The Period of Elia-Cross

 

  icon-transfiguration Rev. Dr. Prof. John Moolan

The naming of this season is based on the appearance of Eia and Moses with Jesus at transfiguration (Mt 17:1-18). Sliba (Cross) here stands for Jesus, because the Cross will be the sign of His second coming Mt 24:30). Elia and Moses will be with Jesus in the process of last judgement. Elia will look after the fulfilment of the prophetic mission entrusted to the people, and Moses will take care of the obedience to the law. Then Jesus will pronounce His final verdict upon the humanity.

According to the rubrics given in Hudra (cycle),[1] this period must begin at least on the Sunday before the feast of the Cross on September 14, and the fourth Sunday of Elia is always the Sunday following this feast. The sixth and seventh Sundays of Qayta are celebrated together, when this period comes before the proper end of the period of Qayta (summer), and the first Sunday of Elia is celebrated before the feast of the Cross. Whatever be the case, the fourth Sunday of Elia must immediately follow the feast of the Cross.[2] When there is only one Sunday before the feast, the second and third of Elia are dropped. Thus though the idea is seven Sundays, there may be only five Sundays for the period of Elia-Cross. This principle is applied also for the following seasons of Moses and Dedication of the Church. Hence, the principle of seven weeks’ system of the period of Cross is applied by integrating it with the period of Moses and of Moses with that of the period of the Dedication of the Church as follows.

Seven weeks’ Application

Elia  1
Elia  2
Elia  3

Sept. 14: Exaltation of the Cross

Elia  4, Cross  1
Elia  5, Cross  2
Elia  6, Cross  3
Elia  7, Cross  4
            Cross  5, Moses  1
            Cross  6, Moses  2
            Cross  7, Moses  3
                            Moses  4, Dedication of the Church 1
                            Moses  5, Dedication of the Church 2
                            Moses  6, Dedication of the Church 3
                            Moses  7, Dedication of the Church 4

1. Return of Elia

The imminent return of Elia before the end of the world was very strong both in the Old and New Testaments. Prophet Malachy indicates the time and purpose of his coming: “Behold, I will send you Elia the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse” (Mal 4:5-6).

The idea of returning of Elia in Jewish tradition became strong from the fact that Elia is not dead, but has only taken up into heaven (2 Kings 2:11). Since he is not dead, he can return at any time he wants. It is unknown that where he has gone. There are different opinions that he is remaining in heaven or Mount Carmel or Paradise. Therefore the Jewish believed that he remains in eternity, being ready to intervene at the second coming of Christ. Accordingly, even today the Jews leave open their main home doors after the commemoration of the expected Messiah at the end of their Passover meal. So that Elia who is to announce the coming of Messiah, may enter their homes at any time.[3]

The reaction to this revelation was very alive in the New Testament. The peoples’ enquiry to the John the Baptist reveals their anxiety over the matter, “why are you baptising if you are neither the Christ, nor Elia, nor the prophet?” (Jn 1:25). Again the common understanding on Jesus is another proof for the imminent returning of Elia, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elia, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Mt 16:14). Jesus’ cry from the Cross was misinterpreted by the bystanders as if a call for the return of Elia to save Him, “Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani? That is my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?… But the others said, wait let us see whether Elia will come to save Him” (Mt 27:46-49).

The concept of Elia’s return seems to be denied by Jesus when He referred John the Baptist as the one who fulfilled the mission of Elia, “If you are willing to accept it, he is the Elia who is to come” (Mt 11:14). Baptist announced the coming of Jesus (Jn 1:29), prepared the way for Him (Jn 1:23), preached the baptism of repentance (Mt 3:2), and fought against the sons of perdition revealing his errors (Mt 3:7).[4]

2. Importance of Cross

            Due to persecutions, the Cross was a rare Christian symbol during the first two centuries.[5] Anyhow, early Christians used this symbol as a Christian seal upon them, at least as early as the second century.[6] The sign of cross upon forehead and chest was considered as a mark of power against demons. They made the sign of Cross upon forehead at every going in and out of home, before wearing clothes and shoes, before bath, before, during, and after meal, and in all the ordinary actions of daily life.[7] Accordingly the Christian Fathers of this period defended Christians against the charge of being worshipers of the cross, instructing them to swear by the power of the cross.[8] In the beginning, the empty Cross without the image of Christ was in use. The crucifix started to appear in the sixth century.[9]

a. Winning of the Cross

According to Eusebius the Church historian (d.339), Constantine the Great (306-337)[10] attained a great victory in the sign of Cross against his enemy Maxentius in the fourth century. Constantine’s own personal report about the event is recorded by Eusebius as follows.

