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With the Third Sunday of Lent, the Veneration of the Cross (March 19), we reach and pass the half-way point of the season of Lent. [For a more complete description of the schedule for Great Lent and Holy Week at St. John's, click here.] The Cross is both the instrument of salvation upon which the Savior hung for the sins of the world, and it is the means of our personal salvation by which we are conformed to Christ who says: "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mk. 8:34). So the presence of the Cross in the Church encourages us to strive forward in the strength given us in the life-giving sacrifice of our Lord Himself.
St. Ilias the Presbyter writes, "Many come up unto the Cross of suffering, but few accept its nails" (Gnomic Anthology, IV.130; 12th c.). The Cross is the Cross precisely because you are fastened to it with nails, and there is no other way to experience the truth of the Cross except to suffer its pain personally as did Christ Jesus. Now past the half-way point of Lent we look even more attentively to Christ who suffered and triumphantly died to forgive our sins and lusts. We learn that the pain we feel overcoming our own sins and lusts - e.g., fasting, praying, giving alms, forgiving others, being patient without complaint, loving our enemies - is not in vain in Christ, but it is a necessary proof of our genuine love of God who gives us the Resurrection.
If you are interested in the Orthodox Faith, we welcome you to come and meet with us and pick up many interesting and informative pamplets that are available for you! If you should have any questions please feel free to call me at the Church at (330) 372-3895.
Thank you for visiting our website and we look forward to seeing you soon!