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Elevation of the Cross


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#1 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 05:59 AM

Dear all,

Tomorrow is the fast of the Elevation of the Cross (for those on the New Calendar). I heard a theologian on the radio explain that Christians are happy on this occasion, because it was through the cross that our sins were washed away. It seems a basic enough statement of our faith, but then I got to thinking (always a bad idea it seems!): how can we be happy that we got let off something we did, and somebody else paid the price? Isn't that an unjust and inhuman 'happiness'?

A second question related to the above is whether then any sorrow for Christ's suffering is permitted on this day?

In Christ
Byron

#2 Michael Stickles

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 11:58 PM

The OCA website gives a slightly different account of why this is a feast day:

St Helen took part of the Life-Creating Wood and nails with her to Constantinople. The holy emperor Constantine gave orders to build at Jerusalem a majestic and spacious church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, also including under its roof the Life-Giving Tomb of the Lord and Golgotha. The temple was constructed in about ten years. St Helen did not survive until the dedication of the temple, she died in the year 327. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335. On the following day, September 14, the festal celebration of the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross was established.


In Christ,
Mike

#3 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 05:36 AM

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your response giving the history of the feast. I realise that it's a festal occasion because it also celebrates the Church of the Resurrection (13th Sep) and the power of the Holy Cross, but I'm still wondering about the general rationale behind being 'happy' over Jesus' sacrifice. We know we were saved by it, but how can we rejoice in His suffering? Isn't that perverse in a way? The cross was, after all, an instrument of lethal humiliation and torture reserved for society's condemned. How can we be 'happy' that Christ suffered on it, even if He did do it for us and of His own free will?

I know I'm missing the point here, but I'm not sure how?!

In Christ
Byron

#4 Kusanagi

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 09:42 AM

how can we be happy that we got let off something we did, and somebody else paid the price? Isn't that an unjust and inhuman 'happiness'?


That is why is some hymns and i think in the akathist to the Holy Cross we say things like no matter how much we hymn and praise God because of what he has done it is never enough. God humbled himself to such an extent he suffered a humilitating death.
How I feel it is a reminder of how much indebted to God we are and how grateful it is for us for Him to do all He did to save us His creation. Some people do use this as humility that God died for us and say they are not worthy some like atheists say he died for no reason.

Also it is not good to think in a human way that what happened is perverse. I asked my spiritual father about this too concerning the burning of St Sava's relics by the Turks and I thought it's sadistic to celebrate it in church but he said I had to look at the spiritual side of things because that is what Christians do to go towards a deeper meaning and not just scratch the surface. The Turks thought they could destroy Christian faith and belief by burning the great St Sava's relics but instead it had the opposite effect and faith grew stronger in the people who witnessed the atrocity.

It is like people reading the bible and come across references that God allowed babies to be killed and immediately think God is evil how can he let babies die when He could of intervened?
Then people have all sorts of bad thoughts and fall away from God.

It is also relating to what St Paul says that I am made strong through my weaknesses it is something people outside the church doesn't understand. People think yes we destroyed the man Christ by Crucifixation and think that's the end of everything but beyond that our means of salvation was made.

#5 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 09:45 AM

We certainly do not rejoice that He suffered. Why do you think we fast most every Friday? In remembrance of His suffering. On Great and Holy Friday we sing the Lamentations which are not "happy" but certainly "hopeful" songs.

This particular day is not about His suffering per se. It is about the discovery of a great and powerful weapon against the prince of this world, a weapon he thought would grant him victory, but instead, is the symbol of his defeat. Isn't that something to be happy about?

#6 Michael Stickles

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 01:30 PM

As Herman said, we rejoice in His triumph, just as the Scripture says (Coloss. 2:15):

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross].


