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September 25, 2013 + On the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

by St. Gregory Palamas, The Saving Work of Christ: Sermons by Saint Gregory Palamas, edited by Christopher Veniamin, Mount Tabor Publishing

The Cross of Christ was mysteriously proclaimed in advance and foreshadowed from generations of old and no one was ever reconciled with God except by the power of the Cross. After our First Parents transgressed against God through the tree in paradise, sin came to life, but we died, submitting, even before physical death, to the death of the soul, its separation from God. After the transgression we lived in sin and according to the flesh. Sin "is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:7-8).

As the apostle says, "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Gal. 5:17). God, however, is Spirit, absolute Goodness and Virtue, and our own spirit is after His image and likeness, although sin has made it good for nothing. So how could anyone at all be spiritually renewed and reconciled with God, unless sin and life according to the flesh had been abolished? The Cross of Christ is this abolition of sin. One of our God-bearing Fathers was asked by an unbeliever if he really believed in Christ crucified. "Yes", he replied, "I believe in Him who crucified sin." God Himself has borne witness that there were many who were His friends before and after the law, when the Cross had not yet been revealed. David, the king and prophet, says, as if there were definitely friends of God in his day, "How precious also are thy friends unto me, O God!" (Ps. 139:17 Lxx). I shall now show you, if you listen attentively for the love of God, how it was that people were called friends of God before the Cross..."


Repose of the Venerable Sergius, Abbot and Wonderworker of Radonezh

Troparion, Tone 4

A zealot of good deeds and a true warrior of Christ warrior of Christ our God, you struggled greatly against the passions in this passing life; in songs and vigils and fasting you were an image and example to your disciples, thus the most Holy Spirit lived within you, and you were made beautiful by His working. Since you have great boldness before the Holy Trinity, remember the flock which you have wisely gathered, and do not forget to visit your children as you promised, venerable Sergius our father!

Kontakion, Tone 8

Bound by the love of Christ, O venerable one, and following Him with unwavering desire, you despised all carnal pleasures and you shone like the sun in your land. Therefore, Christ has enriched you with the gift of miracles. Remember us who venerate your most holy memory, and who call out to you: "Rejoice, Sergius, made wise by God!"