St. Isaac on Venerating the Cross

St. Isaac of Syria died ca. 700

The limitless power of God dwells in the Cross, just as it resided in an incomprehensible way in the Ark which was venerated amidst great honor and awe by the Jewish people, performing by it miracles and awesome signs in the midst in the midst of those who were not ashamed to call it ‘God’ (see Num. 10:35-36, where Moses addresses the Ark as ‘Lord’) that is, they would gaze upon it in awe as though God, because the glory of God’s honored name was upon it. The Ark was honored with this name not only by Jewish people, but by foreign peoples, their enemies: “Woe to us, for the God of the People has come to the camp today”. (cf. 1 Sam. 4:7) That power which existed in the Ark is believed by us to exist in this revered form of the Cross, which we hold in honor in great awareness of God.

Did not Moses and the People prostrate before the Ark in great awe and trembling? Did not Joshua the son of Nun lie stretched out on his face before morning until evening? (Jos. 7:6) Were not God’s fearsome revelations manifested there, as if to afford honor to this object, seeing that the Shekhina of God was residing in it?

Blessed is God who uses corporeal objects continually to draw us close in a symbolic way to a knowledge of His invisible nature. (The Spiritual World of St. Isaac the Syrian by Hilarion Alfeyev, pp. 164-165, 170)

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