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Third Sunday of the Triumph of the Cross

The Third Sunday of the Triumph of the Cross

Basilica Hymn
The light of my eyes was not with me
Dizziness in my eyes seized me
And he honors me like an honorable burden
From the weight of the roof of my offenses, the eyes of my mind have darkened from clarity, and I have strayed from the path of your commandments, which perpetuates life. I have made my journey in the way of destruction, along the path of the many, who inherit darkness and unquenching fire. Return me in your compassion, O Christ our Savior, forgive, in your grace, my offenses and my sins, and have mercy on me!
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…
The Cross of Christ became a spring for us, from which all our benefits gush forth: in it are demons defeated, and in it Satan falls; the power of error is abolished, sin is uprooted, deviation passes away, the boast of death, which had conquered our nature, fades, we accept, in it [the Cross] a spiritual birth, we dwell in immortal life, inherit the kingdom of heaven in his love, and take the appointment of sons of his glory.  For Christ the King has taken the victory through his Cross, and made peace above and below. To him, with his Father and the Holy Spirit, do men and angels sing praise!

Night and Day

What do we mean when we associate “light” with faith and “darkness” with sin? Sin, for one thing, attaches us to itself; it is a kind of reverse-leech, enslaving us to the point where our feelings, bodies and minds are so attached to it that we cannot free ourselves by any effort of our own. This spiritual attachment to some one creature or pleasure can be described accurately as darkness, since in our eyes, eventually, the only thing that exists, the only thing visible to our souls, becomes our attachment, and everything else is forgotten, lost in darkness. For the universe to be obliterated in our minds and for only one object to fill our souls is to have the same spiritual darkness as Eve had at the moment of her temptation: “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise…” (Genesis 3:6). She saw the tree at that moment, and nothing else in the world.

This is the reality in which we first find ourselves as conscious human beings, and the farther we proceed in our sinfulness, the more we are enslaved to our attachments, the darker our minds and hearts become to the rest of the world around us, which God has provided:

From the weight of the roof of my offenses, the eyes of my mind have darkened from clarity…

Two Choices

The ancient pagan world and the modern world have one important thing in common: that is that neither believes in a true, objective “right” and “wrong.” Instead, varieties of actions are described as different “lifestyles,” and various objects of worship (things to which we willingly attach ourselves; idols) are described as “gods.” Not so for the people of God. The book of Deuteronomy says this beautifully in the person of Moses: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-27).

In the New Testament, this reality is spoken of in terms of different “paths.” There are not many, as in the modern or pagan world, but really only two: good and bad, light and darkness, God and satan. The latter path, to destruction, is unfortunately the easy one: “the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction.” (Matthew 7:13). The former path, or way, is nothing other than Christ himself, for he calls himself “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). But what do we do when we find ourselves off the path of Christ and on the wrong path?

…and I have strayed from the path of your commandments, which perpetuates life. I have made my journey in the way of destruction, along the path of the many, who inherit darkness and unquenching fire.

One Way to Salvation

Christ is not only the Way for us; he is also the Good Shepherd who comes after us even when we stray from his path. He is the one who takes us upon his shoulders and brings us back to himself in his grace:

Return me in your compassion, O Christ our Savior, forgive, in your grace, my offenses and my sins, and have mercy on me!