14 July 2011

At the Center of Syriac Christianity is the Cross

In Syriac Christianity, however, the theology of symbols continued [sic] to play a leading role in the Church's life at whose center stands the cross. In the cross all elements of theology are present.  One can justly say that Syriac theology is truly a theology of the cross.


The cross is also a living reality to be reflected in our daily life. This is possible because we live in a liturgical time which makes the fruits of the cross present here and now. This presence, however, can be felt in two different ways. There is a positive one, through which we benefit from the blessings of the cross, as a protector, a builder of the Church, a teacher, and a sign of peace.  There is also a negative way in which we experience the narrow path which leads us to the cross which causes the fall of its enemies.

It is the eschatological dimension that makes the cross all the more important.  We will fully know and experience the cross in Paradise, where all symbols will find their fulfillment. The cross will open to us the way to the Father by opening the doors of Paradise, and will guard us in our journey towards eternal life. It will lead us to the kingdom of heaven, because it is the sign of that kingdom, and of the King who is going to come for the second time.  Only then, will the cross have fulfilled its mission by bringing us to the fullness of our salvation which we have acheived and lived in our earthly life. The cross thus becomes, as Ephrem says, everything in our life:
    The cross is our weapon and will,
     it is our life and light.
     The cross reconciles and renews everybody, 
     it consecrates and sanctifies everyone.
     The cross has become a breakthrough, by which
     the two sides which were angry, are reconciled. 
     (Hymni Dispersi XX,2) 

Symbols of the Cross in the Writings of the Early Syriac Fathers
by Cyril Aphrem Karim (Archbishop of the Diocese of the Eastern United States, Syriac Orthodox Church)
2004, published by Gorgias Press http://www.gorgiaspress.com/