The Exultation of the Glorious Cross
September Fourteen

By Roger J. AbiNader*

This feast marks the end of the Maronite liturgical year. The Exaltation of the Cross commemorates the finding of the relics of the Cross by St. Helen. Before 337 A.D., this event was attributed to the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine, who built basilicas at Calvary and the Holy Sepulcher. His mother, St. Helen, who built churches on the sites of the Nativity and of the Ascension, earned so great an admiration of our ancestors that, by the latter part of the century, they gave her credit for finding the Cross.

Christian Roman Emperor Constantine and his mother St. Helen with the Glorious Cross.
Chapel No. 28 at Göreme in Cappadocia.
Photo from les Eglises Rupestres de Cappadoce (Paris, 1925)

The Exultation of the Glorious Cross 

"On this day, Queen Helen took pride in establishing the feast of the exaltation of the cross. On this day, King Constantine, with all faithful kings, was shaken with joy and pride. ...this day, we celebrate the feast of the saving cross, which redeemed us through suffering." (Sedro)(1)
Two feasts celebrate the Cross in a major way: Great Friday of the Crucifixion and The Exultation of the Glorious Cross. The Great Sunday of Resurrection also incorporates the Cross in a significant way. (2) Because each feast celebrates some aspect of our salvation history, the Cross' function is central to each commemoration. 

The importance of Cross to the Holy Mysteries is clearly demonstrated by the many references to the Cross and its attributes throughout the other times of the liturgical year. To impart to the worshipers the appropriate spiritual attitude, the liturgy applies both teaching devices and petition in the Introductory Prayers, the Hoosoyo, and the Service of the Word. 

The mention of the Cross is less frequent in the anaphoras and Communion Rite. As will be shown below, the anaphoras do not often use the word "cross", the "altar-cross" of Great Friday, but rather refer to the saving event of sacrifice re-enacted on the altar-table and to the attributes and accomplishments of the Cross in establishing and securing the Holy Mysteries. 

Great Friday of the Crucifixion: Adoration of the Cross

"O cross, come and tell us what is your power. For nations worship you from the ends of the earth. You became an altar on Golgotha, and God's Son was crucified on you. Blood and water flowed from Him for the forgiveness of the world". (Qolo)(3)
The blood and water flowing from Jesus' side particular the institution of the Eucharist and underscore the symbiosis between the Cross and the Holy Mysteries. 


The Incarnation, according to St. Ephrem, is the central event of Syriac spirituality because God, the One who cannot be contained, became contained within the limitations of a human body. By His nature, God cannot be grasped by the human mind. (4) Yet, He chose to become limited, small and accessible so that He could be bound, scourged and killed. (5)

St. Ephrem the Syrian, Father of the Church.
Picture courtesy of St. Sharbel Foundation, Fr. J. Akiki (1992)

Sunday After the Birth of the Lord, Finding of the Lord In The Temple 
"Glory be to the hidden One who became visible by His birth.
Glory be to the living One who tasted death by His birth." (Qolo, str. 1)(6) 
This miraculous and paradoxical self-abasement flowed out of God's love for humankind. 
Great Friday of the Crucifixion: Anaphora of the Signing of the Chalice 
"O Christ our God, in your great and unspeakable love for all, you became our sacrifice on Golgotha. By offering yourself, you pardoned the sin of the world." (Sedro(7)
Divine condescension brought about permanent change in the relationship between us and our Creator-- affectionately referred to as Abba by Jesus.(8) The Cross, then, is the connecting device, the bridge, between the Incarnation and Resurrection. Therefore, the spiritual essence of the feast of the Exultation of the Glorious Cross is wholly and absolutely defined by the Resurrection, for by it Abba raised Jesus in glory, and, once and for all, removed the fear of death from the heart of the believer. (1 Cor. 15:17) 

Liturgy: A Call To Be Fully Present In The Trinity

Our church season presents a series of liturgical celebrations centered on Jesus and His saving deeds. The liturgy provides us with the time for focusing on the Gospel and on Salvation in light of our personal and communal life experiences. By incorporating familiar signs and symbols, liturgical ritual provides fuller meaning to our life experiences by pointing to the Life who transforms our burdens into experiences of grace-- "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:30) 

In totality the liturgy is a prophetic call to holiness and faithfulness. We are reminded, through the Word and in the Mysteries, of the saving deeds of our loving Lord. 

Maronite liturgical rites are simple and concrete. The use of common elements, e.g., the water and a cross, in a spiritual way, infuses them with the power to be icons to the Divine. The ritual use of applicable scriptural texts displays and illustrates: (a) the old figures and symbols which indicate from where we have come, and (b) the new signs and words which point the Way in which we are going.

Kitab al Ritab al Marouniat (The Maronite Book of Rituals), (Rome, 1838). 
Exhibit courtesy of Fr. Ghattas Khoury, Pastor of Our Lady of Lebanon Church, (Wheeling, WV)

Our prayers, hymns and canticles explain and teach about our relationship with the Trinity. The Hoosoyo, structured in couplets like the Beatitudes, and the Mazmooro, stand as parables, challenging us to both a new understanding and to a new urgency in the metanoia of our lives.(9) 

Liturgical Restoration and Reform

As we approach the third millennium, the Church has set out on a program of evangelization. The Pope John Paul II has called upon the Eastern Churches to serve a special role during the preparation period, 1997-1999. After weighing all the historical, ecclesiological, theological and social data available to him, the Pope laid out four specific reasons why the Eastern Churches must play a central role in the New Evangelism. 

To provide a fuller, richer, deeper Christian spirituality to a world in need of healing.

The Pope, convinced that Jesus is the Answer to what ails the world, understands the significance of Eastern spirituality which is embedded, imbued and born out of the spirituality of Jesus' time. In order to provide the world with a full appreciation of Jesus, the Church must put Eastern spirituality back into its catechesis and evangelization. (10)

To respond to the cries of "men and women today seeking meaning for their lives."

The Pope realizes the inadequacies of Western philosophy and its system of "isms". In fact, the Pope states that even Western Christianity has become ineffective in responding to the cries of humanity. Because of his close association with the Byzantine Church in Eastern Europe, the Pope is sensitive to our spirituality of praise and thanksgiving emanating from wonder and awe (as opposed to a philosophical system of thought).(11) 

To promote Christian unity.

The expulsion of our first parents from the Garden of Paradise is likened to the separation of the Churches. For hundreds of years, the Church of Rome has been advocating reunification with the Separated Church. Although progress has been made, the Pope believes that the Eastern Church is in an advantageous position because of its shared history and spirituality with the various separated churches. The Pope sees the Eastern Church as the prime ingredient for unification. 

To restore traditional liturgical practices.

Since Vatican II, the Eastern Church has been on a journey of liturgical restoration.(12) However, we cannot restore our liturgies until we are able to reform them. This demands that we re-learn our spiritual roots and ancestry, absorb them into our daily lives, and live them out in public. Only then will we be able to provide healing, respond to the cries, and prove to the separated churches that unity does not threaten their uniqueness.( 13) 

The purpose of this lengthy article is to seek out our spiritual anthropology and to see how it is reflected in the "reformed" liturgy used in the USA. From your reading and appreciation of Maronite spirituality, we hope that every time you open a liturgy book at the Holy Mysteries (Mass) or at home, you are filled with a sense of awe and wonder at the great love and compassion God has for us, and that this leads you to a (traditional Maronite) life of praise and thanksgiving. 