Foreseeing the misfortune in the forthcoming war, the emperor decided to seek divine help from one among many gods. While he was praying at midday on the eve of the war, he and his army observed a brilliant Cross of light, as a heavenly symbol, imposed on the westward moving sun. On it in Greek characters was the saying, “you will win by this sign” (Τούτῳ Νίκα! –In hoc signo vinces).

He wondered over the vision without knowing its significance. That night, Christ appeared him in a dream and told to make a replica of the sign he had seen in the sky for the sure defence in the battle. Accordingly, a figure of Cross was formed by superimposing the first two letters Chi and Rho (XP) of Greek alphabets for Christ (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ –Christos) to a Christogram emblem ( ). He ordered to put the emblem on the shield of his soldiers and to carry it in front line of the war against the enemy. As a result, he got a remarkable victory at the battle of Milvian Bridge (312) outside Rome where Maxentius drowned in the Tiber River. In respect of this victory, he fixed the Christogram symbol as the official emblem of the Roman Empire, and as an honour and esteem given to the Cross he decided to provide the escort of fifty soldiers whenever this emblem was carried in public.[11] In the very next year, he declared freedom to the Church by the Edict of Milan in 313 and by another edict in 321 the Sunday was made a holiday.[12]

b. Finding of the Cross

The great victory of Constantine the emperor and the consequent freedom for the Church paved the way for the finding of the Cross by Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great (306-337), on September 13, a Saturday.[13] Hence she ordered to celebrate this feast on the same day.[14]

We have no any history as such for the finding of the Cross, but the three important legends[15] recognized by the Church speak about the finding of the Cross of Christ. The legends in themselves are not facts as history, but the general flow of events and the internal agreement in the content of these legends throw light on the reality of one and the same event. The three legends are known as Protonica Legent, Maccarius Legend and Kuriakos Legend.

(1) Protonica Legend

Protonica, the wife of Claudius (Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) the Roman emperor (41-54),[16] received faith influenced by the sermons of St. Peter in Rome. In order to find out the Cross of Christ, she visited Jerusalem accompanied by her three children, two sons and one daughter. There she met Jacob, the bishop of Jerusalem, and requested to show her the Cross, Calvary, and tomb of the Saviour.

The bishop expressed his helplessness in this regard, because the holy places were under the custody of Jews, and the Christians were prohibited to enter there. Protonica ordered the Jewish leaders to hand over the Cross, Calvary, and tomb to Jacob.

Thus they entered the tomb and found three crosses inside the tomb. How to distinguish the Cross of Christ from other crosses was the problem. Suddenly the only daughter of Protonica fell down and died without any reason. Knowing God’s hand at it, they invoked divine help and touched the dead body with the crosses one after another. The dead body became alive when Christ’s Cross touched the body. Protonica entrusted the Cross to Bishop Jacob for its safe custody.[17]

This legend was not widely known except in Syria and Armenia. Protonica as the wife of Claudius is unknown. Claudius had no wife by name Protonica. Therefore the name Protonica might have been a personification of Greek term proto nike, which means ” first winning” applied in the legend.[18] Anyhow, the miraculous finding out of three Crosses together, and the marvellous distinguishing of Christ’s Cross from among them give credit to this legend in comparison to the other two following legends.