In Christ,
Mike

#7 Paul Cowan

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 03:24 AM

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your response giving the history of the feast. I realise that it's a festal occasion because it also celebrates the Church of the Resurrection (13th Sep) and the power of the Holy Cross, but I'm still wondering about the general rationale behind being 'happy' over Jesus' sacrifice. We know we were saved by it, but how can we rejoice in His suffering? Isn't that perverse in a way? The cross was, after all, an instrument of lethal humiliation and torture reserved for society's condemned. How can we be 'happy' that Christ suffered on it, even if He did do it for us and of His own free will?

I know I'm missing the point here, but I'm not sure how?!

In Christ
Byron


Dear Byron,

When you have time look on Ancient Faith Radio under "Homilies from All Saints" and find these two podcasts.

"Holy Week - The Cross"
"The Cross-Hope, Transformation, Warning"

These are both very good explanations of word for word what you are asking above.

Paul

#8 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 01:56 PM

Dear all,

Thanks to everyone for their useful and informative responses.

In Christ
Byron

#9 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:23 AM

Just something interesting :

After the service, the faithful are given a couple of sprigs of basil.

Anyone know why?

Effie

#10 Nina

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:37 AM

Of course.

The basil grew where the Holy Cross was found. Tradition tells that the aroma of the basil attracted Saint Helena and she ordered them to dig there.

And basil (βασιλικός) in Greek means kingly, royal. So there is a beautiful analogy between the plant and our Christ, the King and the Holy Cross.

http://www.goarch.or...olycross/learn/

P.S My family always brought basil for the icon or the Cross. So we do not only receive, but also bring (if we can) basil to church that day.

#11 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 05:28 AM

Of course.

The basil grew where the Holy Cross was found. Tradition tells that the aroma of the basil attracted Saint Helena and she ordered them to dig there.

And basil (βασιλικός) in Greek means kingly, royal. So there is a beautiful analogy between the plant and our Christ, the King and the Holy Cross.

http://www.goarch.or...olycross/learn/

P.S My family always brought basil for the icon or the Cross. So we do not only receive, but also bring (if we can) basil to church that day.


Thank you Nina for this information.

The aroma of Basil is one of the wonders of nature. I see many people lightly pass their hand over pots of basil that have been placed outside flower shops. A friend of my husband gave him some seeds of purple basil from Aghios Oros and he planted them last spring. The aroma of this purple basil is so wonderful that I have started collecting seeds for next year as I do not want to lose it, especially as it is from Aghios Oros.

My mother always used green basil in her sauces but I don't. I don't know why. I dry a plant every year, put it in very fine tulle, and hang it near my back door. This dried basil emits a very subtle aroma. I also dry the leaves for winter tea as it is also beneficial healthwise, as are nearly all of God's plants.

Basil as you mentioned means king and St. Basil is celebrated on the 1st of January on which day children here are given presents, instead of the 25th of December as is usual in other countries.

The catholics have something called Mary's garden, where flowers and plants connected with the Theotokos are planted. I am unaware of something similar in Orthodoxy. Basil, box and laurel leaves (we are given laurel (bay) leaves on palm Sunday because palms are not common in Greece) are part of our tradition but I don't know of other flowers or plants that are connected with our religion. We usually keep a couple of flowers from the epitaphion but these are now decorated professionally and the flowers themselves are varied.

Does anyone know of any other plants or flowers that we can grow in our gardens and that are connected to orthodoxy.

A friend of mine has a rose garden in her extended garden and she has erected a small shrine with 2 icons and a small oil lamp in the middle of it. Her house is a little higher on our hill than mine and her rose garden is a thing of wonder as the view from it is magnificent. I also have a rose garden in the centre panel of my front garden but it faces the road (which admittedly doesn't have that much traffic because the only place it leads to is the small church on the top of our hill) but it is too public, I feel, for a small shrine.

One of my favourite hymns - not orthodox - is "I walk in the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses". A beautiful hymn full of the wonder of God.

