The Discovery of the True Cross
Today, September 14th, we celebrate the discovery of the True Cross in 326. The importance of the Cross is obvious: we cross ourselves before, during and after prayers; we are signed with the Cross many times during all the sacraments; we bow before the Cross; we pray before icons that depict our Lord in His suffering on the Cross; we wear the crucifix, not as an ornament or as jewellery, as the reactionary school and work place "dress-codes" try to imply, but because the Cross is the sign of Christ's agonized sacrifice for our sakes, most importantly, it is the sign of His victory over death.
There are those who belittle the Cross. The Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, mock us by saying, if Christ had been executed by firing squad, would we hang a replica of a rifle around our necks? (I have personally experienced a Jehovah's Witness approaching me, smiling as he brandished a copy of watch Tower, suddenly noticing my crucifix, looking panic-stricken and fleeing with the hurried aversion to the Cross associated in films with Count Dracula!) If only they could be persuaded to read, absorb and understand St Athanasios' clear explanation in "On the Incarnation of the Word", of why Christ could only have undergone
crucifixion, no other death.
By being signed with the Cross, by crossing ourselves, by bowing before the Cross, by wearing the Cross, we are acknowledging the saving power of the Cross. To celebrate the finding of the True Cross is to celebrate the Relic of all relics. The Cross is not a logo, it is an ever-living reality whose power to protect, save and transform is expressed every day. Syriac Church Fathers recommended that the faithful should cross themselves before every undertaking because, after all, we are supoosed to take up our cross daily in walking that straight and narrow path towards God's Heavenly Kingdom.