Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Elevation of the Holy Cross

This Sunday, our priest mentioned something that I found fascinating.  As most people know, on September 13, 2001, workers at Ground Zero found a crossbeam from the World Trade Center in the shape of a cross.  It just so happens that the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America celebrates the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross on the evening of September 13 each year, although the Feast day is appointed as September 14.  The reason for this is perhaps a little controversial within the Church, but it amounts to this -- if a parish wishes to celebrate a Feast day in the evening, we do it with a Vesperal Divine Liturgy the night before, since Vespers is the first service of the following day (and Vespers the night of the Feast would be the first service for the day after the Feast).

As we celebrated this Feast tonight, it occurred to me how fitting it is that we celebrate the Elevation of the Cross on the same day the Cross was raised from the rubble at Ground Zero.  How absolutely appropriate that as we remember the 10th anniversary of the horrific events of September 11, 2011, we can only 2 days later remember the hope that sprang forth from the ashes this day 10 years prior.

The Feast of the Elevation of the Cross marks 2 events.  First, the finding of the Cross by the right-believing Empress Helena, Equal to the Apostles, and second the return of that Cross to Jerusalem from Persia by the Emperor Heraclius in 628.

By the mere planting of thy Cross, O Christ, the foundation of death did shake; for him whom Hades did swallow eagerly, it delivered up with trembling; for verily, thou didst reveal to us thy salvation, O holy One. Wherefore, do we glorify thee, O Son of God. Have mercy upon us.

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