The cross is a heinous instrument of execution. Why, then, do Maronites and other Christians venerate it? The cross adorns our necks, for example, and we hang it in our homes, churches, workplaces, etc. At various liturgies, we adore the cross by kissing and bowing to it. We refer to it as the cross of splendor, the cross of wonder, and the cross of glory, and the Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Glorious Cross each year, on September 14.
The cross, in and of itself, depicts total defeat and horrendous death. Paradoxically, the cross of Jesus Christ symbolizes victory and life. Why? Precisely because of who Jesus the Nazarene is: he is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Crucified One. Hence, in the light of Jesus Christ, let us explore a couple of theological themes about the cross found in the Maronite Book of Offering—henceforth BO.
Hallelujah! In Your light, we see light, Jesus, Full of Light. Since You are the True Light shining upon creation, shine brightly upon us with Your delightful light, and gladden us with the dawn of Your morning.
Hallelujah! Son of the Living One, You who died, was raised, gave life to mortals, consoled those who are buried, and brought hope to those who are asleep, may the departed who confessed the Trinity be raised to life by You.
The One whom the Seraphim carry and cannot look upon His face dwelt in the womb of the blessed one (that is to say, the Blessed Virgin Mary) and arrived at the house of His servants (that is to say, Zechariah and Elizabeth).
The Lord, sitting upon the Cherubim, dwelt in the womb of the blessed one, arrived at the house of His servants, and baptized in the womb the son of the barren ones (that is to say, John, the son of Zechariah and Mary).
Zechariah was awestruck by the words of the watcher speaking to him in the sanctuary, and wonder and astonishment ceased him because of the pregnancy of the barren one [sc. Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife].
The Syriac text is sung according to ܩܳܠܳܐ ܦܫܺܝܛܳܐ
Glory be to the Lord! Since I have eaten Your holy body, fire shall not consume me, and since I have pressed it [sc. Your holy body] to my eyes, they see Your mercy, Lord. I have not been a stranger here; may I not be an outsider there. Do not place me on the side of the goats, [but] make me worthy to praise You with the lambs standing at Your right [see Mt 25:33].
Glory be to the Lord! I took You, Son of God, provision for a journey. Whenever I hunger, I eat from You, Savior of the world. The fire shall stand in awe of my members when the smell of Your body and blood fight it away from me. May Your baptism be for me an unsinkable ship, and may I travel by it [through] the place of fear to the place full of life.