Monday, March 28, 2022

Second Homily on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

In beginning my words to you, I made the sign of the Cross on myself. So do you, Christian listeners, do on various occasions. We are so accustomed to this custom from childhood that we rarely pay due attention to it. And therefore, let us now consider what it means that we make the sign of the Cross on ourselves, and why we do it.

From the time when Jesus Christ was crucified for us on the Cross, the Cross has become an integral part of Jesus Christ. Therefore, when we make the sign of the Cross on ourselves, we show and, as it were, say about ourselves: I am a Christian, I am Christ's, I believe in Christ, I hope and trust in Christ, I serve Christ, I follow, I adorn myself with Christ, I put on Christ. Thus, by the sign of the Cross, which we make on ourselves, anyone can know that we are Christians. The sign of the Cross is the external distinguishing mark of a Christian.

Why do we make the sign of the Cross on ourselves? We make the sign of the Cross on ourselves, firstly, so that God sees this sign on us. Yes, listeners, God sees when we make the sign of the Cross on ourselves. And some of you make the sign of the Cross somehow hastily, carelessly, without any attention? It is a sin to sign yourself like that; it is necessary to sign yourself with attention, with thought, with reverence; treat the Cross as a shrine, as Christ Himself. You say the power is not in the Cross? No, there is power in the Cross, and great power, when you sign yourself properly, with faith, with thought, with reverence.

The sign of the Cross is the sign by which God turns His merciful attention to us, for which He pours out His saving grace on us. The sign of the Cross is the seal with which God accepts a petition from us. By the sign of the Cross, God will know whose prayer to listen to and fulfill. To pray with the sign of the Cross means to ask in the name and on behalf of Jesus Christ. "I did not come of myself, Jesus Christ sent me to You, Lord, and that this is really so, here is His seal on me - the sign of the Cross."

If, according to your opinion, power is not in the Cross, then why do you sign yourself? Or do you not make the sign of the Cross on yourself at all? Then everyone will know that you are not a Christian; otherwise do as you must, without haste, with reverence, with attention, with thought.

So, we make the sign of the Cross in order to attract God's attention to ourselves, the grace of God. We also make the sign of the Cross so that the devil, our evil enemy, can see this. Yes, hlisteners, and let the evil one see when we make the sign of the Cross on ourselves, because he does not like this sign. As the evil one fears Jesus Christ, so he fears the sign of Christ - the Cross. The Cross is the surest weapon against the enemy, the strongest defense against him, the sharpest sword towards him. To protect oneself with the sign of the Cross means to protect oneself by the power of Christ from all the attacks of the evil one. It is not only the evil one who runs from the sign of the Cross; the sign of the Cross protects us from everything that is hostile, it protects us. Where the sign of the Cross is, there the Angel of Christ remains the protector, the guardian. The demon flees from the sign of the Cross, and the angel flies towards the sign of the Cross. Yes, the sign of the Cross is a sign by which the angels see who they are to protect, to guard; and evil spirits see from whom they need to flee, to retreat. Therefore, make the sign of the Cross with thought, with attention, like a kind of shield that protects you, like a kind of sword that strikes your enemy.

Finally, we make the sign of the Cross on ourselves in order to confess Jesus Christ crucified on the Cross before others. Yes, let people see who we profess, in whom we believe, in whom we hope, whom we love, whom we honor. And you are sometimes ashamed to make the sign of the Cross! Do you know what sin you are committing through this? Being ashamed to sign yourself, you are ashamed that you are a Christian; you are ashamed that you belong to Christ, that you believe in Christ, that you hope in Christ, that you honor Christ, that you love Christ! Be rather afraid to be ashamed in front of people to make the sign of the Cross; do not be ashamed to admit that you are Christ's, otherwise Jesus Christ will be ashamed to recognize you as His at the Last Judgment and refuse to accept you into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Therefore, this is why we sign ourselves: to show that we are Christians, and so that God would look upon us, the guardian angel would look upon us, the evil one would see who we belong to, and so that people would see that we are Christians.

I will conclude my word about the Cross with the words of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem. May we not be ashamed to confess the Crucified One, let us boldly depict with our hands the sign of the Cross on our foreheads and on everything: on the bread that we eat, on the cup from which we drink. Yes, we depict it at the entrances and at the exits, we do it when we go to bed and get up, when we are on the road and rest. It is a great protection given to the poor as a gift and to the weak without difficulty. For this is the grace of God: it is a sign for the faithful and a terror for evil spirits. Amen.
 
 
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