Elevation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

Elevation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross | Orthodox and Vegan
On September 14 in the Holy Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Elevation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, the day the Holy Cross was discovered by Empress Helen (mother of Constantine the Great) in 326 AD on Golgotha. “When the true Cross was identified, it was lifted on high for all the people to see, who then continually sang Kyrie eleison, a practice which is still enacted at current celebrations of this feast.” -OrthodoxWiki

On this day we also commemorate the recovery of the Cross from the Persians. After being stolen from Jerusalem in 614 AD, it was recovered by the Byzantine Empire in 627. On March 21, 630 AD, Emperor Heraclius together with Patriarch Zacharios entered Jerusalem with the Cross where it was solemnly transferred to the Temple of the Resurrection, and held up for veneration by the the Christian faithful.

The Elevation of the Cross, also known as the Exaltation of the Cross, is one of the 12 Great Feasts of the Church, and one of two feasts on which is kept a strict fast (the other is the Beheading of John the Baptist).

Apolytikion of the Holy Cross, First Mode
O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance
Granting to Thy people vict’ry over all their enemies
And by the pow’r of Thy Cross
Preserve Thy Kingdom.

Readings for the Feast


Epistle
1 Corinthians 1:18-24
Brethren, 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. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Gospel
John 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, 30-35
At that time, when the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God.”

When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid; he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.” When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called the Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King!” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. Then when Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Today is also the Name Day for those who bear the names Stavroula or Stavros (stavros meaning cross). Many years to all who are celebrating today, and blessed feast of the Elevation of the Precious Cross to all!

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

On June 29 in the Holy Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Glorious Apostles (that also means the Apostles’ Fast has ended – this year, thanks to a late Pascha, it only lasted two days!). A couple years ago when we were unable to have a Liturgy due to the priest being away at the Parish Life Conference, we celebrated the Typica and one of our deacons read to us an article by the Archpriest Steven Rogers from The Word Magazine, originally published in 1999. Below is my favorite part:

He will make us who we are supposed to be

Seen together, Saints Peter and Paul teach us a great lesson — that no matter who we are — no matter our backgrounds, our talents, our station in life — if we offer who we are completely to God, He will make us who we are supposed to be. If we offer ourselves completely to God — both our abilities and our limitations — He can and will use us to the glory of His kingdom. If we offer ourselves completely, whether we are a simple fisherman or a towering intellectual, the world will see God within us.

God created us who we are and He came into the world to make us all we can be. Peter continued to be Peter and Paul continued to be Paul, but it was Christ within them that made them into all that God desired them to be.

And so it is with us. If we offer ourselves to God with all our strengths and weaknesses, He will use us to the glory of his Kingdom. As we, the Church of Antioch, gather together to celebrate the feast of our beloved Apostles Peter and Paul, those “luminaries to those in darkness, two rays of the sun,” let us commit ourselves to give all that we are to God as they did, so that like them, we may radiate the love of God into a cold and unbelieving world.

Let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God.

Blessed Feast of Saints Peter and Paul!

Pentecost: Trinity Day

Pentecost - OrthodoxAndVegan.com

Learn About the Icon of Pentecost at Icon Reader

50 days after Pascha, the Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Pentecost – the day the Holy Spirit descended on the Disciples in the form of flaming tongues, and they began to preach in languages they did not know.

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”
Acts, Chapter 2:5-12

“The Orthodox Church sees Pentecost as the final fulfillment of the mission of Jesus Christ and the first beginning of the messianic age of the Kingdom of God, mystically present in his Church. It is traditionally called the beginning of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Besides celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, the feast also celebrates the full revelation of the divine Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Hymns of the Church, celebrate the sign of the final act of God’s self-disclosure to the world of His creation.

To Orthodox Christians, the feast of Pentecost is not just a celebration of an event in history. It is also a celebration their membership in the Church. They have lived Pentecost and received “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit” in the sacrament of chrismation.” -Orthodox Wiki

Here’s a simplified version of the Byzantine setting for the apolytikion for the Feast of Pentecost, chanted by members of the Antiochian Archdiocese’s Teen SOYO. It’s chanted in the eighth mode (Tone 8).

Blessed Feast to all!!

My Vegan Tradition for the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord

Vegan Tradition for the Feast of the Ascension - OrthodoxAndVegan.com

Learn More About the Icon of the Ascension

The Feast of the Ascension of our Lord is celebrated 40 days after Pascha. The feast commemorates the account of Christ ascending into heaven 40 days after His Resurrection.

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Acts 1-3 & 9-11

‘The Ascension of Christ shows the last stage in God’s plan for mankind: total union with Himself upon one’s departure from the world. According to V. Rev. George Florovsky, “in the Ascension resides the meaning and the fullness of Christ’s Resurrection….and with Christ, man’s nature ascends also.”‘ -Orthodoxwiki

Traditions on the Feast of the Ascension


I couldn’t find any special Orthodox traditions for this feast day, but while I was googling I found an odd one on a Catholic website. Apparently some people eat various kinds of birds “because Jesus “flew” to heaven.” It makes more sense to me that we would honor winged creatures in some way today, so I looked for animal sanctuaries that rescue farmed chickens or turkeys.


Even though the world record for longest chicken flight is only 13 seconds, I’ve decided this year I’m going to make an $18 donation to Animal Place Sanctuary, which the video above says will pay for one bag of feed for one day for the many chickens the sanctuary has rescued.

Donate to Animal Place Sanctuary

There are quite a few other farm sanctuaries in the United States. Check this list from Vegan.com to Find a Sanctuary in Your Area. You could also plan a visit or volunteer day and get to know the animals.

However you celebrate today, Blessed Feast!