Effie

#12 Nina

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 06:15 PM

The aroma of Basil is one of the wonders of nature. I see many people lightly pass their hand over pots of basil that have been placed outside flower shops. A friend of my husband gave him some seeds of purple basil from Aghios Oros and he planted them last spring. The aroma of this purple basil is so wonderful that I have started collecting seeds for next year as I do not want to lose it, especially as it is from Aghios Oros.


Oh, I wish I had some of those seeds from Mount Athos! I have seen here purple basil and it is so nice.

My mother and grandmothers always grew pots and pots of basil. The pots for basil were huge: the same size as they had for big palms and other large decorative plants. They placed the basil in breezey areas of home and the slightest breeze would release and spread the wonderful aroma of basil. This always made me think of Saint Helena the mother of Saint Konstantine, and how the aroma of basil drew her to where the Holy Cross was buried... it is so moving just to think of it!

In my family they grew basil always. Even in winter. The priest, in January for the feast of Epiphany, knew whom to ask for basil: my mother. :) She always brought flowers to church and lots of basil. From church pictures that I have of her 99% are my mother while placing, or arranging in front of the icons flowers (that she had grown at home). She always brought flowers to Christ and Panagia. Now I have to stop otherwise I will burst into tears, since her first memorial day is approaching soon and these days last year were painful.

My mother always used green basil in her sauces but I don't. I don't know why. I dry a plant every year, put it in very fine tulle, and hang it near my back door. This dried basil emits a very subtle aroma. I also dry the leaves for winter tea as it is also beneficial healthwise, as are nearly all of God's plants.


The idea with the tulle is so great Effie!

We never used basil in cooking in my family. Although I use it now (rarely) in some dishes and as tea.

My paternal grandmother always placed a couple of basil leaves (the kind that has large leaves) under her clothes in the chest area and she smelled always like basil when we hugged her. :) My brother and I (like little naughty children we were) always kept asking our grandmother why she placed basil under her clothes. We never learned the reason, however it is a good connection since church and basil are so connected and who better than grandparents teach you about God? We joke with my brother today and say that maybe my grandmother was trying to give us through the sense of smell subliminal messages by association about God, Church and family. :)

Does anyone know of any other plants or flowers that we can grow in our gardens and that are connected to orthodoxy.


Basil, laurel, roses, palm, Cyprus tree, grape/vine, apples I guess everything... since God created everything for us.

#13 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 07:21 PM

In the Russian Orthodox tradition all kinds of fruit are blessed during the feast of the Transfiguration.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

#14 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 04:24 PM

How could I have forgotten the vine and the grape! Especially as I am crocheting a beautiful fine fillet lace border with this theme at the moment.

Also when the priest blesses anything, he always uses a bunch of either dried or fresh basil to dip into the water used for the blessing.

When a new building is built here, a priest always comes to bless the foundations of the building before they start pouring the concrete. Basil dipped in holy water is used for the blessing and then poured into the four corners of the building. Drinks and sweets and food are then served to guests and the builders. Have to admit not much is done the first day by the builders.............

#15 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 02:44 PM

Once when I visited Stavrovouni monastery in Cyprus, I was given a cutting from a basil plant which, according to tradition, sprouted from a piece of the Cross which St Helen gave to the monastery on its foundation on her instructions.

#16 Darinka Mamula

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 08:03 PM

Effie,

Here is a link to a newspaper story about the new garden at a Greek Orthodox church near me (Northern California):

http://www.sacbee.co...ory/383218.html

it is a lovely idea and I can't wait to visit.

#17 Amy

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Posted 27 September 2007 - 08:43 PM

Ah! I have so enjoyed reading this thread, for several reasons. 1) I am so touched by our service commemorating the Elevation of the Cross and 2) for the information about basil! Thank you ladies for sharing =-)

As one who has had an interest in aromatherapy for years, I thought I would also pass along this information about basil: (from Essential Energy: A Guide to aromatheraphy and essential oils by Nikki Goldstein)

Aromatherapists say basil helps promote higher states of awareness and open the heart and mind. Because of its hormonelike actions, basil is said to help reduce impotence and infertility. It has an extraordinary antispasmodic action that makes it useful in the treatment of muscular cramps, all respiratory tract infection, asthma, and bronchitis.

