rather than the oppressor. Be gentle, rather than zealous. Lay hold of goodness, rather than justice." -St. Isaac of Nineveh

“I returned to the Coptic Orthodox Church with affection, finding in her our tormented and broken history“. -Salama Moussa

Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Blessed Meskel! (Feast of the Holy Cross)
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2010, 09:44:04 AM »

Happy Feast day everyone!

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.
Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
—St. Isaac of Syria

Offline Schultz

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Re: Blessed Meskel! (Feast of the Holy Cross)
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2010, 10:35:41 AM »
There is a picture on the front of today's Wall Street Journal of four Ethiopian clerics with the caption "Ethiopian Church Members Observe 'Meskel' Holiday" that's even above the fold!

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