The Cross as Instrument of Death

The use of a cross as an instrument of torture and death came by way of Persia to the Canaanites. The Assyrians and the Persians hung the heads of captured foes and heinous criminals on the pointed sticks used to build and to fortify the walls of their towns. Later, enemies of the state were impaled on the stakes. 

Because of the horrific nature of impalement, the Greeks and Romans initially reserved crucifixion primarily for slaves, since it was too barbaric for citizens, as noted in Acts 16:22ff and 22:25ff. In these passages, Peter, a non-Roman, is crucified (upside-down) while Paul is beheaded, supposedly a quicker and, therefore, a more merciful way to die.(14) 

Our ancestors had reason to fear crucifixion for in an attempt to destroy the Phoenician civilization, Alexander the Great crucified 1,000 men and boys all the way from Tyre to Damascus.(15) For the Jews, crucifixion was such a feared and loathsome way to die that the dead had to be removed before sundown so as to avoid defilement of the land. 

When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not defile the land that the LORD your God is giving you for possession. (Duet. 21:22-23) 

Antiochus Epiphanes and Alexander Jameus, Greek kings of Syria, used crucifixion mercilessly against those Jews who resisted Hellenization. Antiochus Epiphanes caused great defilement against the holy things of the Jews. His response to the rebellion that followed was the crucifixion of over 800 hundred Pharisees and their families. From 167-142 B.C. the Maccabeans waged a successful revolt to recapture Israel and to re-dedicate the Temple. 

What is not mentioned in the Infancy Narratives of the New Testament is the unpopularity of the Roman census ordered at the time of Jesus' birth. From ancient times, the Jews loathed the taking of a census for it implied ownership by another human. Jewish self-esteem rested on their conviction that they were a people belonging only to God. After taking a census, King David repented: 

"But afterward, David was stricken to the heart because he had numbered the people. David said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, I pray you, take away the guilt of your servant; for I have done very foolishly." (2 Sam. 24:10)
When Augustus ordered a census in 6 A.D., the Jews were not silently compliant as suggested of Joseph and Mary. Many Jews were rebuffed and offended by an act which suggested enslavement by no less than a pagan foreigner who thought himself divine. Varus, the Roman governor of Syria, put down a rebellion by Judas of Galilee with the crucifixion of 2,000. 

There is a paradox here which has an interesting yet unexplored parallel: Jesus, the One who came to save us, entered this world at the time when thousands were crucified, and exited this world by His own crucifixion. 

Crucifixion, First Century 

The Romans perfected crucifixion so as to produce a slow and extremely painful death. In Latin crux and Greek stauros, the cross was either "T" shaped, crux commissa, or daggar-shapped, crux immissa orcrux capitata. Jesus was most likely hung on the capitata since a title "King of the Jews", in four languages, was posted by Pilot above His head. (Matt. 27:37) 

First, the condemned was stripped, bound to a post and given thirty-nine or more lashes with a short whip, the flagrum. The flagrum had thongs holding tiny lead balls and sharp bits of sheep bone. Two soldiers flogged the condemned at least enough to cause bleeding. The flogging became more serious if the state wished to hasten death. If, however, a long, painful death was desired, the scourging was lessened. 

To signify the certainty of death and to extend the humiliation, the condemned was made to carry the patibulum, a crossbeam up to six foot in length, weighing about 125 pounds. Jesus' scourging was so severe that the soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to carry the patibulum part of the third of a mile distance to Golgotha, the "place of the skull"(Matt. 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26.) Golgotha, a hill outside the city walls, provided Jesus a panoramic view of His beloved Jerusalem.(16) 

The arms of the condemned were stretched over the patibulum. If a quick death was required, the hands would be nailed; otherwise, they would be tied. If long iron nails were used, the entry would be in the wrist bones in order to pierce the median nerve and cause extreme pain. 

Soldiers would lift the cross and let it down over the stipes, a permanent, upright post. In order to support the body, the feet may have been tied and/or nailed to the stipes or to a foot rest called the suppedaneum. The titulus, a sign hanging above the victim, proclaimed the name and crime. In this case: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. (Jn. 19:3) It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified Jesus. (Mk. 15:25) 

Scourging and crucifixion caused such nerve damage that the pain must have been unbearable. Muscle cramps, thirst, relentless heat, insects boring into festering wounds, and birds ripping at eyes, ears and nose were all part of this cruel rigor. Since the condemned was only one or two feet off the ground, the Jews mercifully administered a narcotic to relieve the pain. In Matthew 27:48, it was sour wine; in John 19:29, wine and hyssop (17); and, in Mark 15:36, the addition of myrrh. Using myrrh, as a sedative, underscores the compassion of the Jews toward the suffering. 

Crucifixion killed by respiratory failure, the inability to clear the lungs and bring in fresh air. Death usually took from two to three days. In order to hasten death, the soldiers would break the legs. The weakened body, with no support, would soon asphyxiate. Because the Sabbath was approaching, the Jewish leaders requested quick death for and removal of the bodies of the crucified. (Jn. 19:31) 

Although crucified by His enemies, Jesus was in full control. 

"Although crucified by His enemies, Jesus was in full control."
Photo from the The Rabbula Gospels: Facsimile Edition of the Miniatures of the Syriac Manuscript 
PLUT. I, 56 in the Medicaean-Laurentian Library.
Edited and Commented by C. Cecchelli, G. Furlani, and M. Salmi, (Olten and Lausanne, 1959); 
and Stephanus Evodius Assemanus,
Bibliothecae Mediceae Laurentianae et Palatinae Codicum mms Orientalium Catalogus..., (Florence, 1742).

Great Friday of the Crucifixion: Adoration of the Cross 
On the cross, our Lord took possession of the ends of the earth. From the center of the earth, He revealed salvation to the children of Adam. At His call, tombs and rocks were split open, and the dead arose. (Qolo, str. 1)(18) 
He not only offered himself freely to die, He also decided the timing of His death: "When Jesus had received the wine, He said, 'It is finished.' Then He bowed His head and gave up His spirit". (Jn. 19:30) This quick and sudden death surprised the soldiers who were about to break His legs. Instead, one pierced Him with a lance. (Jn. 19:32f) 


In this section we will review some examples of how the Syriac Fathers applied the Cross in Syriac spiritual literature. 

Strength for Daily Living

The rigors of daily life demand that we adopt an attitude of trust and hope. The ascetic life of the traditional Maronite begins with the sign of the Cross to help us recall the radical identification of the Creator with creation in the Incarnation (signing the body), by the Crucifixion (signing with the Cross), and through the Resurrection/Ascension (uplifted hands and heart in prayer and in work). 