(2) Maccarius Legend

During the Council of Nicaea (325), the emperor Constantine ordered Maccarius the bishop of Jerusalem to enquire about the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Cross. For this sake he sent his mother Helena to Jerusalem. Maccarius and Helena prayed together in fast and penance and received the vison that the temple of Venus is built on the top of the Sepulchre. At the command of Helena the temple was destroyed and three crosses were found inside the Sepulchre. Maccarius requested Helena to take those crosses to a seriously sick lady in that locality to be touched for distinguishing Christ’s Cross from among them. By the very shadow of the Cross of Christ the sick lady was miraculously cured. Helena took a portion of this Cross to her son Constantine, and the rest was entrusted with Maccarius for its safe custody.[19]

This legend is considered as widely known in western countries. Ambrose (d.397),[20] Rufinus (d.410),[21] Paulinus of Nola (d.431),[22] and Sozomen (6 c.) are the prominent witnesses to this legend.[23]

(3) Kuriakos Legend

In order to enquire about the Cross of Christ, emperor Constantine sent Helena, his mother, to Jerusalem accompanied by Eusebius the bishop of Rome. In Jerusalem, around three thousand Jews were gathered together at her request. She wanted to choose the Jews of wisdom and knowledge from among them. After the processes of three interviews, five hundred of them were selected. They all remained shocked when Helena announced her intention of finding the Cross of Christ.

Helena asked them to give details about the Cross, and warned them to be imprisoned if they failed. They all failed to answer Helena’s query on the matter. Then with fear and frustration they brought her Juda who had expressed his grand father’s foretelling on the enquiry of the Cross. Juda was threatened to death if not reveal the secret of the Cross of Christ. Juda clarified his helplessness in this regard, but the soldiers imprisoned him and denied him food and drink. After seven days of abstinence from food and drink, he became mad and cried out his readiness to show the Cross of Christ. At this confession, they took him out of prison to go to the hiding place of Cross, but he did not know where to go and what to do.

 While he was going on accompanied by soldiers, he prayed ardently in Greek for divine help to emanate fragrance from the place where the Cross is buried. Suddenly he felt a fragrant atmosphere and asked to dig the place to find out the Cross. There they dug out three crosses and were brought to Helena. It was around the eighth hour of the day (2 p.m.) when a burial procession of a youth came that way. Juda touched the crosses one after another on the dead body, which became alive at the touch of Christ’s Cross on it. Thus Christ’ Cross was distinguished from other two crosses. The nails for crucifixion also were miraculously found out from the same place. Constantine used them to make bridle for his horse. Juda received baptism, became later the bishop of Jerusalem, and received the name Kuriakos.[24]

Since Jacob of Sarug (451-512) preached about this legend, it might have been spread in Syria before the fifth century.[25] Since the bishop Eusebius of Rome in the legend died in between 308 and 310, this might be the Eusebius of Nikomedia who died in 341/342. There is no evidence for a bishop named as Kuriakos in Jerusalem. The Juda in the legend might not be a historical person, because the Syriac term for a Jew and Juda is the same one. Therefore it might be a Jew who could have helped to find out the Cross, and the Syriac term for Jew might have been misinterpreted as Juda.[26]

Obsevation

There is a common agreement between these legends in their content. Except for the Protonica legend, Helena is the one who found out the Cross. Constantine is the emperor who took initiative and made all arrangements for Helena, his mother, to find the Cross. In all the legends three crosses were found together and Christ’s Cross was miraculously identified from other crosses. Therefore the miraculous finding of the Cross is a proved fact. The vision of Constantine and the finnding out of the Cross by Helena are mentioned also in the prayer system of this season.[27]

3. The Feast of the Cross

The feast of the Cross has already been foretold by Jesus saying, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to myself” (Jn 12:32). The fourth century feast of the exaltation of the Cross started in Jerusalem with the feast of the dedication of two basilicas, the Martyrium (martyrdom) on Calvary and the Anastasis (resurrection) rotunda over the tomb of Christ, built by the emperor Constantine the Great.[28] The Assyrians celebrate it as the Finding of the Cross on September 13.[29]

a. Origin of the Feast

The finding and the feast of the Cross are related to the feast of the dedication of the abovementioned churches on Calvary and tomb. The consecration of those churches took place on 13 September 335, and it is supposed that the Cross was found out on the same day. On the next day (September 14) the Cross was raised on Golgotha (Calvary) and was shown to the people for their adoration. As a result, the pre-planned one-week celebrations in honour of the dedication of those great churches were naturally turned into the exaltation of the Cross.[30] Therefore we may conclude that the feasts of the finding of the Cross and the dedication of the churches of Martyrium and Anastasis in Jerusalem were celebrated together on September 13; and the feast of the exaltation of the Cross on September 14 lasted for one week.

