all know that the cross was a particularly cruel form of execution
associated with extreme humiliation and unbearable pain. Yet
we in the Orthodox Church refer to the Cross as precious and
life-giving, as our peace and consolation, as a friend and
benefactor. How can that be?
St. John of Kronstadt expresses it this way:
... it is only by Christ's name that I live and obtain
peace, that I rejoice and my heart expands, whilst without
Him I am spiritually dead, I am troubled, and my heart is
oppressed; without the Lord's Cross I should have been long
since the victim of the most cruel distress and despair. Only
Christ keeps me alive: and the Cross is my peace and my consolation.
In another place he says that we experience the effect
of the invincible, incomprehensible, divine power of the Lord's
glorious and life-giving Cross, and by its power we drive
away from our hearts evil passions, despondency, timidity,
fear, and other snares of the Devil. The Cross is our friend
and benefactor". And so it is that we rightly
venerate the cross, falling down before it in adoration, for
it represents the greatest good available to us.