Twenty centuries ago the Cross was an instrument of dishonorable punishment and of frightful death. The Romans condemned violent convicts to the punishment of crucifixion.
Today the Cross is paramount in the whole life of pious Christians, and of the whole life of our Church, as an instrument of sacrifice, salvation, joy, sanctity and grace. As the Holy Chrysostom writes, "This cursed and abominable symbol of the worst punishment now has become desirable and beloved. One sees it everywhere." On the holy altar, in the ordination of priests, at the Divine Liturgy, in the homes, at the markets, in the deserts and on the roads; at sea, on the ships and the islands; on the beds and vestments, at the weddings, at banquets, on gold and silver utensils, on jewelry and on frescos. It is so desirable, this gift has become to all an inexpressible joy.
Truly, wherever one looks, whether inside or outside the Church one sees the sign of the Cross, as a visible symbol but also as a sacred gesture. The sign of the Cross dominates in the life of the Church.