According to the anonymous author, George of Arbel, the Cross, which was found out on September 13, 335 was shown to the people on September 14.[31] Andrew of Crete (d.740) says that the Cross was found out in order to be exalted.[32] Thus this day the September 14 became the beginning of the great feast of the Exaltation of the Cross in all the Oriental Churches, and the Latin Church accepted it in the seventh century.[33] Among the East Syrians, the proper parts of Ramsa on Fridays of this season after September 14 have extra hymnal strophe about cross to be recited until the end of the season.

b. The Naming of the Feast

The reason for the naming of the feast as the Exaltation is given in pars autumnalis of the old Latin breviary.[34] The Holy Cross was under Persian custody almost for 14 years. Then the Byzantine emperor Heraclius captured the Cross from them in 627/628 and solemnly fixed it on Calvary in 629. The emperor with royal dress took the Cross and tried to climb the mount Calvary, but he could not move forward. Then Zacharia, the bishop of Jerusalem, advised the king to avoid royal clothing, because they are against the humility and poverty of Jesus. Thus, when the emperor clothed in simple dress, he could easily climb the mount Calvary to fix the Cross on it. Many miracles like rising of the dead and curing of the sick took place during his climbing on to the Calvary. This manifested the glory of the Cross, and paved the way to name the feast as “the Exaltation of the Cross.” But the Persians did not find any joy or glory at this event, because they lost Christ’s Cross by this act of the emperor. Therefore even today they celebrate this feast on September 13 as the finding of the Cross.[35]

Among the Byzantines, there is a special ceremony for the exaltation of the Cross on September 14. On this day during Sapra (morning prayer) the Cross is taken from the altar and brought in procession to the centre of the church. There it is raised to the four parts of the world in order to signify its exaltation, and is fixed there for one week for the adoration of the people. In this week during the Eucharist, instead of Trisagion (thrice holy) hymn, they use a special hymn of veneration to the Cross praying, “Lord! We venerate your Cross and exalt your resurrection.”[36] For the Armenians, the one week celebration of the exaltation of the Cross begins on the Sunday before September 14, and continues to the weekend.[37]

4. Friday Commemorations

The two Friday commemorations of this season are the first Friday of Patriarchs and the last Friday of Elia, which call forth the courage and sincerity of patriarchs (Church leaders) and prophets for guiding the people to the port of salvation.

a. First Friday: Patriarchs

 Patriarchs, as the Fathers and heads of each particular Church, represent Old Testament patriarchs like Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, and other twelve tribal heads of the people of Israel who led the people in proper track as per the command of the Lord. Their trust in the Lord and the courage to execute the will of God made them dear to the Lord. Likewise, we too are expected to lead a true Christian life dear to the Lord in order to become worthy for the entry to the kingdom of the Lord at His second coming in the consummation of time.

b. Last Friday: Elia

Prophet Elia, who was taken up in fiery chariot to heaven (2 Kings 2:11), was with Jesus at His transfiguration on Mount Tabor together with Moses. Elia as one of the advocates at the last judgement is expected to argue for the fulfilment of the prophetic role of those who gather for the last verdict from Jesus the supreme Judge.  This period calls forth the courage and sincerity of prophets to be continued in Christian life. Just as they handed over God’s message without adulteration to the people, so we too should be courageous and sincere to execute the plan of God even at the risk of life. Thus following their paths, we are called to prepare ourselves to face the Lord worthily at His second coming to judge the world

5. Fasting

This is a period of fasting in imitation of the fast of Elia for forty days before reaching mount Horeb (1 King 19:8). According to the rubrics in Hudra (cycle), this fasting begins on the first Sunday of Elia which is named as, “The Sunday of the beginning of the fast of Elia,”[38] and ends on the seventh Friday of Elia, which instructs, “…Those who fast to end it today.”[39] This fasting is considered as the preparation for the universal judgement at the Second Coming of Jesus when Elia also will appear with Christ. Thus we will be able to face worthily His last judgement, because after death no penance can be done.[40] Among the Assyrians we see the fast of Elia for seven weeks and the fast of Moses from one to four weeks.

