September 14, 2022

Homily One for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross of the Lord (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"We venerate Your Cross, Lord!"

Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord; I will tell you, listeners, what this feast means and on what occasion it is established.

Once, the Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine the Great, going to battle against Maxentius, saw in the daytime in the air a cross made up of stars, and at the bottom of the cross were the words: “In this sign thou shalt conquer.” Encouraged by such a wonderful appearance, Constantine the Great boldly entered the battle and happily defeated his enemy. The mother of Constantine, the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Empress Helen, attributing this victory to Jesus Christ, from this incident took the intention to find the Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. And so she goes to Jerusalem, searches, visits, asks the inhabitants of Jerusalem about the Cross of the Lord, but no one knew anything about it. Finally, from some elderly Jew named Judas, she learns where the Cross of the Lord is: it was buried in the ground, under a pagan temple. Saint Helen immediately ordered the building to be demolished; and the building was demolished, they began to dig and found three crosses in the ground.

Which one was the Cross of Christ? Providence unexpectedly resolved this bewilderment. Past the place where the dug crosses were examined, a dead man was carried to burial. Patriarch Makarios ordered the bearers to stop, and the crosses were placed on the dead man. They put one cross on him - nothing, another - also nothing, they believe in the third - the dead man comes to life. Thus, at last, they learned which is the Cross of the Lord. Saint Helen, the clergy, the nobles, the people, the soldiers began to venerate the Cross of the Lord and kiss it. Due to the extreme crowding, everyone could not see it, but everyone wanted to, and therefore Patriarch Makarios, having ascended to an elevated place, lifted it up, erected it and thus showed it to all standing people. The people watched, prayed and fell to the ground. This is the exaltation of the Cross of the Lord,

Christian Listeners! We now look upon, pray before and kiss the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord; let us unceasingly have it before our eyes, let us always pray before it, let us kiss it more often. The Cross of Christ, seen in heaven by Constantine, gave victory, and dug out of the ground, resurrected the dead; we will look at it with the eyes of faith - and we will defeat our enemies, visible and invisible; let us kiss it with our hearts and lips, and we shall come to life from diseases of the soul and body. Let us, praying before it, expect everything from Him, and we shall receive everything.

Honorable Cross! Be the guardian of the soul and body, casting down demons in your own way, driving away enemies, abolishing passions, and grant me blessing, and life, and strength, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and honest, most pure prayers. Amen.