The oil possesses antiviral, anti-infectious and antibacterial properties. Basil loves to clean up ulcers, bites, weepy acne, and intestinal cramps, and works like a dream on wounds. The oil is uplifting and stimulating and helps chase away the blues.

Basil is cultivated in Comoros, Madagascar, Vietnam, West Australia, and India.



Regarding the Elevation of the Cross, our church does not use basil, but rather red carnations to create a bed of flowers to rest the cross upon. This service touches my heart -- I love the beauty of God's house! I wrote a little about our service on my blog: The Daily Weaving if you are interested.

Blessings,
amy

#18 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 06:42 AM

Ah! I have so enjoyed reading this thread, for several reasons. 1) I am so touched by our service commemorating the Elevation of the Cross and 2) for the information about basil! Thank you ladies for sharing =-)

As one who has had an interest in aromatherapy for years, I thought I would also pass along this information about basil: (from Essential Energy: A Guide to aromatheraphy and essential oils by Nikki Goldstein)

Aromatherapists say basil helps promote higher states of awareness and open the heart and mind. Because of its hormonelike actions, basil is said to help reduce impotence and infertility. It has an extraordinary antispasmodic action that makes it useful in the treatment of muscular cramps, all respiratory tract infection, asthma, and bronchitis.

The oil possesses antiviral, anti-infectious and antibacterial properties. Basil loves to clean up ulcers, bites, weepy acne, and intestinal cramps, and works like a dream on wounds. The oil is uplifting and stimulating and helps chase away the blues.

Basil is cultivated in Comoros, Madagascar, Vietnam, West Australia, and India.



Regarding the Elevation of the Cross, our church does not use basil, but rather red carnations to create a bed of flowers to rest the cross upon. This service touches my heart -- I love the beauty of God's house! I wrote a little about our service on my blog: The Daily Weaving if you are interested.

Blessings,
amy


Thank you Amy for the above information. Basil is also good as a daily tea for migraines. And even though I don't know whether it is cultivated in Greece commercially, I do know that a Greek garden is not complete without its basil, its mint, its carnations, and its chrysanthemums.

I believe in aromatherapy because I suffered from migraines for years and I knew for certain that various scents would cause a migraine - sometimes in a couple of minutes. Thank God that is all a thing of the past...............

It is only logical that certain other aromas would have a beneficial effect e.g. lavender and neroli calm me and allow me to work better.

God has created us in such a wonderful way and has provided all of nature's bounty for us. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. "the world" includes nature of course.

Orthodox monks on Mount Athos work close to the earth, why?

Effie

#19 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 07:11 AM

Effie,

Here is a link to a newspaper story about the new garden at a Greek Orthodox church near me (Northern California):

http://www.sacbee.co...ory/383218.html

it is a lovely idea and I can't wait to visit.


thank you so much for the link, Darinka. And I agree that it was a lovely idea to create this garden. Reading about something is OK but actually seeing what you are reading about is needed I think. We have very cold winters up here with lots of snow and many of the trees and plants mentioned in the bible need a hot climate I believe. I don't have a fig tree (which also grow wild here and the women gather the fruit before it ripens and make their delicious spoon sweets with it) but I do have a promegranate tree (that is not very fruitful, unfortunately).

Mother Gabriela spent some time in a monastery in Bethany. She had a favourite tree, a cypress if I'm not mistaken, and when she died, amongst the handful of possessions she owned (and they were truly only a handful) the nuns found a small sprig from this cypress tree.

Effie

#20 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 05:51 PM

The crucifixion is a comedy, not a tragedy (because of the final ending). Today, of course, we think of a comedy as something that makes us laugh. And we think of happiness as something that makes us feel better about our selves by satisfying some urge or passion. Like shopping, or sex, or getting a raise, or making a killing on the stock market, etc.etc.




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