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Holy CrossThe Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Lifegiving Holy Cross Orthros with Procession

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Traditionally, a procession for the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Lifegiving Holy Cross is held at the end of Orthros.

In the United States, some parishes have the procession for the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Lifegiving Holy Cross at the end of the Divine Liturgy.

Summary of the Procession with the Holy Cross and Presentation of the the Holy Cross for Veneration

At the end of Orthros or the Divine Liturgy, there is a procession. The priest carries the Holy Cross on a tray decorated with flowers and sprigs of basil. With the Holy Cross, the priest blesses the four directions. This shows Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ's dominion over the whole world. Also, the priest blesses the people.
The priest carries the Holy Cross to a place of veneration in the middle of the church.
The people bow and sing the same hymn as the people did when Emperor Heraclius carried the Holy Cross to Golgotha.
Then, all the people come forward to venerate the Holy Cross. The people venerate the Holy Cross by bowing in front of it and kissing it. During this veneration, the choir sings, "We bow in worship before your Cross, O Master, and we give praise to your Holy Resurrection.
Li saleebika ya Sayyidana nosjed, wa li quamatik almoqaddasal numajjid.
Ton Stavron sou proskinoomen, Dhespota, keh teen Agian sou Anastasin dhoxaxomen.."
After a person venerates the Holy Cross, the priest gives the person a peice of basil.

It is customary to bless fragrant basil leaves and distribute them to the people on this feast.

  • According to tradition, a sweet smelling herb was growing where the Holy Cross was found. So, the herb was named "king" in Greek (basil).
  • Because "basil" means "king" or "ruler" in Greek and Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe.

Text of of the Procession with the Holy Cross and Presentation of the the Holy Cross for Veneration from September Menaion published by the Eparchy of Newton (Our Lady of the Annunciation (Al Bisharah) in Roslindale, MA), Roslindale, Massachusetts, United States.

This Procession text is from September Menaion published by the Eparchy of Newton (Our Lady of the Annunciation (Al Bisharah) in Roslindale, MA), Roslindale, Massachusetts, United States. September Menaion is available from Sophia Press, Eparchy of Newton (Our Lady of the Annunciation (Al Bisharah) in Roslindale, Massachusetts, United States)
Sophia Press has a Printer Friendly Order Form.

Great Doxolgy

If the Procession is held at the end of Liturgy, as it is in many parishes, Orthros ends as normal.
If the Procession is held at the traditional point, we proceed as follows:

During the Doxology, the priest puts on all his vestments, and stands with incense before the Holy Table, on which lies the Holy Cross, upon a tray with branches of basil and flowers as well as lit candles. When the choir begins to sing "Holy God, " he incenses the Cross three times, with three strokes. Then, when the final, solemn "Holy God" is sung, he makes three metanies and takes up the Cross, carrying it at the level of his head. He is preceded by the deacon, who holds a candle in his left hand and the censer in his right. He proceeds around the Holy Table and out of the sanctuary through the north door. The procession is led by processional candles, ripidia, and the deacon with the candle and incense - then the priest with the Cross.

The procession goes three times around the church. The priest stops in front of the stand before the Royal Doors, facing east. When the final "Holy God" is ended, the priest chants: 'Wisdom, let us stand!" and places the Cross on the analogion prepared. He incenses it from the four sides, with the deacon holding the candle on the op- posite side. Meanwhile, the Troparion of the Feast is sung three times:

O Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance. Grant vict'ry to our country over its enemies, and pre- serve Your community by the power of Your Cross.

The priest makes three prostrations, whatever day of the week it may be, and, taking the Cross with the branches of basil, he faces toward the east, raises it up above his head, and says in a loud voice:

Have mercy on us, O God, in Your great mercy; we pray to You, hear us and have mercy.

The choir sings "Lord, have mercy" a hundred times. In many Melkite parishes, forty are sung, in groups of ten by alternate choirs, as in many of the Offices. The priest makes the sign of the Cross three times with the Holy Cross, then slowly bends to the ground with it, after which he slowly rises again, finally elevating the Cross above his head. As the choir comes to the end of the first set of "Lord, have mercy," he lowers the Cross to his chest, and again makes the sign of the Cross three times.

Then he stands on the right side of the analogion; and facing toward the north, he says:

Again we pray for our civil authorities, protected by God, that they enjoy peace, health and salvation, and that the Lord God strengthen them in every good deed.

And he elevates the Cross as before, as the choir sings the second set of "Lord, have mercy" (100 or 40)

He then stands on the east side of the table and, facing west, and says:

Again we pray for our most reverend Archbishop N., and for all our brethren in Christ.

The choir sings the third set of "Lord, have mercy," (100 or 40) as the priest elevates the Cross as above.

He then goes to the left side of the table, and turning toward the south, he says:

Again, we pray for all Orthodox Christians, and for their health, salvation and the remission of their sins.

The choir sings the fourth set of "Lord, have mercy," with the same ceremonies with the Cross as above.