" and on going to bed, at table, and when you are leaving home, make the sign of the cross on your forehead and give mental thanks to God; then, clothed in this armor, you can walk out in the street with firm trust in God and with thankfulness of heart."(19)
In the liturgy, the priest blesses the people with the hand cross and bids us to "sign yourselves with the cross of light".(20) At the dismissal we hear: "Bless your people; shield your flock with your cross."(21)

Preparation for Prayer

In Brock's translation of various commentaries on prayer and the spiritual life, our spiritual fathers recommend making the sign of the Cross by signing the body with one cross or the signing of each limb.(22) 

When you stand up, sign yourself with the sign of the Cross.(23)
Joseph the Visionary
Lord, I shall openly sign all my limbs with the sign of your Cross...
mark me in a hidden way with the truth of your Cross.(24)
Wonder and Awe

Maronite spirituality is characterized by a sense of wonder and awe at the profound mysteries of the Creator's condescension to repay the price of Adam's sin. St. Ephrem expresses constant wonder in his meditations "on creation and the Scriptures, both brought alive and made new by the ever-present Spirit "(25)

In one of his prayers, Joseph the Visionary thanks, praises and petitions God for a sense of appreciation for Jesus' life-saving Cross.(26) The grace, received by Joseph, inflames him to greater love and repentance. (In the following, note the contemplative tone in the use of the term "hidden".)(27)

"Lord, You did not give to the spiritual beings [angels](28) what I am receiving now; stir up within me at this time, Lord, the sense of wonder at Your Cross; fill me with a fervour of faith at this moment, so that my thoughts may be inflamed with the fire of Your love; and may my eyes become for You rivulets of water to wash all my limbs; may Your hidden love be infused into my thoughts so that my hidden thoughts may flow for You with tears and groans."(29)
Ephrem employs biblical symbols and types, both horizontally, between the Old and New Testaments, and vertically, between heaven and earth. His meditations use "typological exegesis" to describe a mystery essentially beyond human understanding. This is necessitated because the Bible is replete with hidden mysteries not yet revealed. 
"The Old Testament symbols only become fully meaningful in the light of the Incarnation, yet, because Christ is both God and Man, there still remains an element of 'hiddenness', since His divine nature is not capable of comprehension by the human mind this 'hiddenness' will only be fully 'revealed ' in the heavenly world."(30)
The Cross is the bridge connecting these planes. 


The differences between the natures of God and of humankind exhibit themselves, not only in the realms of time and space, but also in terms of understanding. We believe that any knowledge we have about God ensues from the fact that (1) we are made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore, have an insatiable appetite for discovering our divine roots (Rom. 2:15); and, (2) any "statement about God would be impossible had not God Himself taken the initiative and bridged this chasm". (31) God manifests Himself in numerous ways and through different means, each intended to reveal some truth and to lead us to salvation. 

God's supreme act of revelation is His Incarnation, which is connected to salvation through the Cross. The Cross, then, is one way in which God "bridges" this gap of understanding, for Jesus' sacrifice on Calvary gives the Incarnation an eternal value. In the finality of things, the Cross serves as the bridge for the faithful to heaven. 

Saturday: Memorial of the Faithful Departed
"May Your cross be a bridge for the departed who wear the robe of Your baptism to cross into the refuge of life." (Mazmooro, str. 2) (32)
The Exultation of the Glorious Cross
"By it [the Cross] we cross the place of punishment; by it we enter the abode of light, the paradise of joy." (Qolo, str. 2) (33)
In the Communion Hymn, we reflect on the relationship between Cross and Eucharist, so dear to St. Ephrem's heart. "May Your body and blood, that we have partaken, be for us the way, the bridge, and the safe passage from darkness to light." (34) 

Humility and Obedience: Take Up Your Cross

Constancy in prayer at times is very difficult. It becomes that cross which Jesus admonished us to take up in order to follow Him. (Mk. 8:34) Another anonymous writer suggests that "Constancy in prayer is the fulfillment of all the commandments." (35)

John of Apamea, the Solitary, writing in the first half of the fifth century, declares that spiritual progress takes place as a result of this self-emptying, i.e., rejecting "the body's ease" so that life belongs to God alone. John makes a series of parallelisms underscoring the glory of the Cross. Because of Jesus' example of perfect self-emptying into the human body and on the Cross, we cannot help but love God with our total beings, and "abound in the praise of the glory which belongs to it [the Cross]." (36)

John the Elder, early eighth century, states that the cross of self-emptying is the fulfillment of Jesus' commandments in "the forgetting and obliteration of all desire for the world, and a yearning desire to depart from it in the flame of love." (37)

Joseph Hazzaya also links the Cross to the fulfillment of the commandments. He focuses on the fruits of the contemplative life, by which we enter into the presence of God, and are so absorbed and awed by His majesty, that laws and fears no longer have relevance. (38) Joseph says that few attain this state of intimacy with God: " this is the person who takes up his cross on his shoulder and travels in the steps of our Lord." (39) Joseph unequivocally states that a person cannot reach this stage without a single-minded dedication of self to keeping the commandments. (40)

In a series of paradoxes regarding God's condescension, St. Ephrem examines Jesus' humility in His sufferings in contrast to the power we try to exercise over our Creator: Jesus turned the nails into "medicines" for our pain. When we pierced Him with the lance, His blood and water blotted out our sins and washed our hands clean. Even though we bound Him, He set free both those "bound" in Sheol and those "bound" by sin. As a result of this great act of love, "the crucifiers were saved by the Crucified." The end result of His "death is full of life." (41)

Primus De Crucifixione (First Hymn on the Crucifixion).
Exhibit from Sancti Ephraem Seri Hymne et Sermons (St. Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns and Sermons)
by Thomas Josephus Lamy, Tomus I (ca. 1882) 

Great Friday of the Crucifixion: Anaphora of the Signing of the Chalice 
"Our Lord's side was pierced on the cross. Blood and water flowed from it to pardon creation. The faithful Church approaches with open hands to receive the blood and living water"(42)
We recall Jesus' boundless obedience, as we pray "good and merciful Lord: willing to become flesh and taste death, He descended to the abyss and saved us from death itself." (43)

During Great Lent, we try to embrace Jesus' sufferings as an example and His humility as a model for us. (44)

Sunday: Memorial of the Resurrection of the Lord
"Blessed be Your passion, O Lord, for our salvation. Blessed be Your humiliation for our sake. Let us bear suffering with Your sufferings and let us rejoice in Your resurrection." (Proeminion(45)
Philanthropic Suffering

In her book of translations of St. Ephrem's hymns, McVey uses the term "philanthropic" to define suffering done willingly for the benefit of those who torment the sufferer. (46) This theme is central to St. Ephrem's eleventh Hymn on Virginity in which he points out that Christ is symbolically present in that natural world whose elements are continuously exploited by humankind. He describes three crosses representing the mystical presence of Jesus throughout creation: (1) in the heavenly chariot; (2) in the human being; and, (3) in the earthly creation. (47)

In the earthly creation, we human beings till the soil, plow the seas and pollute the air. Craftsmen work a variety of raw materials to fashion objects, which may be of no use. Jesus, too, suffered for our sake willingly, even though it was our debt to repay. 

