Today we celebrate the feast of the Elevation of the Holy and Precious Cross of the Lord.  For some, it may seem odd to celebrate the instrument of suffering and pain on which our Lord died.  It may conjure up images of hardship, pain, injustice, and a God who lacks love and compassion.

But Christians see the cross as a symbol of victory and a weapon of peace.  We embrace the cross, we make the sign of the cross on ourselves and upon those we love as a reminder of our Lord’s love for us.  As the verse from matins for the feast reminds us, “For through the Cross, Joy has come into all the world.” 

For 2000 years, the Church has understood the cross as the way to our own crucifixion of the self -our own humility and surrender to the will and the self to God as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done.” The cross remains a living, dynamic source of strength and not a relic of history or a recollection of a past event commemorated with nostalgia.

The symbolism and rituals involving the Holy Cross move our hearts and minds toward God and invite us to experience His Grace through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  St. Seraphim of Sarov reminds us, “Acquire the Holy Spirit and a thousand around you will be save.  For us to engage in true activism, we all must heed Christ’s command to, “Deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow Me.”  This is how we engage in true Christian activism-taking up our cross in silence and in prayer diligently working out our salvation because this is the only way we can affect real change in our life and in the world.

St. Isaac of Syria reminds us of how important the Holy Cross is to all. “The path to God is a daily cross.  No one has ascended to heaven by the way of ease.  We know where the way of ease leads.”