Archiepiscopal Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
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 as we venerate the Holy Cross of our Lord, and Orthodox Christians around the world raise the symbol of the sacred and precious wood, we proclaim the Cross to be an invincible shield, a divine scepter, and the boast of the faithful. We exalt it affirming that the Cross sanctifies to the ends of the world. We hail the life-giving Cross as the “unconquerable trophy of godliness, door to Paradise, and succor of the faithful.” Through the Cross our enemies are vanquished, freedom from corruption and mortality is established, and salvation is offered universally.
As the Cross is lifted up, we marvel at how an instrument meant for torture and shame leads us to abundant and eternal life. We contemplate how an object that inflicted suffering and death reveals the glory and power of God. We offer praise and thanksgiving, for instead of hate and inhumanity, the Cross has become love and freedom. Instead of suffering, we find healing and hope. The Cross leads us from death and life, and through the Cross we know that all things are possible to those who believe in Christ.
Today as we lift up the Holy Cross, we offer a witness to the world of the power of faith. We are reminded that Christ has called us to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him. (Luke 9:23) We reflect on the words of the Apostle Paul which offer guidance on the relationship of the Cross and faith: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) The Cross shows us the power of God that makes all things possible through faith.
As we venerate the Cross of Christ and affirm the victory and potential we have through it, we offer prayers and support for our beloved Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. In this place consecrated for worship, prayer, and learning, are many who have taken up their cross to follow Christ. It is a place that is integrally linked to our Orthodox faith, and it is faith in Christ that has led so many to come to Holy Cross to prepare for a life of service. It is a place of tremendous potential, where students see that all things are possible through faith. Through their commitment and calling, lives will be transformed, parishes will grow, needs will be met, and souls will be led to Christ and the abundant life He offers.
On this beautiful and inspiring Feast may we remember in prayer and support the vital mission of Holy Cross and our beloved students, faculty and staff. May we offer our thanks to God for the work of the trustees and for the commitment of the many benefactors who give for this sacred work of our Church in America. May we also be filled with amazement as we look upon the Cross and affirm what the power of God has accomplished for our salvation. May we go forth from our gathering as His people, the Cross before us, knowing that through our faith in Christ, great and marvelous things, things that seem impossible and unattainable, will be accomplished for His honor and glory!
With paternal love in Christ,
† D E M E T R I O S
Archbishop of America