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Author Topic: Why do we venerate the cross? and other questions.  (Read 822 times) Average Rating: 0
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Trevorthodox
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« on: January 12, 2011, 05:14:53 PM »

!: Why does my prayer book address the cross as a person, in the way we would address the saints? Wasn't it only a piece of wood, an inanimate object made by men? How it is different from talking to some gallows or electric chair? I want to venerate the cross, but I'm only seeing the wood!

2: Similarly, I don't really understand about relics. I can accept that miracles may happen, but can't go so far as to be happy to say that dead bones are always miraculous?

3: How is Mary the "salvation of all Christian people"? Isn't that Jesus? I'm missing some info here.

Thanks in anticipation. Trevor
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 05:26:59 PM by Trevorthodox » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2011, 05:37:45 PM »

!: Why does my prayer book address the cross as a person, in the way we would address the saints? Wasn't it only a piece of wood, an inanimate object made by men? How it is different from talking to some gallows or electric chair? I want to venerate the cross, but I'm only seeing the wood!

The cross to Christians has become more than a torture device. It has been transformed the means of our salvation. Therefore, you aren't looking at the cross, you are looking through the cross, and admiring the sacrifice Jesus gave to conquer death. The cross has become the new Tree of Life from the garden at Eden, and the Eucharist, it's fruit.

Quote
Matthew 10:38
And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me.
   
Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

2: How is Mary the "salvation of all Christian people"? Isn't that Jesus? I'm missing some info here.

Thanks in anticipation. Trevor

Mary wasn't just a woman that we remember on Christmas. She is the only one who accepted God her whole life, and was worthy of bearing God Himself. We honor her as that "vessel", and much more, we honor her fortitude to remain sinless.

I recommend "The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God". Except for slight polemic against RC veneration, it excellently explains Mary's importance. You can also pick up a hardcopy for fairly cheap on Amazon.
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2011, 06:28:03 PM »

!: Why does my prayer book address the cross as a person, in the way we would address the saints? Wasn't it only a piece of wood, an inanimate object made by men? How it is different from talking to some gallows or electric chair? I want to venerate the cross, but I'm only seeing the wood!
All prayer is received by God, prayer addressing the Cross is actually addressing Him Who was transfixed on it. The Cross is bound to Christ because He was nailed to it.
I have my deceased father's stopwatch in my drawer. It is of no use to me, but I keep it safely in it's original box because it belonged to him and he used it all his working life, where he worked hard to educate myself and my brothers. That stopwatch reminds me of my father's sacrifice for us, and for this reason, throwing it in the bin would be unthinkable to me. This is "veneration". If I do this for a mechanical stopwatch which belonged to my earthly father, how much more should I venerate the Things which belong to my Heavenly Father and which He used to sacrifice Himself not only for me, but for everyone (including my earthly father whom I hope to see again one day thanks to the Cross)?

2: Similarly, I don't really understand about relics. I can accept that miracles may happen, but can't go so far as to be happy to say that dead bones are always miraculous?
We don't venerate the relics of the Saints because they are miraculous. We venerate them because, like the Cross, they belong to God Who took up residence in them- the Saints' bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit. Even the objects the Saints use or touch are connected with them and therefore with God. Hence, even inanimate pieces of cloth touched by St. Paul carried God's healing to the sick (Acts 19:11-12).

3: How is Mary the "salvation of all Christian people"? Isn't that Jesus? I'm missing some info here.
If you drink poison, and someone hands you a bottle containing the andtidote, you can call the bottle your "salvation", even though your "saviour" is the antidote inside it. The same goes for the Mother of God. There is no such thing as "Mariology" in Orthodox theology. Every teaching about the Virgin Mary or "Theotokos" ("God-Birther") is actually a teaching about Christ (Christology). For example, the teaching of the Two Natures of Christ, Divine and Human, requires that the Incarnate Christ was born from a Human Mother, and the fact that we call her "Mother of God" or "Theotokos" proclaims that Christ was not only human, but was also God also from the moment of His Incarnation. The All Holy Theotokos is the Bridge by which Our Lord Christ came down from Heaven to save the world. She is the doorway through which Christ entered time and space. For this to happen, the All-Holy Mother of God had to accept her mission that she would do this, and she did: "And Mary said: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.'" ( Luke 1:38). In this act, the Virgin Mary accepted her role to bring salvation into the world. She could have said "No"- God does not impose Himself on anyone. By accepting her role as the Mother of God, she gives gives us Christ the Saviour, and in thanks to her for allowing Him to enter the world, we call her the  "Salvation of Christians".
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 06:30:26 PM by ozgeorge » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2011, 06:56:01 PM »

