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Faith of the Mountain

The Catholic Catechism
for the Maronite Church

Cedars in aShouf Lebanon

We Are God’s People

The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost from the Rabbula Gospels

A Hymn from the Maronite Liturgy

The wood of the Cross became for the Church the key to Eden, the Garden of Joys.
Oh, wonderful Redeemer of Creation, make it a sign of mercy!
We are saved from the power of the curse;
We are rescued from the punishment of the fire, the fire for the evil sinners.
We reach chambers of grace; we enter the Garden of Lights!
(From the Qolo, the Hymn of the Hoosoyo, for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Book of Offering)

The Maronite Patriarchal Cross as the Tree of Life

[This is a literal translation of the second verse of the Arabic version of the Qolo. The hymns from the Maronite Liturgy are not literally translated from one language to another, but are thematically matched and composed to flow in the language in which they will be sung using our ancient Syriac hymn tunes. For this reason, you will not find these English words in the Book of Offering, and the Arabic original has been included in this lesson.]

من رتبة القدّاس المارونية
لحن البخور لعيد الصليب

عُودُ الصَّليبْ صَارَ لِلْبِيعَهْ مِفْتَاحْ عَدْنٍ، جَنَّةِ الأَفْرَاح
يَا فَادِي الْكَوْنِ الْعَجِيبْ إِجْعَلْهُ آيَ الرَّحْمَه
نَنْجُ مَنْ هَوْلِ النَّقْمَهْ
نَخْلُصْ مِنْ تَعْذِيبِ النَّارْ نَارِ الْخَاطِينَ الأَشْرَارْ
نَبْلُغْ أَخْدَارَ النِّعْمَهْ نَخْدُلْ جَنَّةَ الأَنْوَارْ

A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.

This is the Epistle reading for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Brothers and Sisters:
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside.” Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.(1 Corinthians 1:18-25)
The Crucifixion of Christ from the Rabbula Gospels

The Crucifixion of Christ from the Rabbula Gospels.

Christ and the Cross

A modern Irish Crucifix

A modern Irish Crucifix

In the oldest Eastern Christian tradition, a Crucfix is never made with a separate cross and body for Christ, as is often done in the West. Christ is either painted onto the cross as an icon or only partically carved out of the same wood as the cross. Christ and the Cross are inseparable. This tradition represents that fact beautifully.

Icon of the Cross in the Golgotha Chapel of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

Icon of the Crucifixion from the Golgotha Chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem.

A Prayer from the Maronite Liturgy

This is the beginning of the Sedro, a prayer from the Prayer of Forgiveness or Hoosoyo, for Fridays in the Season of the Glorious Cross. We will study this part and use the last part as our closing prayer for this lesson.

O Christ our God, you give us life and all that is good. You fulfilled your plan of salvation for us by your crucifixion, death, and resurrection. We celebrate the exaltation of your victorious Cross, proclaiming:
Blessed are you, O Holy Cross, you are the Tree of life bearing glorious Mysteries, and you give salvation to the world!
Blessed are you, O Holy Cross, you are the sign of freedom and the banner of victory!
Blessed are you, O Holy Cross, for through you, glorious signs were accomplished, sacrifices with the blood of animals were abolished, and prophecies were fulfilled!

What do you think?

In the Epistle reading on the third page of this lesson, Saint Paul says “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” The cross was a humiliating form of punishment, but God transformed it into a sign of forgiveness, love, victory and freedom.

In the three proclamations we find in the Sedro above, how do you see God’s wisdom and strength demonstrated in the Cross of Christ?

Thinking about the hymn on the first page of the lesson, how is the Cross of Christ a sign of mercy rather than a sign of pain and punishment?

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Now, O Lord, we ask you, with the fragrance of this incense, and by your Holy Cross, to grant us peace. Exalt your Church and protect her children, strengthen the living and raise the faithful departed who have gone to you. May we find refuge in the glorious shadow of your Cross at your second coming, that we may enter your dwellings of life, and raise glory to you, O Christ the Word, crucified for us, and to your Father, and to your Holy Spirit, forever. Amen.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The reference below each statement links to the official English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Web site of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

  • The Cross has become a sign of God’s love and Jesus Christ’s victory over everything evil. What was a form of shame is now a kingly sign.
    CCC #543-570, especially #550, #555, and CCC #560; and CCC #440
  • The Church uses the Sign of the Cross as a sign of unity and blessing. The Sign of the Cross is itself a prayer.
    CCC #2157
  • By his suffering on the Cross for us, Jesus unites us together in the Church, and shows us how to show love to all people.
    CCC #763-766, especially #766; CCC #786; and CCC #1939-1942

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