6. Liturgical Themes

            The liturgical themes found in the propers of this season elucidate the theological aspects of practical life with eschatological vision. The process of second coming and the power of the Cross are the main important themes of this season.

a. Second Coming

The process of Second Coming found in the prayers of this season warns us to be prepared to meet the Lord face to face at any time for the final verdict on us at the end of the world.

i. Appearance of Anti-Christ

Before His coming the Anti-Christ, the son of perdition, will appear and pretend himself as true Christ and will lead many astray. He will declare himself as the fulfilment of mysteries, signs, and wonders. By entering the Holy of Holies, he will destroy the altar and the Cross in the sanctuary. But finally Christ will appear and destroy him with the breath of His mouth.[41] St. Paul also has indicated the same happening at the end of time. He instructs that let no one deceive in any way at the day of the coming of the Lord. The man of lawlessness will reveal himself as the son of perdition who opposes true worship and will take his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself as true God (2 Thes 2:3-4).

Narsai   (399-502)   in his homily on Holy Thursday speaks about the works of the Anti-Christ as, the removal of the living holy mysteries from the sanctuary, demolition of the Holy Table in order to stop offering sacrifices and to stop the distribution of spiritual nourishment from it to those who drink from the fountain of life.”[42] According to Isodad of Merve (9 c.), the son of perdition will enter and occupy the sanctuary in order to stop the proclamation of the Word of God and the celebration of mysteries.[43] In order to overcome the evil one, the One from heaven is always ready to confer His graces upon those who approach Him.[44] Those who fix themselves upon the branches of His Cross and ask pardon for the cure of diseases shall not be cursed like the fruitless fig tree (Mt 21:18-20), but are supposed to be saved,[45] at His abrupt arrival as the flashing of lightning from the east to west.[46]

ii. The Process of appearance

A pictorial depiction of the coming of the Lord is special peculiarity of this season. On that terrible day the sign of Cross will appear in heaven. Gabriel the chief of angels will be carrying the Cross in solemnity.[47] The cross will make the earth quake, and all the dead will be raised and the living will be transformed.[48] The angels will gather all human beings for the last judgement.[49] The book of life of each one will be opened before all the gathered for the last verdict. All deeds will be made known, even the thoughts will be examined and made public. At that moment all will stand in trembling, because all have been conceived in iniquity and brought forth in sin (Ps 51:5). Then all will turn to the Lord for His mercy to forgive sins,[50] because He alone is the light in darkness and consolation in distress.[51]

b. Power of the Cross

The glorious victory and the power of the Cross are commemorated in this season. The success of the early Church contained not in the eloquence of the apostles, but in the power of the Cross. According to St. Paul the spreading of Gospel throughout the world was not the effect of the fluency of their preaching, but the power of God (1 Cor 1:17-18). The Cross destroys death, annihilates sin and gives salvation,[52] and it is the defeat of the devil, the rampart of the Church, the medicine of illness, and the honour of Christians. The power of Cross is compared with many Old Testament types like the piece of wood at Mara (Ex 15:22-25), the raised rode of Moses over Red-Sea (Ex 14:16f), the tree of life in Paradise (Gen 3:22) and the raised bronze serpent in desert (Num 21:8-9). As the piece of wood at Mara made the water sweet, so the Cross changed the bitterness of death into the sweetness of life. As the raised rode of Moses over the Red-Sea opened the way to the Promised Land, so the Cross showed the way to the heavenly paradise. As the tree of life in Paradise became the means of heavenly bliss, so the Cross paved the way to the eternal life. As the raised bronze serpent in wilderness saved the people from snakes’ bite, so the Cross gave refuge for sinners who put trust on it. Therefore Christ’ Cross helps to carry daily crosses joyfully and makes happy the community of its veneration.