Finally, the priest returns to the front of the analogion, and facing towards the east again, he says:

Again, we pray for all who serve or have served in this holy church, for their health, salvation, and the remission of their sins.

The choir sings the final set of "Lord, have mercy" (100 or 40) as the Cross is elevated for the fifth and final time.

Holding the Cross above his head, the priest slowly makes the sign of the Cross over the people while the following is sung:

O Christ our God who chose by your free volition to be elevated upon the Holy Cross, grant your mercies to your new people who are called by your name, in your power gladden the hearts of our Public Authorities, strengthen them in every good deed so that your true alliance may be for them a weapon of peace and a standard of victory.

Then the priest lays the Cross on the table, and while the following is sung three times, he makes two prostrations in front of the Cross, kisses it, and makes a third prostration.

We bow in worship before your Cross, O Master, and we give praise to your Holy Resurrection (Three times).

The Cross is then venerated by the other clergy in order of rank and byall the people. Each makes three prostrations: two before kissing it and one after venerating it. Each one receives from the priest a small branch of basil or one of the flowers.

During the veneration, the following is sung:

(Tone 2)
Come, O faithful, let us adore the life-giving Cross of Christ, the King of Glory , for when he extended His arms on it of His own free will, He restored us to the original bliss - we who had been stripped of His grace when the devil tempted us with the pleasures of life and led us away from God. Come, O faithful: let us adore the Cross through which we have been made worthy to crush the devil's head. Come, all you nations of the earth: let us sing hymns of praise to the Lord's Cross. O Salvation and Perfection of the fallen Adam, the great of this world are glorified in You and obtain from You their victories. We the People of God embrace You now with devotion. We glorify God who was nailed on You, and we cry out, "O lord, who were crucified on the Cross, have mercy on us, for You are gracious and the lover of Mankind!"

(Tone 5)
Come, O people, and look on this marvellous wonder; let us venerate the might of the Cross. For a tree put forth the fruit of death in Paradise - but life is the flower of this Tree on which the sinless lord was nailed. Reaping incorruption from it, all the nations cry aloud, "O You, who through the Cross have laid death low and set us free, glory to you!"

(Tone 5)
O God, the words of Your prophets Isaiah and David are fulfilled, saying "All the nations shall come and worship before You, O lord!" For behold, O Good One, the people filled with Your grace in Your courts at Jerusalem. O You who endured the Cross for us and have brought us life by Your Resurrection: guard us and save us!

(Tone)
Today is lifted up from the hidden places of the earth the Tree of life on which Christ was nailed, confirming our faith in the Resurrection. And exalted on high by priestly hands, it proclaims His Ascension into heaven, whereby our nature, lifted from its fallen state, is made a citizen of heaven. Therefore, let us cry out in thanksgiving: "O lord who were raised on the Cross, You have raised us up with Yourself! Count us worthy of the joy of heaven, for we praise You!"

(Tone 6)
The four ends of the earth, O Christ our God, are sanctified today by the Exaltation of Your Cross with its four arms; and with it, the horn of Your faithful people is exalted, who thereby dash to pieces the horns of their adversaries. Great are You, O Lord, and wonderful are Your works! Glory to You!

(Tone 6)
The sayings of the prophets foretold the holy Wood, whereby Adam was set free from the ancient curse of death. And today, at the Exaltation of the Cross, all crea- tion raises its voice, asking of God abundant mercy. O Master, who alone are boundless in compassion, be our atonement and save our souls! v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.

(Tone 8)
O God, the words of Your prophet Moses are fulfilled, saying, "You shall see your life hanging before your eyes!" Today the Cross is exalted and the world is set free from error. Today the Church is renewed in Christ's Resurrection, and the ends of the earth rejoice greatly; with cymbals, like David, they offer You their song, saying, "O God, You have brought about salvation in the midst of the earth through the Cross and Resurrection by which You have saved us, O You, who are good and the Lover of mankind. Glory to You, O all-powerful Lord!


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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center
Martha Liles
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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center is dedicated to my cousins: Bucky (Richard C. Liles) and Shirley (Shirley Jean Liles Buck). Bucky fell asleep in the Lord on Dec. 12, 2000 and Shirley fell asleep in the Lord on Nov. 8, 2001.
O God of all spirits and of all flesh, who have destroyed death, overcome the devil, and given life to the world: grant, O Lord, to the souls of your servants Bucky and Shirley, who has departed from this life, that it may rest in a place of light, in a place of happiness, in a place of peace, where there is no pain, no grief, no sighing. And since You are a gracious God and the Lover of Mankind, forgive him/her every sin he/she has committed by thought, or word, or deed, for there is not a man who lives and does not sin : You alone are without sin, your righteousness is everlasting, and your word is true. You are the Resurrection and the Life, and the repose of your departed servants Bucky and Shirley. O Christ our God, and we send up glory to You, together with your eternal Father and your all-holy, good and life-givng Spirit, now and always and for ages upon ages. Amen.

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