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Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

September 14, 2017
The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

Hail! Life-giving Cross, unconquerable trophy of godliness, door to Paradise…. (Hymn of Vespers)

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we venerate the precious and life-giving Cross of our Lord as it is lifted up in our midst.  We are gathered on this blessed feast to exalt before all of the world the Cross that became a means of peace, a trophy of godliness, and the door to salvation.  We offer praises to God for through the Cross, death and corruption have been destroyed and the power of grace has transformed our lives.

As we join with faithful down through the centuries in lifting high the emblem of our faith, we know many look upon the Holy Cross and ask questions.  How can an instrument of torture and death offer a way to true and eternal life?  How can this means of a shameful act be the means of divine power?  How can a weapon of fear instill hope, bring healing, and give us peace?

We answer these questions on this feast and through our worship and witness by offering honor and glory to Christ, Who was crucified on that very cross.  Through Christ’s sacrifice for our sake the precious Cross has become salvation for our souls.  By Jesus’ holiness the Cross has become radiant, guiding us to the truth of God’s grace and forgiveness.  In His willing offering so that we will not face corruption and death, the Cross offers hope revealing the fulfillment of the promises of God.  Today our hearts are filled with joy as we look upon the Holy Cross and celebrate the great mercy that has been revealed by Christ.

On this day we also offer our prayers and support for our beloved Holy Cross School of Theology and for the students, faculty and staff who serve each day under the sign of the Cross.  As this is the feast day for our Schole, it is also a day that reminds us of the power of the Cross in the lives of those who are preparing to serve Christ and His Church.  Men and women from throughout our Holy Archdiocese and from around the world have come to this sacred place of calling, prayer and learning, and they have dedicated their lives to the way of the Cross.  By making tremendous sacrifices, they have heeded the call of our Lord. They have directed their hearts and minds to Christ and the need and priority of the Gospel in our world.  Through the dedicated work of the faculty and staff of Holy Cross and the focus on spiritual growth and prayer, they are experiencing the Cross as holiness, as a source of strength, as healing and hope.  They are being equipped to answer the questions of those who look upon the Cross, and through worship, the Holy Sacraments, teaching, preaching, and service, they will lead them to Christ.

As we offer our prayers for our Holy Cross School of Theology and our seminarians, may we also give in support of them and the vital role our Schole has in the life of the Church.  As we lift high and exalt the precious and life-giving Cross of Christ, may we affirm our commitment to Holy Cross and its mission to serve our Lord, the Gospel, and His Church.  May we also join together on this day and every day in offering a witness to all of the hope, grace, and life that has come to us through the precious and life-giving Cross.

With paternal love in Christ,

†DEMETRIOS
Archbishop of America