7. Lectionary Theology

The lectionary system of this season from Sunday to Sunday Eucharist, unfolding the diachronic setting of scripture lessons and the synchronic setting of the mystery of the power of the Cross and the second coming commemorated in this liturgical propers, enable a dynamic encounter with gospel values to be practiced in daily life. The reincorporation into the Paschal events reminds the faithful of their commitments to lead a new life in Christ.

a. Diachronic System

Diachronism indicates the chronological, thematic, and linguistic agreement of scripture lessons showing the progress of scripture lessons on Sundays by establishing an agreement between the Old and the New Testament scripture lessons within the periods of the liturgical year. The seasonal Sunday lessons bring out a gradual unfolding of the chronological order of the Christ event in salvation history. In this respect, the theme of the first Sunday gets a further development on the second Sunday; the third Sunday proceeds from the second Sunday, and so on. For this purpose, the scripture lessons in the lectionary system are anamnetically and epicletically interpreted. The whole system follows a historically ordered sequence of gospel events to which the other lessons are oriented as follows.[53]

Sundays

Anamnetic Lessons

Epicletic Lessons

Type

Real

Prophetic  Admonitions

Apostolic Exhortations

1.Elia: Deut 6:20-7:6 Teach children the law Luke 18:35-19:10 Blind beggar and Zachaeus Isa 31:1-9 Protection to Jerusalem 2 Thess 1:1-10 Thanks, encouragement, prayer
2.Elia: Deut 7:7-11 God’s election of  Israel Mat 13:1-23 The sower, the parable of the kingdom Isa 30:15-26 God’s patience and mercy for Israel 2 Thess 2:15-3:18 Christian duties and prayers
3.Elia: Deut 7:12-26 God’s favor for Israel Mat 13:24-43 Parables of weeds,mustard seed,and leaven Isa 32:1-33:6 Just king and justice in society Phil 1:12-25 Living for   Christ
4.Elia, 1.Sliba (Cross): Deut 8:11-20 Warnings Matt 4:12-5:16 Galilean ministry and Beatitudes Isa 33:13-24 Vision of glorious future of Jerusalem Phil 1:27-2:11 Necessity of worthy Christian  life
5.Elia, 2.Sliba (Cross): Deut 9:1-8 Canaan Mat 17:14-26 Epileptic, passion prediction, temple tax Ia 25:1-8 Hymn of praise for God’s wonderful deeds Phil 3:1-14 Instruction to the true way of salvation
6.Elia,  3.Sliba  (Cross): Deut 9:13-22 Golden calf Mat 15:21-38 Canaanite woman, feeding of the 4000 Isa 26:1-19 The song of victory Phil 4:4-23 Good conduct and thanksgiving
7.Elia, 4.Sliba (Cross): Deut 10:12-22 Commands Mat 18:1-18 Teaching on humility and forgiveness Isa 33:1-14 Request for God’s help 1 Cor 14:1,3,12,20,21,26, 31-33 Gift of prophecy

(1) Anamnetic Lessons

                 The book of law propounds the necessity of complete trust in God’s promises, the substance of which is particularly conveyed through the annual recalling of God’s wonderful works surrounding Israel’s liberation from Egypt. The special election of Israel and God’s numerous favors upon the nation demanded an upright life. Obedience to the commandments of God was requisite for the establishment of God’s Kingdom among them.

                 The gospel events point to the realization of God’s Kingdom on earth by Jesus the Christ. Jesus’ own earthly presence was a proof for the realized Kingdom, and he also testified to this truth through the parables of the sower, weeds, mustard seed, and leaven. God invites all to his Kingdom without any discrimination: even a Canaanite woman, Zachaeus, an epileptic boy and a blind beggar are welcomed. Christians are called to circulate the news of God’s Kingdom on earth by living an upright life—which also is a preparation for meeting the Lord at the end of time.

