In the Prophet Ezekiel (9:6), it is said that when the Angel of the Lord was sent to punish and destroy the sinning people, it was told him not to strike those on whom the "mark" had been made. In the original text this mark is called "tau," the Hebrew letter corresponding to the letter "T," which is how in ancient times the cross was made, which then was an instrument of punishment.
So, even then, it was foretold the power of the Cross, which preserves those who venerate it. Likewise, by many other events in the Old Testament the power of the Cross was indicated. Moses, who held his arms raised in the form of a cross during the battle, gave victory to the Israelites over the Amalekites. He also, dividing the Red Sea by a blow of his rod and by a transverse blow uniting the waters again, saved Israel from Pharaoh, who drowned in the water, while Israel crossed over on the dry bottom (Exodus, ch. 14, 17).
Through the laying on of his hands in the form of a cross on his grandsons, Jacob gave a blessing to his descendents, foretelling at the same time their future until the coming of the "expectation of the nations" (Genesis, ch. 48).
The present Feast is for us the beginning of feasts. Serving as boundary to the law and to prototypes, at the same time it serves as a doorway to grace and truth. “For Christ is the end of the law” (Rom 10:4), Who, having freed us from the letter (of the law), raises us to spirit. Here is the end (to the law): in that the Lawgiver, having made everything, has changed the letter in spirit and gathers everything in Himself (Eph 1:10), enlivening the law with grace: grace has taken the law under its dominion, and the law has become subjected to grace, so that the properties of the law not suffer reciprocal commingling, but only so that by Divine power, the servile and subservient (in the law) are transformed into the light and free (in grace), so that we are not “in bondage to the elements of the world” (Gal 4:3) and not in a condition under the slavish yoke of the letter of the law. Here is the summit of Christ’s beneficence towards us! Here are the mysteries of revelation! Here is the theosis [divinization] assumed upon humankind, the fruition worked out by the God-Man.
As the Fathers say, the extremes from both sides are equally harmful ...
We must) go on the royal path, avoiding the extremes on both sides.
St. John Cassian, Conference II
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS live today in one of the great critical times in the history of Christ's Church. The enemy of man's salvation, the devil, attacks on all fronts and strives by all means not merely to divert believers from the path of salvation shown by the Church, but even to conquer the Church of Christ itself, despite the Saviour's promise (Matt. 16:18), and to convert the very Body of Christ into an "ecumenical" organization preparing for the coming of his own chosen one, Antichrist, the great world-ruler of the last days.
Of course, we know that this attempt of Satan will fail; the Church will be the Bride of Christ even to the end of the world and will meet Christ the Bridegroom at His Second Coming pure and undefiled by adulterous union with the apostasy of this age. But the great question of our times for all Orthodox Christians to face is a momentous one: the Church will remain, but how many of us will still be in it, having withstood the devil's mighty attempts to draw us away from it?
Transfiguration, Spaso Preobrazhensky Monastery, Yaroslavl, ca 1516
The prayers sung in church today explain to us, brothers, that the Lord revealed His divine Transfiguration with the specific goal of persuading His followers that they, too, are to adorn their inner image with virtues, and to shine also with external spiritual beauty. Within our souls lies the insatiable thirst of seeing the internal and external correspond. That is why before the arrival on Earth by the Son of God, the righteous were bewildered why they were fated to eternally exist in a humble state, with their poor, sorrowful appearance, while God allows sinners to adorn themselves in grandeur. The contemporaries of our Savior eagerly expected the day when He would cast off His humble exterior, free Himself of poverty and homelessness, and as a magnificent king, donning shining garments in regal surroundings, would ascend David’s throne, the place of His forefather, and trample underfoot His wicked enemies and the enemies of Israel.
But the Lord reveals to His impatient followers a different, spiritual beauty He possesses, ever-presently, but which is hidden from human eyes in daily life. He ascends with three of His disciples to a mountain, and when His spirit turns in prayer to the Father, His face commences to shine like the Sun, and His clothing become white as snow. Moses and Elias appear with Him from beyond the grave, and a heavenly cloud surrounds them and the disciples, who behold the scene in pious horror. This arrival of an unearthly, heavenly splendor brought the Apostles to inexpressible bliss, and Peter exclaimed, forgetting himself from joy: “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” He ceased at once to yearn for royal splendor or a position of leadership, which the Savior had rejected; he understood how much more magnificent is His Divine sanctity than the banal adornments of this world, how pitiful were the regrets the disciples had over their Teacher’s external poverty and meekness. He in fact had an overabundance of unearthly, eternal, heavenly beauty and celestial glory.
The following lecture was given in Belgrade at a solemn gathering In memory of His Beatitude Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, by the renowned Serbian theologian Archimandrite Dr. Justin Popovich, at that time professor of dogmatic theology at the Theological Faculty of Belgrade University. The lecture was printed in the journal of the Orthodox theological faculty in Belgrade "Theology" (vol. XIV, No. 1, 1939, p. 40) and is presented here in an English translation by Joachim Wertz. The Russian text of this most eloquent article appears in Vol. X of Archbishop Nikon’s “Life and Works of Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky”. - Ed.
I find myself in the position of an ant who must speak about the soarings of an eagle. Can an ant follow the path of an eagle? No! However, it is possible, from its ant's perspective, for it to admire the eagle soaring in the heavens, and to stand frozen by the awe of sweet delight.
Therefore, with my ant's tongue I want to babble on with some of my observations, and I ask you to pardon an ant, that he dare to speak of an eagle of Orthodoxy. Oh! I am firmly convinced that I possess neither the skill nor the capability to explain the mystery of the wondrous personality of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Anthony, but I am only able to bow down, in fervent awe and pious respect, before the wonders of his boundless love for Christ and his gracious love for man.