St. Ephrem finds parallels in Jesus' death in the elements of: 

Wood by means of its harsh treatments resembles the cross Iron and a sharp stake, indeed, pierce the pearl like the One Who was pierced by nails on the cross...
And who will tell the suffering of the grain of wheat? Indeed, how many scourgings and afflictions it encounters! By its torments it gives life to its tormentors 
Incenses are, like the victors [martyrs], cast into the fire. Their scents rise up like their good Lord Who by means of His death exhaled the scent of His vitality.
So also the farmer by means of iron rends and cleaves the earth, but she is not angered by her suffering; her treasures and her womb she opens by her sufferings. 
The sheep in its shame strips off its garment and cloak and gives all of it to its shearers, like the Lamb Who divided His garments for His crucifiers. Great is the symbol of the lamb who is quiet in his life and sings in his death. All these things rich by their symbols: they open by their sufferings the treasure of their riches, and the suffering of the Son of the Gracious One is the key of His treasures. (48) 

The fragrance of martyrs (above) imitates that of Jesus on the Cross. 

Great Friday of Crucifixion: Adoration of the Cross
"O Lord Jesus, we worship You who have filled the world with the fragrance of Your incense. For Your cross is a spiritual censer, and creation has been reconciled to Your Father by its smoke. But in place of a fiery coal, there is Your blood. And rather than fragrant smoke, there is Your love. The smoke which rose from Your cross was offered to Your Father through the priesthood of Your human nature." ("Adoration of Christ") (49)
This prayer sums up so well that Jesus is not only the New High Priest, but also the lasting sacrificial oblation, offered once and for all and forever. We, by the virtue of our Baptism, share in Jesus' priesthood. By virtue of Jesus' example, we are called to offer ourselves up in glory. 


Perhaps because of our heritage as a church under siege and subject to frequent persecutions, the Maronite liturgy constantly and vigilantly preaches for and petitions on behalf of peace and unity. Because of the sin of Adam and the action of sin in our lives, sin is at the deepest root of alienation, acting to forestall the peace and unity necessary for the coming of the Kingdom because: 

(1) The initial impact of sin is the separation it creates between God and humankind (God and the individual). Jesus' death on the Cross, reconciled heaven and earth and removed the enmity and discord which Adam's sin created. 
(2) Sin also causes an inner desolation, in the mind and in the heart, which leads us to an unnatural folly in thinking and making judgments. (50)
(3) Finally, sin puts all the universe, all creation, at odds with humankind. We are not in sync with the movement of the cosmos toward the Creator, and have become strangers to that very creation for which we were given stewardship. (51)
With the debt of Adam's sin paid, we became adopted sons and daughters, heirs to the Kingdom of Christ. (52) In the liturgy we pray: " By Your wondrous cross, and the nails which pierced Your blessed hands, You erased and removed the bill for our debts." (53) 


Through the Cross we are "reconciled by Christ's physical body through death." Therefore, we have become "holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation." (Col. 1:21-22) As said in the liturgy, "offering His life on the cross reconciled all things in Himself." (54) 

Service of the Weekdays of the Season of the Glorious Cross 
"O God the Word, You desired to taste death on behalf of all peoples. O great Peace, You climbed the cross and destroyed the walls of the old animosity. O mighty One, You visited the abode of the dead and freed those who were held captives there." (Sedro(55)
We are no longer alienated from God, nor enemies in thought or deed. "By His suffering, Christ redeemed us from our sins; by His death He has opened for us the door of salvation and has reconciled heaven and earth. To Christ, the good One, are due glory and honor" (56) In our liturgy we prayerfully reflect on this. 
Passion Week Service 
"By His suffering, Christ redeemed us from our sins; by His death He has opened for us the door of salvation and has reconciled heaven and earth." (Proemion(57)
The Cross of Christ secures the foundations of the earth through reconciliation and through the Gospel which flows from it. (Heb. 11:11) Although the Cross appears as a "stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles", it provides a new way, a new wisdom in our relationships to self, God and others. (1 Cor. 1:23) By ratifying the types and figures of seers and ancients, we hold on to a new confidence, a new assurance because the prophecies and the parables have been fulfilled. (Rm. 13:11, 1Thes. 5:8-9) 

Jesus' death brings peace as Jesus gathers all things-- all of Creation, the whole cosmos-- to Himself. 

Great Friday of the Crucifixion: Adoration of the Cross
"May we be worthy to praise, glorify and honor the heavenly Peacemaker Who was hung on a cross. He opened His arms and gathered all people. The Lord became flesh and by His cross saved the world." (Proeminion(58)
Jesus' passion is the perfect form of redemption because it best reveals the greatness of God's love: "For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16) Because of this love, Jesus' suffering has superabundant value, justifying us so that we may bring worthy gifts to the Father. (cf. Rom. 5:15-21) 
Great Friday of Crucifixion: Adoration of the Cross
"O Christ, You chose to ascend the heights of the cross, and to raise our sinful humanity to Your divine majesty. to overcome evil and all his powers." (Korozooto(59)
Jesus' death defeated Satan and overcame Death, inaugurating a new, eternal covenant, during which His Cross and saving mercy are ever present in the Holy Mysteries. (60)

In exalting the Cross, we proclaim that the Cross is a "source of glory" that is "filled with every blessing," which clothes us in glory that was ours at Creation. We worship the Cross for it restored us to paradise and rescued us from the destruction of sin. (61)


The above prayers approach the problem of sin (alienation) on three levels: God-humankind, the person-the innerself, and humankind and the Cosmos (all of Creation). In concrete terms, we pray to end anger and division. 

In a series of prayers celebrating Great Friday, the Great Saturday of Light and the Exultation of the Glorious Cross, our liturgy addresses the need for unity and peace on these three levels. (62) The prayers weave a pattern of petition from the personal to the universal, from the individual to the cosmic. For example, we ask to remove anger, an individual element. However, we acknowledge the great power of sin by coupling it to a more universal activity: Putting an end to war! Furthermore, we note that an internal disorder, generally associated with the heart, could lead to outbursts of anger. (63) Therefore, we petition God to bring peace and unity through humility, obedience and discipline.

Great Saturday
"O disciple who seeks to imitate the Lord, come and see how Christ humbled Himself and, like Him, seek humility." (Supplication of St. James) (64)
We ask Jesus to "completely perfect us in Your [Jesus'] strength. Visit us and revive us, so that our image may be renewed and our likeness recovered." (65)
Great Friday of Crucifixion: Adoration of the Cross
"As in the beginning, You created out of love and then returned to save and give life, visit once again Your creation and grant peace to Your whole creation by Your cross."(Sedro(66)

The universality of Jesus' redemptive act is symbolized in His outstretched arms on the Cross -- the Gospel is for all peoples, for all times and for all things in heaven and on earth. 

Great Friday of the Crucifixion: Adoration of the Cross 
"The whole earth has been enlightened by the light of Your cross, and the darkness of ignorance has been turned back"(Qolo, str. 2) (67)
Ours is a ministry of reconciliation. 

All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:18-21) [Emphasis added] 

The primary institution responsible for day-to-day salvation is the Church. The mission of Christ's Church is to sanctify us in faith by announcing the Cross. (1Cor. 11:26) Therefore, the Maronite liturgy takes great care to praise the Church, pray for the Church, and to teach about the qualities of the Church. 