"In pre­Christian times, the Cross was the instrument of a shameful and horrible death. The ancient Romans invented it and used it everywhere in order to intimidate the peoples whom they had subjugated. Everyone looked on this instrument of execution ­ the shameful Cross ­ with horror.

But a remarkable change took place with respect to the Cross after Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on it. The Lord suffered and died on the Cross. He took horrible sufferings upon Himself in order to save us from sins. The Cross received great glory, such as no other object made by the hands of man has possessed. The Cross became the sign of our salvation, through which we receive the power of God ­ the grace of God.

The Cross is the first and greatest Christian sacred object. When the priest sanctifies water, he immerses the Cross in it, and the water becomes holy. When we wear the Cross on our breast, our body constantly touches it, and from this touch it, too, is sanctified. The Cross that we wear protects us from all kinds of danger."

http://www.orthodox.net/articles/why-wear-a-cross.html
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2011, 10:33:49 PM »

The cross to Christians has become more than a torture device. It has been transformed the means of our salvation. Therefore, you aren't looking at the cross, you are looking through the cross, and admiring the sacrifice Jesus gave to conquer death. The cross has become the new Tree of Life from the garden at Eden, and the Eucharist, it's fruit.

3 Tree of Lives then, in the Beginning, Middle and End. There's that 3 again...
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2011, 05:05:10 PM »

The Cross that we wear protects us from all kinds of danger."

http://www.orthodox.net/articles/why-wear-a-cross.html

I had wanted to wear a cross for months as a sign of faith and devotion. There are many fashion crosses on sale, but they didn't feel right. I waited months. Then one day I found it: some Orthodox nuns from Belarus left some humble wooden crosses for sale at the Christian book-store. The humbleness of the wood appealed to me. It is a truly blessed Orthodox thing I wear. Let the devil read it! "Tsar slavy, ICXC, NIKA" Let those words be on my heart.
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2011, 05:12:53 PM »

!: Why does my prayer book address the cross as a person, in the way we would address the saints? Wasn't it only a piece of wood, an inanimate object made by men? How it is different from talking to some gallows or electric chair? I want to venerate the cross, but I'm only seeing the wood!

I think this is what my Mother was thinking!  Grin  One of the Christmas presents I gave to my her and her husband this year was a cross (something like this). When she opened it up she responded with a fake smile and thank you, but you could tell she didn't know what to make of it. She's a sometime-Methodist, not really anti-Catholic/Orthodox, but still completely unfamiliar with traditional Christianity. She was trying to be nice, asking what some of the writing meant, but she seemed mostly confused why I would give that in particular to her. I think you have to sort of take a bath in Orthodox waters before it starts to really sink in, the meaning of it all. Just putting your foot in to test the waters gives you a feel for what's going on, but in the end it's just a shallow and passing feel if that's all the further you ever go. To really understand you have to dive in with your whole body. Not that there's anything wrong with testing the waters first Smiley
« Last Edit: January 15, 2011, 05:14:05 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2011, 05:35:22 PM »

I have been with the Orthodox Church as an inquirer and catechumen for just over a year, and although I believe, and come to accept the teaching on holy icons, I have not yet come to a place where I can have a personal faith in them (For similar reasons I am asking about the cross and relics) As such the time for me to buy one is not yet come.

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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2011, 09:22:50 PM »

We were given icons before our chrismation, and a bit before we were ready to have them. It wasn't until I started praying with faith before them that they became "real" to me! Like having the cross, it takes just a bit of faith and desire and the rest will come!
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