(2) Epicletic Lessons

                   The prophet Isaiah predicts the blessedness of Israel in the future Jerusalem. For this purpose, the Lord gave Israel just kings and true commandments. God showed his great predilection towards them by granting protection in every way, which made apparent their great responsibility of remaining faithful to the divine promises.

                    The apostolic exhortations focus upon guidelines for the church as the redeemed and divinely-elected community. The Church as the mystical body and the bride of Christ has a great responsibility to remain faithful to Christ, her head and groom. For this purpose the apostle Paul instructs Christians on the importance of practical life and pastoral duties that perpetuate and increase God’s Kingdom on earth.

b. Synchronic Lessons

The mystery of the power of the cross that is the central theme of the liturgical propers of this season is accentuated by emphases on the victory of the cross, the second coming of Christ, the last judgment, and penance before the final revelation of Christ.[54] Christ’s second coming prefigured by His transfiguration on Mount Tabor (Mt 17:1-18) indicates the magnanimity of the event with heavenly glory, which is to be manifested at the eschaton when the angel Gabriel will hold the cross in solemnity. Elia-Sliba and the following seasons like, Moses and Dedication of the Church, deal with eschatological realities. An integrated system of counting of weeks is pursued in these seasons to maintain the principle of seven weeks of assignments for each season indicating the uncertainty of the day of the event.[55]

Conclusion

This period is integrated with the following period of Moses for the counting of weeks in order to keep up the seven-week principle for Elia and Cross in the seasonal setting of the liturgical year. Though the return of Elia before the end of the world is called forth in this season, Christ has indicated that the role of Elia has already been fulfilled by John the Baptist preparing the way for the Lord (Mt 11:14; Jn 1:23). The winning, finding, and feast of the Cross show the importance of the Holy Cross in Christian life. The fourth century dedications of basilicas on Calvary as Martirium and on Christ’s tomb as Anastasis by the emperor Constantine the Great in connection with the finding of the Cross on September 13 and its exaltation on September 14 paved the way for the great devotion of Holy Cross. The Cross is considered as the sign of the Son of man that will appear in heaven at the second coming of Christ. This period dealing with the eschatological realities, reminds of the preparedness needed to face the Lord worthily at His abrupt coming to judge the world. Those who seek the power of the Cross will be saved.


[1] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 256; J.Mateos, Lelya-Sapra , 274.

[2] Ordo celebrationis, 56.

[3] Flavious Joseph, Antiquities, 9, 2, 2;  W.Whiston, trans., The works of Flavius Josephus : Comprising the Antiquities of the Jews; A History of the Jewish Wars; and Life of Flavius Josephus (Philadelphia, 1996) 246; H.L.Strack, P.Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch: Exkurse zu einzelnen Stellen des Neuen Testaments, 4. 2 (München, 1956) 764-769; C.Payngot, Aradhanavalsaram, OIRSI 256 (Kottayam, 2001) 241.

[4] E.Henneck, W.Schneemelcher, R.M.Wilson,  New Testament Apocrypha II (Philadelphia, 1966) 669.

[5] A.E. McGrath, Christianity: An Introduction (Oxford, 2006) 321-323.

[6] Apost. Const. 3.17; Barnabas, Epistle 11-12; Justin, Apologia 1.55-60; Trypho, Dialogue 85-97.

[7] Tertullian, De Corona” 3; Cyprian, Testimonies 9.21–22; Lactantius, Divinæ Institutiones 4.27.

[8] Tertullian, Apologia 11, 16; Minucius Felix, Octavius 29.

[9] J.R.W.Stott, The Cross of Christ  (Owners Grove, 1986) 27.

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_I_(emperor), accessed on 30.7.2012.

[11] Vita Constantini 1.28-31, 2.8; PG 20, 946; P.Schaff, H,Wace, Buffalo eds., Church History, trans.,  McGiffert, A.Cushman, NPNF,  Series 2, vol. 1 (New York, 1890) 490-491, 502; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chi_Rho, accessed on 30.7. 2012.

