The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
|Sunday, September 14th||
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing. But to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.
(St. Paul's First Letter
to the Corinthians 1:18)
Every September, the Armenian Orthodox Church celebrates the Exaltation of the Holy Cross -- one of the five major feasts of the Church Liturgical Year, and the most important of the four feasts of the Holy Cross. The scriptural passage above from St. Paul shows that even from the time of the Apostles, the Holy Cross was recognized as the symbol of salvation for all Christians.
The Exaltation, known as Khachverats in Armenian, is connected with several historical events, each of which involves the "raising up", "exalting" or glorification of the cross. One early tradition identifies St. James, the brother of the Lord -- one of Jesus' 12 Disciples and the first bishop of Jerusalem -- as the first to exalt a cross. Taking in hand a likeness (or perhaps an actual piece) of the original cross of the Crucifixion, St. James elevated it before the people, and venerated it as a symbol of "the power of God," praying: "We prostrate ourselves before your cross, O Christ." Those very words in Armenian -- Khachi ko, Krisdos, yergirbakanemk -- are still repeated in our church services today.
On this special day, the Church is prepared in festive decor, and a special cross is placed under the dome - the center of the world in the architectural symbolism of the church. The cross is decorated with sweet basil - and the sanctuary is filled with this herbal fragrance. One of the additional services offered on this day is the "Blessing of the Four Corners of the Earth" (Antasdan), also known as the "Blessing of the Fields". This Service bring the clergy and the faithful together as it is performed in the midst of the congregation, with a gospel reading and prayer at each side of the sanctuary, followed by the entire Church responding with a spirited "Amen; Alleluia; Alleluia; Alleluia!"
Blessing of Crosses
An age-old custom of blessing crosses on this feast is observed in Chelmsford. On this day the faithful are encouraged to bring their personal and/or household crosses (new and previously blessed) to the Church and place them on a special altar adorned with the Holy Cross and sweet basil. This altar will be located in the middle of the sanctuary under the dome, and the celebrant priest will bless all the crosses as part of the Antasdan service. This act of devotion among the faithful - the bringing of personal crosses as a sign of renewal in faith and dedication to Christ - is one means of taking both the message and the symbol of the life-saving cross out into the world and to their homes.
General Sunday Worship Services
Morning Services - 9:30AM
Divine Liturgy - 10AM
On Sunday, September 14th, following Liturgy, the Service of the
Blessing of the Four Corners of the Earth
will take place.
Requiems are not offered on this day.
Fellowship follows Services.
ALL ARE WELCOME
BRING YOUR CROSSES FROM HOME
In the midst of the Church, the faithful hang their
anticipating the special blessings of the Service of Antasdan.
:::::::::: This page has been prepared by Deacon James Magarian ::::::::::