THE SUNDAY OF THE VENERATION OF THE CROSS.
On the third Sunday of Great Lent a service is performed in honor of the Cross of the Lord, which at the All-night Vigil, following the Great Doxology, is solemnly carried out to the center of the temple for veneration, due to which, not only this Sunday, but the entire week which follows is one “of the Veneration of the Cross.” The cross is carried out in the middle of the fast for the encouragement and strengthening of the spiritual vigor of those fasting, for the remembrance of the passions of the Lord, undertaken for the sake of our salvation, and of the subsequent glorious resurrection of the Lord from the dead; hence, in glorifying the Cross of the Lord, the Church sings: “Before the Cross we fall down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy resurrection we glorify.” The carrying out of the Cross takes place exactly as on the feast of the Exaltation; the exaltation itself, however, does not take place — only the adoration of the Cross with the singing of, “Before Thy Cross.” This adoration of the Cross is likewise repeated on Monday and Wednesday of the following week of the Veneration of the Cross at the First Hour, instead of the singing of, “My steps do Thou direct according to Thy words…,” and on Friday after the dismissal of all the Hours, when, following the kissing of the Cross, it is carried back into the altar. During the veneration of the Cross the stichera, “Come, O ye faithful, let us worship the Life-creating Wood…,” are always sung. The Cross of the Lord is glorified in the liturgical hymns throughout the course of the entire week.
From the Liturgikon of Archbishop Averky, or blessed memory.
Editors note: The canon which is chanted at Matins on this day should sound familiar to us as it uses the same melodies as the Canon of Pascha. This week is a bright-spot in the midst of Great Lent and the hymns of the Church lift our spirits to encourage us to struggle through the remainder of the fast.