Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Cross as a Moral Compass

Dear Parish Faithful & Friends in Christ,

Let us all wash our souls clean in the waters of the Fast, and, approaching the precious and honoured Cross of the Lord, let us venerate it with faith; let us draw from it divine enlightenment,
gathering the fruit of eternal salvation,
peace and great mercy.

(Vespers, Wednesday of the Fourth Week)

As we continue in the Fourth Week of Great Lent – the Week of the Cross - I believe that you will benefit from the interesting presentation of the Cross right below. Actually, Presvytera Deborah discovered this from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and initially shared it with me. The Cross as “Moral Compass” with its directionality points to the words of St. Paul who wrote of “the breadth and length and height and depth” of the love of Christ, understood by such Church Fathers as Sts. Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa to refer to the cosmic scope of the Cross.

Fr. Steven

The Cross as a “Moral Compass”

Because this Sunday is the Third Sunday of Great Lent and our focus will turn to the Cross, many classes will participate in the Procession of the Cross, make and decorate crosses to take home, and of course include lessons about the Cross of Christ and why this Sunday places the Cross as its central theme.

One way that I have often presented the Cross to people is to think of it as a compass. It’s a simple metaphor. The arms of the cross point toward the directions we should look as we make decisions for life.

First, a cross points upward, reminding us that we should look toward God for guidance about the decision and consider how the decision we will make might affect our relationship with God.

Second, a cross points side to side, reminding us that we should consider how our neighbors, the people around us may be affected by the decision we are about to make. We might also want to seek the guidance from family and close friends in our deliberation process.

Third, a cross points down, reminding us that the decision will have consequences for our own life, consequences that will affect us. By pointing down, we might also need to consider how the decision we are about to make might affect the world around us, from the environment to people we don’t even know. Admittedly, not every decision we make in life has global impact, but some can. Definitely adults responsible for large groups of people or organizations can have this level of impact, such as a political leader.

Finally, we associate the cross with the pain and suffering of the crucifixion. This can remind us that not all decisions are made easily and can be “painful.”

Many Orthodox Christians wear a cross around their necks. It is more than a decoration, but a reminder of our faith in Christ and our commitment to live as His disciple. That cross can also serve to guide us on a daily level.

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