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November 4, 2015 + The Cross as a Means of Sanctification and Transformation of the World

by Protopresbyter Dumitru Staniloae

...The Cross is the cleansing force of the universe. And when we make the sign with faith and determination, for a pure life in the world, the power of the Spirit of Christ comes, of Him Who was pure in the world. And we avoid sin and await death. The Cross gives us this power of Christ because, bearing it in mind, we want to imitate its example and behave in the world without selfish passions, in a spirit of mature restraint, peace and concord with others.

"The Cross is a weapon against the devil," sings the Orthodox Church. It's a weapon against all those temptations and machinations of the devil, against the passions which cause altercations, against intractability. The Cross is a weapon against the devil insofar as it reinforces within us the spirit of sacrifice, of communion with God and each other.

Only the Cross, by taming our selfish passions and loosening our excessive attachment to the world, which is held to be the only reality, can bring lasting peace among people and nations.

The Holy Fathers have declared that the sight of God in the world, or the transparency of God in the world, depends on our purification from the passions. This idea was elaborated theoretically, in a particular manner, by Saint Maximus the Confessor. According to him, when we look at things and are free of the passions, we restore their true meaning, that is the transparency of God through them: "Meaning is affected by passion; complex thinking consists of passion and meaning. If we separate passion from meaning, what's left is sublime thinking." (400 Chapters on Love III, 43, PG, 90, 1029). This doesn't mean the destruction of the world, but rather the rediscovery of the truths of its meanings—which haven't been distorted by the passions—and of its divine transparency.

When we take up the Cross, we become, by the power of the Cross of Christ, a new creation (2 Cor. 5, 16-17) as Saint Paul says. In this condition we see everything [as being] from God (2 Cor. 5, 18), as he goes on to say. In this way we prepare creation to attain the state of liberation to which we, too, will attain: as children of God and not as slaves to the world and the passions any longer. Because the world doesn't rejoice either at the state of decline into which we, having fallen, have dragged it and become its slaves, instead of its masters. The state of freedom to which we'll attain corresponds to the state of glory in which we can make the world a partaker, too (Rom. 8, 31).

Creation is still in its birth pangs as regards this true and new condition of its existence. They're the pain of the Cross, which you bear without sin. The Cross is confirmed as the only means through which the world passes on to a new form of existence, where God becomes visible as He Who is all things to all people. He's the only way that we can come to the most splendid supper, where knowledge of the Divine Word abounds, where creation makes Him transparent in all His fullness and we enter into direct and pure dialogue with Him. So the whole world will be manifested in Him and in us, as the common content of the dialogue, as a luminous transparency through which He will become known to us in all the riches He has given us (Saint Maximus the Confessor, Ambigua, P.G. 91, 1373).

All of this will take place thanks to the Cross of Christ, if we accept it as our own. Only through the light and the power of the Cross, which will appear in the sky, the sign of the Son of Man at His glorious Coming (Matth. 24, 30), will the world prove to be, in the end, a new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21, 1).

Protopresbyter Dumitru Staniloae, selected from Στο φως του Σταυρού και της Αναστάσεως (Ιn the Light of the Cross and Resurrection), The Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, Kymi, pp. 27-35, accessed October 30th, 2015 http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/86460.htm.

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Venerable Joannicius the Great

Troparion, Tone 8

By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile, and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance. By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe! O our holy father Joannicius, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!

Kontakion, Tone 4

Today we celebrate together your honored memory, and we faithfully beseech you, O holy Joannicius, that we may find mercy with the Lord!