The Exultation of the Glorious Cross
"In the four corners of the world, the Church worships and exalts the cross: through it she was saved from error; by it she has inherited the heavenly kingdom. May Your cross, O Lord, be a tower of protection for the holy and faithful Church from one end of the earth to the other. Remove from her disputes, harmful divisions and scandals. Make peace and tranquillity reign in her midst for ever and ever. May all her children be shielded under the wings of the cross." (Qolo(68)
The Church

Our Syriac heritage emphases the basic Christian concept that the Kingdom or the Reign of God, in eschatological time and in the heavenly realms, is reflected in the Church here on earth. Salvation comes to us and is experienced and nurtured through the ministry of the Church. 

Christ is the wise Architect Who constructed his Church "as a fortification of forgiveness, and enclosed His priestly people within His care as a stronghold of trust. In His mercy, He built a tower of redemption for His people. Thus in the community of life, the redeemed are protected from all harm by His cross. (69)

Jesus gives us the Church to protect us, and expects us to give great care to the Church, His Bride and our Mother. The Church is the New Eve "without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." (Eph. 5:27) 

In order to protect the Church, Jesus gave the Church two gifts: "the cross of life to guard them [the people] and righteous priests to serve them". (70)

An important concept framing our liturgical references to the Church is that the Church is the "Bride of Christ", betrothed to Him on Calvary. 

Bride of Christ

The universal Church sings God's praises because He has "exalted her and clothed her with the robe of glory." 

Exultation of the Glorious Cross
"May Your cross, O Lord, be a tower of protection for Your Church, betrothed to You by Your crucifixion." ("Supplication of St. Ephrem) (71)
Service of the Weekdays of the Season of the Glorious Cross
"O Christ the Bridegroom, You betrothed the Church by Your life-giving passion, and raised her up in glory by Your resurrection." (Sedro(72)
The Church, betrothed to Christ at Crucifixion becomes the fountain of graces, showing us the way to the Father. (Col. 1:15) 

The liturgy expresses great reverence and concern for the Church throughout the year. We continuously petition the Blessed Trinity to guard and protect her and all her ministers and people. Many of the prayers pinpoint the types of difficulties which cause dissension and alienation. (Many of these have been part of our history.) It is worth noting and meditating on these prayers so as to be cognizant of the traps Satan lays for us in our every day conversation and thought processes. The prescription to building a healthier, holier church is an imperative in the teaching-prayers of our liturgy and a guidepost of our spirituality. 


For many, the Cross is a relic worthy of veneration because of its role as the altar upon which our Paschal Lamb was sacrificed for our salvation. 

Memorial of Prophets, the Just and Confessors
"In their midst, all nations adore You for You redeemed them with Your blood and saved them by Your cross." (Qolo(73)
First Sunday of Great Lent: Cana Sunday
"Glory to You, O Christ, the true wine. You gave us the wine pressed on the cross that quenched the thirst of the Church and all people with a love beyond description " (Etro(74)
Passion Week Service
"Blessed be Your passion, O Lord, for our salvation. Blessed be Your humiliation for our sake. Let us bear suffering with Your sufferings and let us rejoice in Your resurrection." (Mazmooro(75)
Communion of the People
"This is the cup which our Lord prepared on the cross. Come forth, O mortals, and drink from it for the forgiveness of sins." (Str. 1) (76)
The Cross, which signs us in Baptism, has power from the Holy Spirit because of its association with Jesus' crucifixion. 

Indwelling of the Spirit

Philoxenus of Mabbug, a major Syriac writer of the fifth and sixth centuries, addresses the veneration of relics in his treatise on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. For Philoxenus, the Holy Spirit gives relics power to effect "signs and wonders." 

" For the bones of the just , while they do not have any natural soul in them - for that left them at their death - still have the Holy Spirit abiding with and in them, and it is He who effects signs and wonders in them..."(77)
Exultation and Worship

The use in our liturgy of "exaltation" and of "worship" are wholly appropriate in the light of role the Cross played in salvation history. A brief exegesis of the dictionary definition provides an illustration. (78)

to elevate Because of the role the Cross has played in our Redemption
to elevate in power or dignity The Cross benefits from Jesus' saving act.
to elevate with joy, pride, or confidence 

to elevate in estimation and praise

We are totally confident in the saving power of the Cross, and praise it with joy, and suffer for it with pride. 

This is the reason for the season.

to adore; to venerate The liturgy is replete with language of adoration and veneration.
to have intense love or admiration for This love of the Cross is the cause of great holiness in the lives of the everyday people as well as of the saints.

St. Ephrem reasons that, if we should glory in the fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God, then the Cross should be praised for upon it ".. the Son of its Lord rode." (79) Additionally, Ephrem proposes that even less than intimate contact with Jesus can make an object blessed. For example, "So great is contact with You [Jesus] that even if someone cast a stone at You, it would be a pearl." (80)

Our celebration of the Cross is a solemn remembrance of the saving power of the glorious Cross. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the Cross acquired spiritual powers because of its association with Jesus' death. We, therefore, address the Cross as if addressing Jesus. 

The Rite of the Cross
"The cross is the hope and salvation of all peoples.(81) The cross is the destruction and death of Satan. Today we exalt the cross and cry out to the living Son of God." (Qolo(82)
Great Friday of Crucifixion: Adoration of the Cross
"O cross, you are a reproach and yet a source of glory. Eve's curse has been crucified on you, and you are filled with every blessing. The Son of God hangs naked on the cross, but the son of Adam, he clothes with glory."(83)
"Lord, we worship Your cross, for it is our resurrection and renewal. By Your cross, we are restored to the paradise we had renounced. Blessed is the wood of the cross, for it has rescued all people from destruction." (Qolo, strs. 9-10) (84)
Exultation of the Glorious Cross
" In the four corners of the world, the Church worships and exalts the cross: through it she was saved from error; by it she has inherited the heavenly kingdom." (Qolo(85)
It is notable that the citations in this essay come from every part of the liturgical year. This underscores the importance of the Cross to our spirituality. 


Two references to Golgotha appear in the Great Friday of Crucifixion liturgy: (86)

"May we be worthy to praise, worship and glorify the chalice of salvation which was filled on Golgotha."
"O Christ our God, in Your great and unspeakable love for all, You became our sacrifice on Golgotha."
Our liturgy clearly points out that Golgotha benefited from its association with Jesus, just as did the Cross. In his 36th Hymn of Virginity, Ephrem declares that even Golgotha rejoices and praises God because it now enjoys the same status as the holy Mount Sinai. "ToYou again Golgotha gives thanks that she was made equal to that great mountain that was erected higher than her " (87)

Again, Ephrem demonstrates that even though it was our sin that erected barriers between heaven and earth, the Creator made the ultimate sacrifice of condescension and death to repay our debts. (88) Therefore, we, through the expression and discipline of our bodies and souls, praise in wonder.

