Come, ye, people, beholding the glorious miracle, to venerate the power of the cross because the heavenly tree caused death and this flourished with life, having the immaculate Lord crucified on it. Being endowed by Him with incorruptibility we exclaim Glory to Thee Who trampled death with the cross and delivered us from sin!
(Sticheron from the veneration of the Holy Cross)
Today the elevated Cross of our Lord shines victoriously. It was signed and sealed as if with powerful Christ’s signature, the declaration for freedom of mankind from death. The testimony of our victory and grace! Our armament, praise and glory! The celebration of the Honourable and Life-giving Cross is a great and deep mystery of the Church. The Cross is the greatest proof of the self-sacrificing love of God which transforms and brings peace, strength and joy to our hearts. From the abyss of the greatest darkness, it brings us to unsurpassed light, from death to eternal life, from corruption to eternity. Through the Cross we experience the power of love, learning from it to sacrifice our life for others. The Cross is the preaching and faith in the Resurrection and the life of the future Heavenly Kingdom. Nothing is more precious and more redemptive than the Cross itself.
That’s why its holiday has been celebrated in the Church from the very beginning with great festivity and the main core of its glorious celebration is the Holy City, the place where our Saviour and Son of God was elevated on it, for the sake of the salvation of those who would believe in Him. Thus, this great holiday of our Lord has always attracted rivers of faithful and clergy from all around the world to Jerusalem, so that they could venerate the Life-giving Cross which opened the gates of Heaven for us.
In this way, even we, the unworthy sinners, have been invited by this huge life-giving and joyous grace which emanates from the Holy Cross and honoured, just like St. Mary of Egypt to venerate it and celebrate its glorious holiday in the very place where its elevation happened – the Church of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection. Thousands of faithful from everywhere around the world gathered today in this holiest of places on Earth so that together with the bishops and clerics they could celebrate “the weapon of peace, unconquered victory”. The Divine Liturgy was headed by His Beatitude, the Jerusalem Patriarch Mr Theophilos, together with ten co-celebrating Bishops among which our beloved Elder, the Bishop of Antania, Mr Parthenius. For the first time, after so many centuries, a Bishop of our Church, the most Holy Ohrid Archbishopric, was honoured to carry upon his head the Honourable Cross, thus sending a quadruple blessing from the four sides of this sacristy for all of his children. Together with the holy Bishops, there were several dozens of archimandrites, hieromonks and priests, from the entire universe and one of them was the Bigorski Archimandrite Dositheus and the hieromonks Cyril and Anatholius. This was completed with the skilful knowledge of ecclesiastic order in the church by our fellow brother, the tireless sacristan Averkios.
The festivity began with archieratic and clerical Litany from the Jerusalem Patriarchate, headed by His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos, to the Holy Church of the Resurrection where the Liturgy was to be celebrated. After the Holy Eucharist, there was another festive Litany to the place where the Holy Empress Helen found the Honourable Cross and from there back to Golgotha, inside the Church. Our Elder and Bishop Parthenius was honoured by the Patriarch and the Bishops of the Jerusalem Patriarchate to carry the Life-giving Cross upon his head.
This all-festive ceremony of today was also participated by several faithful from our country, spiritual children of our holiest Ohrid Archbishopric.
After the glorious ceremony, the Bishops and the clergy were received at the banquet in the Throne Hall by His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos where they exchanged congratulation and joy on the occasion of the great holiday. Also, as a sign of the years-long friendship and in memory of this great event, the Metropolitan of Vostra, Mr Timothy, Exarch of the Jerusalem Patriarchate in Cyprus, presented our Elder with a precious archieratic engolpion.
Ye are my powerful protection, most Holy Cross of Christ! Sanctify me with your strength so that I could venerate you with faith and love celebrating.
(Sticheron of the holiday)