[12] Codex Justinianus III, 12.2; F.J.Dölger, “Die Planetenwoche der griechisch-römischen Entwicklung,” Antike und Christentum 6 (1941) 202-238, here 229; cited in A.Adam, The Liturgical Year (New York, 1981) 44.

[13] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 295; T. Dahrmo, Hudra III, 450.

[14] T. Dahrmo, Hudra III, 703.

[15] C.E.Nestle, De sancta cruce: ein Beitrag zur christlichen Legendengeschichte (Berlin, 1889); E Nestle, “Die Kreuzauffindungslegende,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 4. 2 (1895) 319-345; J.Straubinger, Die Kreuzauffindungslegende: Untersuchungen über ihre altchristlichen Fassungen mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der syrischen Texte von Dr. J. Straubinger. Ger., Gr. & Lat. ( Paderborn, 1912); C.Payngot, Aradhanavalsaram, 261-267.

[17] C.E.Nestle, De sancta cruce, 7-11.

[18] L.J.Tixeront, Les origines de l’église d’Édesse et la légende d’Abgar: Étude critique, suivie de deux textes orientaux inédits (Paris, 1888) 187.

 

 

[19] J.Straubinger, Die Kreuzauffindungslegende, 8ff.

[20] PL 61, 1399-1401.

[21] Hist. Eccl. 10.788.

[22] PL 61, 328-329.

[23] Church History 2.1; cf. NPNF, series 2, vol., p. 258-259.

[24] C.E.Nestle, De sancta cruce, 11-21.

[25] J. S. Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementino-Vaticana I: De scriptoribus Syris orthodoxies (Hildesheim, 1975) 328; J.Starubinger, DieKreuzauffindungslegende, 75-76.

[26] Sozomen, Histoire ecclésiastique 2.1; PG 67, 931; P.Schaff, H,Wace, Buffalo eds., Church History, 258.

 

 

[27] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 295, 322.

[28] L.van Tongeren, Exaltation of the Cross: Towards the Origins of the Feast of the Cross and the Meaning of the Cross in Early Medieval Liturgy (Leuven, 2000).

[29] A.J.Maclean, The Catholicos of the East and His People (London, 1892) 335.

[30] Egeria, Itinerarium  48; PG 92, 714; L.van Tongeren, Exaltation of the Cross, 17-39.

[31] R Hugh Connolly, Anonymi auctoris Expositio officiorum ecclesiae, Georgio Arbelensi vulgo adscripta  (Paris, 1911-1915) 84f.

[32] PG 97, 1038-1039.

[33] Calendarium  Romanum  (Vatican: Congregation for Sacred Rites, 1969) 103.

[34] Breviarium romanum ex decreto sacrosancti concilii Tridentini restitutum  (Turin, 1898) 362-363.

[35] A. Baumstark, Festbrevier und Kirchenjahr der syrischen Jakobiten (Paderborn, 1910) 259.

[36] H.Jedin, K.Baus, Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte (Freiburg, 1963) 385.

[38] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 257.

[39] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 340.

[40] G.P.Badger, The Nestorians and their Rituals II (London, 1852) 188.

[41] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 258-259.

[42] A.Mingana, ed., Narsai doctoris Syri Homiliae et carmina  I (Syriac, Mosul, 1905) 317.

[43] M.D.Gipson.ed. & trans., The Commentaries of Isodad of Merv Bishop of Hadatha (c.850 A.D), vol. 2 (Syriac-Englis, Cambridge, 1911) 88.

[44] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 258.

[45] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 289.

[46] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 285; Mt 24:27; Mk 13:32-33; 1 Thes 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10.

[47] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 298.

[48]P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 336.

[49] Mt 25:31-46; Mk 13:24-28.

[50] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 338.

[51] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 269.

[52] P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 294-296, 300, 307, 332-333.

[53]Ordo celebrationis “Quddasa,” 55-57; Supplementum Mysteriorum, 139-149.

[54]Supplementum Mysteriorum, 139-49; and P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 256-344.

[55]See the rubrics in P.Bedjan, Breviarium III, 256.

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