"The body thanks You that it was saved by Your abasement Instead of our body You gave Your body to that Death that consumed us but was not sated. By You alone it was sated and burst. Let the soul thank You-- that filthy thing that You wiped clean of the stains of debts she incurred by her freedom the Merciful One wove a garment of light, He clothed her You cleansed the soul that had acted foolishly. You bathed it in Your blood, bleached [it] and made it gleam."(89)
Attributes of the Cross in Syriac Christian Literature and Liturgy

In Hymns of the Fast (II.4), St. Ephrem praises Jesus "who put on Adam", i.e., became incarnate, took on the person of a human, and, "by means of the Wood of the Cross made him [Adam] leap back into Paradise." Jesus reconciled heaven and earth, allowing us to re-enter Paradise. (90)

The Cross has removed the barrier to Paradise not only to those who were expelled, but also to those not of the Chosen People, and in parallel, to those who are penitent. The Cross removed the wall holding back the Gentiles from intimacy with God. Now, all peoples are adopted children of God. (91)

The Cross also removed the barrier between the middle-ground of the holy and just, and the lower ground of the sinner. (92) The promise of eternal life to the penitent thief underscores the belief that salvation can come to anyone, even at the "eleventh hour", if they are truly sorry. (93)

Ash Wednesday (Monday in the Eastern Rite)
"Blessed is Christ who has opened the way to all who repent and are justified. They became companions of the angels in the kingdom. At the third hour, the prophets entered. At the sixth hour, the apostle entered, and at the ninth, the martyrs. But at the eleventh hour, a thief entered and became the companion of the angels in the kingdom. Repent, repent, O sinners, for there is still time for conversion. When the righteous are rewarded for their deeds, you will enter with them into the kingdom of light." (Mazmooro(94)
About the Good Thief, St. Ephrem writes: "With the cross that catches all thieves, He caught that thief for life." (95)

Christ put the "old person" to death on His Cross" so that we may be fully aware of our total humanity which consists of the body and of the 'spiritual person' within. Only through this full awareness can our prayer be conversation with the Holy Spirit. (96)

Hanging on the Cross, Jesus must have looked devastated, weak and pitiful. St. Ephrem sees Jesus differently. For at the moment we were reviling and mocking Jesus, the Light of His Cross illuminated Sheol and the dead prepared to meet their redeemer.

Hymns on Virginity, No. 4
"For He saw that all of Him was hanging on the cross but His power made all creation tremble. For [His power] darkened the sun and shook the earth; graves were torn open, and the dead emerged.(97) See, indeed, that He was entirely on the cross, while yet He remained entirely everywhere. While indeed He was on the cross, He revived the dead"(Strs. 161-170) (98)
What profound insight! Divinity and humanity operating simultaneously but in two different ways, on two different planes: as the humanity is slipping away, the Divinity enters Sheol to free the dead. The body hangs motionless on a cross, posted on a hill, while the Divinity maintains the movements of the cosmos. 

The Cross of Light, in cooperation with Baptism, clothes us in the robe of glory and signs us as adopted children of God. 

The light that is there tinges the body with its colours and it gradually sees itself clothed as if in rays of light. The Cross of Light which is there causes its brightness to shine forth over them; hence they are signed with its mighty symbol. (99)

Throughout this essay, we have seen a profusion of titles and attributes given to the Cross. The following summary underscores the vastness of our Syriac spirituality in its desire to express the inexpressible. 

Titles Of The Cross
Banner Of [The Church's] Spouse Living Cross Sign Of The Son
Bridge Palm Tree Of Parables Source Of Glory
Cross Of Light Pillar Of Fire Source Of Grace
Cross Of Our Salvation Pillar Of Wood Spiritual Censer
Crown Of The Faithful Pride Of Our Testimony Standard Of Our King
Foundation Of The Church Promise Of Our Inheritance Standard Of Victory
Fount Of Blessings Renewal Stronghold, Refuge, Support 
Giver Of Life Resurrection Tower And Shield Of Protection
Key To Paradise Root Of Our Lives Tower Of Mercy
Life Giving Cross Saving Cross Tree Of Life
Light Of The World Scepter Triumph Over The Serpent
Shield Of Protection Wood
Attributes of the Cross
Achieves holy orders Glorifies us Ratifies the promises and covenant of the old testament
Betroths the Church Illumined the entire world, saved it from error Reconciles heaven and earth
Brings nations to repentance and to the Father Ineffable, glorious mysteries Redeems creation
Brings salvation Is wondrous, victorious and glorious Rescues and restores our glory
Clothes us Marks us Restores us to the Father
Completes our Sacrifices Opened gates of Paradise Safeguards and exalts us
Consecrates our Prayers Our hope, refuge, perfection Saved us
Crossing to the abode of eternal life Overcomes Death and the Power of Satan Seals our Bodies, Anoints our Senses
Fulfills Prophecies and Visions Pays the Debt of Our Sins Seals us at Baptism
Gave the Church the inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom Protects Souls Sustains heaven and earth


The English translations can give us only a glimpse of the deeper meaning of the Aramaic language styles and symbolism used by the Syriac Fathers. To peel away some of the translucent, sweet onion skin our Syriac spirituality opens to us a whole new world of awe, wonder, praise and thanksgiving. 

Syriac spirituality is grounded in the awesome reality that: 

(1) With God we are co-creators of our own cosmos. The Creator made us in His image and likeness, thus giving us the power to imagine, plan, reason, communicate, and to create/procreate. As such, our task on Earth is to continue the transforming/creative process so clearly described in Genesis. Sharing in the Creator's work makes us "like gods". This fact made the Syriac Fathers shudder with humility in light of our nothingness, compared with God. The Syriac Fathers had a deep appreciation of the Creator-created relationship, and were astounded that God should think so highly of us, despite our smallness and sinfulness. 
(2) God gave us the fruits of creation as helpers on our earthly pilgrimage. Rather than exploiting Earth and each other, we are expected to look on all of creation as means of revealing the person of God Himself. Our associations and relations with others and our use of Earth should aid us to attain eternal life, rather than cause division, evil, starvation and pollution. As indicated in this essay, the Syriac Fathers often meditated on Nature, seeking from it clues about the Creator and about the person of Jesus. 
(3) The Creator loves us with a love beyond all understanding and measure. Even though the sin of Adam and Eve caused the breach between heaven and earth, the All Mighty One transcended His nature to repair the damage. For centuries God has "bent over backwards" to keep us in covenantal relationship with Him, as demonstrated by the prophets, etc. The Syriac Fathers wondered at this phenomenon, because God has never needed us, but rather we need God. Yet, because of God's tremendous, overwhelming, and nurturing love for His creation, we live in a time of Grace. 
(4) The Incarnation is the absolutely highest form of divine condescension. Unlike all other instances in which God used elements of creation (people and things) to call us back to covenantal relationship, God, in some mysterious and glorious way, took on a human person, with all the trials and tribulations common to all. In the person of Jesus, God the Father "wowed" the Syriac Fathers out of their limitations as humans. Even before the Syriac Fathers had digested this God-Man phenomenon, Jesus gave His life for us. The Syriac Fathers had great empathy and understanding of the wretchedness of crucifixion, and, therefore, were overwhelmed with grief, shame and humility that Jesus should stand in our place and make restitution for our sins. As demonstrated in this essay, Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death, and asks us to do the same! Syriac Spirituality is the search for and practice of this "dying to self". 
(5) When God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, we Christians knew for certain that the Incarnation and suffering/death of Jesus had a meaning which would only be completely and clearly revealed in heaven. The Resurrection gave us a new understanding of the Cross. The view of the Syriac Fathers toward the Cross changed profoundly. Rather than finding the Cross "loathsome", we exult and glorify it. With a blessed assurance, the Syriac Fathers set their sights on the Heavenly Banquet; and in their humility and unselfishness, they help us on our journey through their writings and by their example. 
(6) The Syriac Fathers believed that revelation is an on-going process, therefore, they mediated on scripture, on holy writings and on nature to see what God was saying to them in their particular time and space. St. Ephrem, and the others, realized that poetry, symbolism and metaphor would more easily open our minds and hearts to new, fresh revelations than philosophical speculation and preaching and teaching based on rational, linear models. Therefore, they employed a variety of imaginative techniques, not only unparalleled since their time, but also which have fallen out of use, in most instances. 
The listings of titles for and attributes of the Cross testify to the richness, earthiness, and complexity of our ancestors' ruminations on what is being revealed in nature, in humankind, in the Bible and in the interaction of these three. The writings of the Syriac Fathers have the capability of taking us on a wondrous and awesome carpet ride to the heavenly heights, where praise and thankfulness abound in silence, stillness and joy. 

