Orthodox America

  The Path of the Christian The Cross of Christ

      The Saviour has defined the moral duty of man briefly in the two commandments of the law the commandment to love God with one's whole heart, soul, mind, and understanding; and the commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself. At the same time, the Saviour taught that the authentic fulfillment of these commandments is impossible without some degree of self-renunciation, self-sacrifice it demands [podvigl struggle...

      The whole history of the Church has been built on struggles: at first the sufferings of the martyrs in the earliest Christian age; then the self-sacrificing labors of the pillars of the Church, the hierarchs; and then the personal ascetic struggles, spiritual attainments in the battle with the flesh, on the part of the desert dwellers and other strugglers – “earthly angels and heavenly men,” the righteous ones who have lived in the world without being defiled by the world. And thus up to now Christianity is adorned with confessors and martyrs for faith in Christ…Such is the lot not only of each separate Christian but of the Church herself as a whole: to be persecuted for the Cross of Christ, as was shown in the visions to the holy Apostle John the Theologian in the Apocalypse. The Church in many periods of her history has endured totally open sorrows and persecutions and the martyr’s death of her best servants – what one contemporary priest and Church writer has called “harvest of God” – while in other periods, even in periods of outward prosperity, she has endured sorrows from inward enemies, from the unworthy manner of life of her members, and in particular of the people who are assigned to serve her.

     …The Cross is the path of the Christian and the Church. At the same time it is also the power of the Church. Looking with one’s mental eyes unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our Faith (Heb. 12:2), the Christian finds spiritual strength in the awareness that after the Lord’s death on the Cross there followed the Resurrection; that by the Cross the world has been conquered; that if we die with the Lord we shall reign with Him, and shall rejoice and triumph in the manifestation of His glory (I Peter 4:13).

    Thus, with the Cross is bound up the whole grandeur of our redemption, which reminds us of the necessity of personal struggle for the Christian. In the representation of the Cross, even in its name, is summed up the whole history of the Gospel, as also the history of martyrdom and the confession of Christianity in all ages.

     Reflecting deeply on the wealth of thoughts bound up with the Cross, the Church hymns the power of the Cross:  O invincible and incomprehensible and divine power of the precious and life-giving Cross, forsake not us sinners. 

(Excerpt from Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky; St. Herman Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 1984)