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After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY

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Sermon: On the Cross (Bishop Joseph)

ON THE CROSS

Saint Theophan the Recluse, the great instructor of our Russian people on faith
and piety, said that the Cross of Christ has three parts. The cross that each Christian
ought to bear in his life also has three parts. Interestingly, the actual wood of the Cross
was made up of wood from three different kinds of trees, a fact that was prophetically
foretold. In bearing the cross, all parts merge into one.

The first cross is the cross of fallen mankind, about which the Holy Apostle Paul
says: “For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil I would not, that I do” (Rom.
7:19). This is the consequence of the ancestral sin that is passed down through
generations.

The second cross is what we usually refer to as our daily cross. This is the sum
total of all our sorrows, all the problems and difficulties, of which our life is full. This is
exactly what is meant by ‘bearing one’s cross’. However, there is more to this. St.
Theophan says that as soon as a person who is surrounded on all sides by sorrows, illness,
and problems gives himself over to the will of God with his whole heart and soul,
acknowledging that the Lord does everything for the good and accepting as good
whatever is sent to him on this way of the cross, as soon as he says this in his heart, then
everything changes, as if he had waved a magic wand. Nothing around him has changed,
but everything is seen in a different light. What Elder Ambrose of Optina said is very
pertinent here: “What will be, will be, and what will be is what God gives, and God does
everything for the good”.

Then there is the third, or central part of the cross. With great humility St.
Theophan the Recluse says of this cross, “This cross is known only to a person who is
already spiritually advanced. He has already overcome all temptations and deals easily
with all problems. However, there are temptations of a higher order, those of pride, of
exalting oneself before others, thinking oneself to be better and higher than everyone
else. This is the most difficult cross and is known only to a person who has overcome it
with much a great deal of effort”.

St. Theophan teaches that a Christian must bear his cross. A person’s life begins
under the cross in the baptismal font, and then a cross is worn around his neck. When he
is buried, the cross that he took up goes with him, and a cross is placed over his grave
showing that the dust of a believing Christian lies there. Let us remember this, and bear
our cross which gives a person strength and saves him amidst all of life’s difficulties. Let
the Christian never forget the power of the Cross, and through it the Lord will always
keep him from every misfortune. Amen.


+Bishop Joseph

Спасо-Вознесенский Православный Храм
Holy Ascension Orthodox Church
РПЦЗ
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

3921 University Drive
Fairfax, Virginia  22030
(703) 591 – 9445 
http://www.holyascension.info/

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