The Glorious Feast of the Holy Cross (Sleeba Perunnal)- Sep 14

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

Vellum sathrukkale ninnal njangal-
Dhewshikale methicheedum nin-namathhil
Airikallil ninnum kaathengale nee-
Sathrukkale la-jjippichu       

By Thee strike we all our foes,
By Thy name we tread on those – who hate us
Thou did save as from our foes
All our enemies were put – thou to shame

‘The veneration of the Holy Cross of the Lord’, is one of the most significant aspects of the worship of the God. The Church celebrates the Feast of the Cross, on September 14 each year.  This day became a day for recognizing the Festive atmosphere of the Cross, (than Good Friday) as a symbol of triumph, as a sign of Christ’s victory over death, and a reminder of His promise, “And when I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” (Jn. 12: 32). The Holy Cross is an ever-living symbol of God’s everlasting love toward us sinners, a symbol of Christ’s total self-sacrifice, a symbol of our redemption and salvation, a symbol of Christ’s victory over death and Satan. This day is in honor of the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and known as ‘Holy Cross Day, ‘Sleeba Perunnal’, that marks the discovery of the Holy Cross, the instrument of salvation on which our Lord was Crucified. By venerating the holy Cross, we honor Christ’s sacrifice, passion, and death. Holy Cross Day provides an opportunity for a joyous, celebration of Christ’s redeeming, self-sacrificing, Self-offering death on a cross, for the salvation of the world.

How blessed are those who are saved by the Cross of our Lord Jesus, for they have obtained a godly power to overcome Satan and sin. In Greek and Latin this feast is called the ‘Exaltation of the Holy Cross of our Lord’. All Oriental Orthodox Christians, especially the Armenians and the Ethiopians observe this festival with utmost devotion, although the Ethiopians celebrate this feast on Meskel (the Holy Cross) day as per their Julian calendar tradition. Queen Helene, Mother of Roman Emperor Constantine, was the one, who ventured a pilgrimage to Palestine to discover the Holy Cross in the year 326-328, though she was nearly eighty years of age at that time. She was able to find the Holy Cross and the ‘Church of the Holy Sepulcher’ was built, where the Holy Cross of our Lord was found out. Tradition says that a dead person was made to touch the three crosses that were found in a pit down the outskirts of Jerusalem and at the touch of the real and holy Cross of our Lord the dead person came back to life. We get a notion of this legend in the song ‘Sleebaye vandippanaay Helene Rajnji…’ as well.

Sleeba vennu:vellunnu, Sleeba vidhweshiye vennu, Sleebaye sakshichorkkayi, Sleebayakatte kotta.

Lo, the cross hath won, shall win, Lo, the cross hath smote the foe, And the cross shall be a fort, For confessors of the cross.

Holy Cross is the means of salvation that drives away all evil spirits because the Lord carried it upon His shoulders to Mount Calvary during His ultimate fight with evil. There beyond He ornamented it with His very own human body. Holy Cross is the symbol of peace and the flag of victory. It is in the Holy Cross that our glory confides. It is the fortress for all, who take their refuge in, including churches and monasteries. That is why we all ornament ourselves with a Holy Cross, mostly gold though!

When our thoughts turn to the cross of Christ, what sort of mental picture comes to our mind. Do we see the cross as something ennobling and glorious? Do we have warm, sentimental feelings about Crucifixion? On the feast of the Cross, we remember many vital matters: spiritual, theological, doctrinal and symbolic. This feast invites us to open our minds and hearts to a new understanding of the cross. In the Cross,

We remember the love with which Christ loved us
We remember the Incarnation and its aim.
We remember His endurance.
We remember His Passion
We remember the great power that defeated the devil.
We remember the Victory over sin and death
We remember our sins.
We remember Redemption.
We remember our Discipleship to the Christ
We remember forgiveness.
We remember the Holy Trinity, the One God.
We remember how we should be crucified with Him.
We remember the promise of Eternal life.

So, the Cross has provided Christians with a means of remembering that they are a redeemed people. The godly power hidden in the Holy Cross is the origin of inspiration for us. Apostle Paul says, “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14), “and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Let us sing once again with optimistic and positive trust in the symbol of peace, the Holy Cross that ‘Sleeba pallikal dayaraakal kkellaamaakatte kotta’!

For 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.” I Cor. 1:18

1 Comment

John Thomas Alummoottil · September 13, 2022 at 1:44 pm

Well written
Several times I attended the Byzantine service on this Holy Day. They got a meaningful liturgy, little lengthy like our Good Friday. The liturgy reminds the importance of the Cross. They have a procession with decorated small crosses.

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