Christ is Risen!
Thy Resurrection, O Christ, our Savior, the angels in heaven sing, enable us on earth to glorify Thee in purity of heart!
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The Exaltation of the Cross is celebrated twice during the ecclesiastical year. The first time, and one of the twelve great feasts, is September 14. The second celebration occurs in the spring, at the vigil service of the third Sunday of Great Lent. Immediately after the singing of the Great Doxology of Matins, the Cross of Christ is brought in solemn procession to the center of the church building. It remains enthroned there for the entire middle week of Lent for the veneration and contemplation of the faithful.
The cross was the instrument of capital punishment in the Roman Empire in the time of Jesus. Criminals were executed by being tied or nailed to the cross. According to the Law of the Old Testament, anyone who was crucified was considered as a sinner cursed by God: Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree. (Deuteronomy 21 :23) . . .
Priest Vladimir Sakovich
The first Sunday of the Great Fast is called the Sunday of Orthodoxy. On this day, in commemoration of the victory of Orthodoxy over heresies, the holy Church, as a loving Mother, invites her faithful children to venerate and honor in piety the holy icons of the Savior, the Mother of God and the Saints.
At the start of the eighth century in the Church there began a catastrophe that continued for more than a hundred years. A cruel persecution arose against the holy icons and those who venerated them. The holy vessels used in the celebration of divine services were trampled under foot, because the Saints were depicted on them. Everywhere holy icons were removed, taken from the temples and cast into rivers or burned. The defenders of the veneration of icons were subjected to all possible kinds of persecution, even capital punishment. At that time many bishops, priests and others were tortured for venerating the holy icons. They were shut up in prisons and tortured. Some had their noses or ears cut off. Others had their eyes put out or their hands severed. But the word of Christ, that the gates of Hell should not prevail against the holy Church, and that He would remain with it until the end of the age is immutable. In the year 842, after the last enemy of the veneration of icons finished his days in horrible torment, the emperor Theophilus and his wife the empress Theodora put an end to the persecution and unrest...