THIRD SUNDAY OF THE GREAT LENT
Veneration of the Holy Cross
This Sunday prepares us for the commemoration of the Crucifixion, but it also reminds us that the whole of Lent is a period when we are crucified with Christ.
As we have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24), and have mortified ourselves during the course of the Fast, the precious and life-giving Cross is now placed before us to refresh our souls and to encourage us who may be filled with a sense of bitterness, resentment and depression.
The Cross reminds us of the Passion of our Lord, and by presenting His example, it encourages us to follow Him in struggle and sacrifice. We must experience what the Lord experienced during His Passion. The Cross teaches us that through pain and suffering we shall see the fulfillment of our hopes: the heavenly inheritance and eternal glory!
THEMES OF THE SUNDAY
1. Joy and gladness in the crucified Christ and his saving cross.
2. The cross is presented to us for refreshment and support.
3. At mid-lent we look ahead to our goal: the glory of the cross which leads to the resurrection, to Pascha.
The EPISTLE reading: Hebrews 4:14-5:6
. Who is the high priest who as gone into the very presence of God?
. What does vs. 15 say about our high priest?
. What will we receive and find by God’s throne (vs. 16)?
The GOSPEL reading: Mark 8:34-9:1
. What three things are required of anyone who wants to walk with Jesus?
. Give some examples of “losing” (in the world’s eyes) one’s life for Christ and the Gospel.
How is the “loss” a “gain”?
. How has the cross been a gift in your life?
. How has the cross been a task in your life?
MID-LENT: THE HOLY CROSS
The entire Christian mystery is found in this total reversal of values:
. the defeat on the cross becomes the victory over death
. the humiliation of the crucified Christ becomes the glory of God
. the man who is condemned to death and crowned with thorns is consecrated King of the universe
. his throne, the footstool under his feet, is the cross which destroys the demon
. the instrument of death becomes source of life
“a scandal for the Jews, folly for the Greeks who seek wisdom,” exclaims St. Paul (Ps. 98:5)
To Your Cross, O Master,
we bow in veneration,
and we glorify Your Holy Resurrection!
WHAT CAN I DO AT HOME OR IN MY CLASSROOM?
1. Decorate a crucifix and place it in the icon corner.
2. Have a procession with the decorated cross and place it in the icon corner. Sing: “We bow profoundly…” and bow profoundly before the cross.
3. Make the Sign of the Cross reverently.
4. Go to church and venerate the holy cross on the Tetrapod.
WHY DO WE USE FLOWERS?
· Christ’s death will bring us new life making us the aroma of Christ.
· Flowers are a vision of the resurrection.
· Death and resurrection are always together. By death He conquered death and gave us life.
Flowers remind us that:
. Human life began in the garden
. Jesus suffered in the garden
. Jesus was buried in the garden
. Mary sees the risen Lord in the garden
. Rev. 2:7 says that paradise will be in a new garden
. Through sin we have cut ourselves away from the garden of life, and through death and resurrection Jesus is restoring the garden to us (Rev. 22:2)