Study Groups

The paradoxes weaving together events, types and symbols to produce a burst of fire inside us is worthy of our deepest and most serious attention both in prayer and in study groups. This essay contains a great deal of information and biblical citations which could occupy serious study and reflection for at least eight weeks. 

It is recommended that the reader make a number of copies of this article for use in a study group where prayer, meditation and discussion, inspired by the Holy Spirit, will prepare the participants for the celebration of the Exultation of the Glorious Cross and for the Coming of our Lord. 

Maran atha! -- Our Lord, has Come!(100)

*Roger J. AbiNader studies and writes on Maronite Spirituality.

(1) Eparchy of St. Maron, USA, Qurbono: The Book of Offering, The Service of the Holy Mysteries According to the Antiochene Syriac Maronite Rite: Season of Glorious Pentecost, Season of the Glorious Cross, (St. Maron Publications, U.S.A., 1994), p. 180. The Green Book. | Back to text |

(2) For Great Friday see the Gray Book: Season of Great Lent and Passion Week, pages 167-211; for The Exultation see the Green Book, pages 176-197; for Resurrection see the Gold Book: Season of the Glorious Resurrection, pages 9-29. | Back to text |

(3) Gray Book., p. 208. | Back to text |

(4) Kathleen E. McVey, Translator, Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns. (Paulist Press, 1989) p. 464. See "Hymns on Virginity, No. 51", strophe 12: "If the visible light is intangible, how can the hidden Light be comprehended? But if He is not able to be touched by thought, how did they seize Him [and] crucify Him?" | Back to text |

(5) McVey, pp. 82-83. | Back to text |

(6) Eparchy of St. Maron, USA, Qurbono: The Book of Offering, The Service of the Holy Mysteries According to the Antiochene Syriac Maronite Rite: Season of the Glorious Birth of The Lord, (St. Maron Publications, 1993), p. 104. The Red Book. | Back to text |

(7) Gray Book, p. 169. | Back to text |

(8) Jesus taught the Apostles to call Father-God "Abba" or "Daddy". See: Mark 14:36. For more on the relational change see Sebastian Brock, Translator, Saint Ephrem, Hymns on Paradise. (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1990), p. 30. | Back to text |

(9) (Metanoia is a Greek expression which indicates that we turn towards God by changing the way we live and make choices by adopting new thought processes, i.e., we change our rational minds. The Hebrew shuv also means to turn towards God but by a change of heart, the seat of wisdom and judgment. Shuv seems more appropriate in light of our Syriac roots.) | Back to text |

(10) Pope John Paul II, Orientale Lumen (The Light of the East), Apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II to mark the centenary of Orientalium Dignitas of Pope Leo XIII, May 2, 1995, No. 5. | Back to text |

(11) Orientale Lumen, No. 4. | Back to text |

(12) See "Decree of Ecumenism " ("Unitatis Redintegratio") in The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., Gen. Ed. (Guild Press, 1996), pages 361-364. | Back to text |

(13) Pope John Paul II, The Coming Third Millennium (Tertio Millennio Adveniente), Apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II on preparation for the jubilee of the year 2000, November 10, 1994, No. 37. | Back to text |

(14) Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), p. 49. | Back to text |

(15) Henry Snyder Gehman, Ed., The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible. (The Westminster Press, 1970), p. 195. | Back to text |

(16) For more details see The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., The Reader's Digest Jesus and His Times, 1987, pages 256-292. | Back to text |

(17) Hyssop is a plant used in purification rites; it is aromatic. | Back to text |

(18) Gray Book, p. 196. | Back to text |

(19) Sebastian Brock, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life, (Cistercian Publications, Inc., 1987), p. 174, "On Prayer" by Anonymous No. I, an unknown writer who lived during the second half of the fifth century. | Back to text |

(20) Gold Book, "Pentecost: Adoration of the Holy Spirit: Invitation to Stand", p. 88. | Back to text |

(21) Gray Book, " Anaphora of St. John the Apostle: Blessing and Dismissal", p. 264. | Back to text |

(22). Syriac Fathers. | Back to text |

(23) Syriac Fathers, "Admonition on Prayer", p.. 70. Evagrius is one of the most important on the spiritual life and lived during the fourth century. | Back to text |

(24) Syriac Fathers, "Prayers of the Mystics", p. 356. Joseph Hazzaya, the Visionary (Abdisho), eighth century. | Back to text |

(25) Sebastian Brock, Trans., The Harp of the Spirit, Eighteen Poems of Saint Ephrem, (Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, 1983), p. 13. | Back to text |

(26) Syriac Fathers, p. 358. | Back to text |

(27) Maronite spirituality often refers to the "hiddenness" of the Creator made manifest through creation, especially humankind, and reaching its full expression in Jesus. In Syrian iconography artists rarely depict the Creator as a person, but honor His hiddenness by the visible "divine hand" conducting the whole of the cosmos. See Guita G. Hourani's "Frescoes of Saint Theodore's Church, Bahdidat Lebanon", Journal of Maronite Studies, Volume 1, No. 2, April 20, 1997, page 6. | Back to text |

(28) Please note that bracketed [ ] remarks are added by the author for clarification. | Back to text |

(29) Syriac Fathers, p. 358. | Back to text |

(30) Harp, p. 13. | Back to text |

(31) Sebastian Brock, Trans., Hymns On Paradise, (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1990), p. 41. | Back to text |

(32) Green Book, p. 110. | Back to text |

(33) Green Book, p. 181. | Back to text |

(34) Red Book, p. 138. | Back to text |

(35) Syriac Fathers, "On Prayer, from the Teaching of the Solitaries", p. 182. Anonymous No. II wrote during the tenth or eleventh centuries. | Back to text |

(36) St. Paul writes on kenosis, i.e., self-emptying in Phil. 2:8 and Heb. 5:8. The quote is from Syriac Fathers, "Prayers of the Mystics", page 343. | Back to text |

(37) Syriac Fathers, "John the Elder, Letter 5", p. 331. | Back to text |

(38) Jesus' death and resurrection ended the bondage of the old law which were prescriptions of what to avoid. The Law was holy but could not give life. However, Jesus initiated a new law of love and grace, through the Holy Spirit which gives life and makes new. Cf. Rom. 7:7-25. The Maronite liturgy for the Second Sunday of Great Lent: Sunday of the Man With Leprosy sings this belief in the Qolo, strophe 2, Gray Book, page 43: "All the heavy burdens imposed by Moses' law, Christ bore them by his death on the cross." | Back to text |

(39) Syriac Fathers, "Joseph the Visionary, On Spiritual Prayer", p. 318. | Back to text |

(40) "Single-mindedness", expressed by the Syriac term ihidaya, is only one of its many theological meanings. See Brock, Syriac Fathers, p. xxii. Humiliation: The Syriac Fathers stressed the necessity of humiliation which burns like a fire in one's heart. Joseph indicates that, out of love of God, true self-emptying and true humility flows, modeling Phil 2:7: "Christ emptied himself, taking the form of a servant." "Self-emptying" (msarrquta, in Syriac), or kenosis (Greek) of the divine begs to be met with the kenosis of the human person. See Brock's Syriac Fathers, page xxxi. | Back to text |

(41) McVey, "Hymns on Virginity, No. 30", strophes 10-12, p. 397. | Back to text |

(42) Gray Book, p. 175. | Back to text |

(43) Eparchy of St. Maron USA, Qurbono: The Book of Offering, The Service of the Holy Mysteries According to the Antiochene Syriac Maronite Rite: Sunday, Memorial of the Resurrection of the Lord, (St. Maron Publications, 1994) p.. 12. The Light Blue Book. | Back to text |

(44) Gray Book, "Passion Week: Service for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Opening Prayer", p. 137. | Back to text |

(45) Ibid., p. 142. | Back to text |

(46) McVey, p. 307. | Back to text |

(47) Heavenly Chariot: Ezek. 1:4-25. | Back to text |

(48) McVey, "Hymns on Virginity, No. 11", pp. 307-309. | Back to text |

(49) Gray Book, p. 208. | Back to text |

(50) Rom. 7: 23-24. " but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" | Back to text |

(51) Cosmic Alienation: Gen. 3:17: "To Adam He said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life." | Back to text |

(52) Eph. 1:5. "He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will." | Back to text |

(53) Green Book, "The Exultation of the Glorious Cross, Etro", p. 182. | Back to text |

(54) Red Book, "New Year's Day: World Day of Peace, Proeminon", p. 112. | Back to text |

(55) Green Book, p. 36. | Back to text |

(56) Gray Book, "Passion Week, Service for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday", Proeminion, p. 138. | Back to text |

(57) Ibid., p.138. | Back to text |

(58) Gray Book, p. 198. | Back to text |

(59) Gray Book, p. 205. | Back to text |

(60) Peace: Eph. 2:15; Gathering: John 11:52, 12:32; Defeated Satan: Col. 2:15. Overcoming Death: 1 Cor. 15.54. | Back to text |

(61) See Green Book, "Exultation of the Glorious Cross, Sedro", pp. 180-181. | Back to text |

(62) The prayers from Great Friday and the Saturday of Light are found in the Gray Book, pages 199-206 and page 225. The prayers for the Exultation are found in the Green Book, pages 181-183. | Back to text |

(63) As discussed in fn. 12, the heart is the seat of judgment and decision making. | Back to text |

(64) Gray Book, p. 225. | Back to text |

(65) Gray Book, pp. 200-210. | Back to text |

(66) Gray Book, p. 200. | Back to text |

(67) Gray Book, p. 202. | Back to text |

(68) Green Book, pp. 181-182. | Back to text |

(69) Red Book, Sunday of the Consecration of the Church, Proemion, p. 21. | Back to text |

(70) Green Book, p. 187. | Back to text |

(71) Green Book, p. 183. | Back to text |

(72) Gold Book, p. 36. | Back to text |

(73) Green Book, page 53. | Back to text |

(74) Gray Book, page 16. | Back to text |

(75) Gray Book, page 142. | Back to text |

(76) Red Book, page 136. | Back to text |

(77) Syriac Fathers, p. 122. | Back to text |

(78) American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition, Version 3.0a. WordStar Incorporated, 1993. | Back to text |

(79) Hymns, p. 110. | Back to text |

(80) McVey, "Hymns on the Nativity, No. 19", strophe 14, p. 169. | Back to text |

(81) The Syriac Fathers used the term "people" to refer to the Chosen People, the Jews. They used "peoples" to designate non-Jews, i.e., Gentiles. "All peoples" would, therefore, include the entirety of humanity. | Back to text |

(82) Gray Book, p. 188. | Back to text |

(83) There is an inherent paradox in this strophe. Jesus is both the son of the dead Adam and the Son of the Living God. As Jesus clothes Adam and his children in the robe of glory, Jesus' Father clothes Him in glory by the Resurrection. | Back to text |

(84) Gray Book, p. 198. | Back to text |

(85) Green Book, "The Exaltation of the Glorious Cross," Qolo, str. 1, p. 181. | Back to text |

(86) Gray Book, p. 169. | Back to text |

(87) McVey, "Hymns on Virginity, No. 36", p. 421. | Back to text |

(88) St. Ephrem also sees Jesus repaying the debt that humanity owes to His mother Mary for her personal sacrifice and cooperation in the Paschal Mystery, and for Jesus' own personal debt owed to His loving and generous mother. See McVey, "Hymn of Virginity, No. 25", str. 3, p. 370. | Back to text |

(89) McVey, "Hymns on Virginity, No. 37", pp. 425-426. | Back to text |

(90) Hymns, p. 27. | Back to text |

(91) Eph. 1:4-6: "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves." | Back to text |

(92) As mentioned above, the Syriac Fathers depicted the Garden as having a hill or mountain in its center. The Tree of Knowledge was in the middle, while the Tree of Life was hidden at the top. A valley of ignorance was for those who did not know God or who were unworthy because of their sin. Lower Ground: P. 57, Hymns. | Back to text |

(93) At the "eleventh hour" the Good Thief called out: "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingly power" (Lk. 23: 42). | Back to text |

(94) Diocese of St. Maron - USA , The Maronite Liturgical Year, Volume II: Season of Great Lent and Passion Week, (St. Maron Publications, 1982), p. 22. | Back to text |

(95) McVey, "Hymns on the Nativity, No. 4," str. 37, p. 92. | Back to text |

(96) Old Person: 2 Cor. 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Died: Rom. 6:6-7. "For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." Holy Spirit: 1 Cor. 2:13, 2 Cor. 1:22, 2 Cor. 3:18, Gal 6:8, 1 Jn 5:6-8. | Back to text |

(97) See: Matt 27:51-53. | Back to text |

(98) McVey, p. 101. | Back to text |

(99) Harp, "Nisibene Hymns, No. 69", p. 79. | Back to text |

(100) 1 Cor. 16:22. | Back to text |

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