Meskel (The Feast of the Holy Cross) Part 6

This article is prepared by Mahibere Kidusan USA Center

4. We Are Born Again 

Our body and soul ruined because of our sins are restored by the redemption done on the Cross. And this is why Saint Paul the apostle said, "knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." (Romans 6:6). In addi-tion, on his epistle to the Corinthians, Saint Paul wrote, "therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17). As Saint Paul mentioned, our Lord has made us new through His grace, gave us the new testament, and prepared new heaven and new earth for us (Mark 1:15, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1).


Please proceed to Part 7


Meskel (The Feast of the Holy Cross) Part 7

This article is prepared by Mahibere Kidusan USA Center

5. We Are Reconciled  


Due to our sins, we used to live separated from God. Yet, He paid for our trespasses and we were recon-ciled to Him. The apostle Saint Paul stated, "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now re-ceived the reconciliation" (Romans 5:10-11). More-over, he added, "and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." (Colossians 1:20). In his message to the Ephe-sians, he wrote, "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God [Himself] in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the en-mity." (Ephesians 2:14-16, 2 Corinthians 5:17). 

Please proceed to Part 8


Meskel (The Feast of the Holy Cross) Part 8

This article is prepared by Mahibere Kidusan USA Center

Therefore, the Cross, through which all these are secured:

Is Our Strength

Christ, through whom the power of God was revealed, did His redemption by being crucified on the Holy Cross, as it is stated in 1 Corinthians 1:18, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." Hence, the Cross upon which our Lord’s holy body was sacrificed and precious blood was poured is venerated on account of Christ. For instance, on Palm Sunday many were spreading their clothes on the road for the colt in honor of Christ. (Matthew 21:8). So, for us who believe that Jesus Christ is the Only-Begotten Son of God and is wholly and perfectly God within the unity of Godhead, the Cross, which is honored due to Christ and on which His power was revealed, is our strength to beat the devil. This is because our Lord beat the devil with the Cross as it was said, "He shall bruise your head" early on (Genesis 3:15). There are events that happened in the Old Testament to symbolize this: When Moses, the senior of prophets, was praying with his arms stretched out on either side in the form of a cross, the Israelites were strengthened and had victory over their enemies. We, who are referred to as "Israel in spirit", too gain victory over demons by the power of the Cross. Father of the 12 tribes of Israel, Saint Jacob, blessed Joseph’s offspring having being filled with power when he stretched out his arms in the form of a cross (Genesis 48:13-20). We also find blessings for our body and soul by the power of the Cross.

Our archenemy, the devil, has tried everything to snatch the Cross out of our hands—the Cross on which he was defeated at Calvary early on and later at the Church where Christ’s body and blood is consecrated everyday as it was once and for all done at Calvary. While we kiss the Holy Cross and thereby get blessings, there are some who say, "Isn’t it just wood? Why do you kiss it? Why do you bow before it?" However, our Church believes in the power of Christ and does not give a chance for the encroach-ment of doubt through saying, "this is wood, this is just a piece of cloth, and this is only water" as this would be contrary to what is written in the Scripture:

* The rod of Moses has done a lot of miracles be-cause God’s power was on the rod (Exodus 4 through 14);

* Elijah’s mantle has parted the river Jordan not once but twice because God’s power was on his mantle (2 Kings 2:7-14);

* The river Jordan has cleaned Naaman of his lep-rosy because God’s power was on the river (2 Kings 5:1-14);

* The sick were anointed with oil and healed be-cause of God’s power (Mark 6:13, James 5:14);

* The power of God was demonstrated when the blind man got his sight back after washing in the pool of Siloam (John 9:1-12);

* A piece from Saint Paul’s clothing healed many who were sick and demons were casted out through it because the power of God was on his clothing (Acts 19:11-12);

* Saint Peter’s shadow fell on the sick sitting on the sides of the street because God’s power was on his shadow (Acts 5:15). Thus, we need to be cautious so that we do not find ourselves at odds with the owner of the Cross, Christ, saying things that are not of the Cross. This is because being an enemy of the Cross is being the means for the fulfillment of bad prophecy. Regarding this, the apostle Saint Paul said, "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly , and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things."(Philippians 3:18-19).

Therefore, as the prophet David prophesied early on, "Thou hast given a token to them that fear Thee, that they might flee from the bow. That thy beloved ones may be delivered" (Psalm 59[60]:4-5), we should steadfastly hold-on to our sign, which is the Cross that our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ sanctified and honored with His blood and gave to us so that we can flee from the bows of the devil and be saved. We should boast in the Cross saying as Saint Paul said, "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14). There are those who accept the Cross only as a symbol; nevertheless, to us the Cross is our strength, salvation, redemption, and de-liverer of our soul.

We shall now see why we observe Meskel (Feast of the Holy Cross).

Please proceed to Part 9


Meskel (The Feast of the Holy Cross) Part 9

This article is prepared by Mahibere Kidusan USA Center

Why Do We Celebrate Meskel?

Meskel is observed on Meskerem 17 (first month of the year in the Ethiopian calendar) (September 27). It is commemorated because after the Lord died on the Cross and resurrected, the sick were healed by touch-ing the Cross and rubbing their bodies against it. The Jews who saw this dumped the Cross at a landfill out of ill will. Through time the place turned into a small hill from the accumulation of debris. Although they were unable to dig out the Cross, the Christians had an idea where it was laid. However, as the Christians left the city of Jerusalem after Titus’ siege in 70 A.D. as well as due to the overall change in the city’s land-scape and urban surrounding, it was impossible to locate where the Cross was buried. As a result it was left covered for 300 years. Afterward, in the fourth century, mother of the great Emperor Constantine, Queen Helena went to Jerusalem and made relentless effort in quest of the Cross. Finally, following what an elderly man named Kyriakos told her, she asked for the gathering of some wood to bundle and install it for a bonfire (Demera), scattered frankincense on it, and as she lit it, the smoke rose to make a rainbow-like shape over the area where the Cross was buried, like one would point at something with his finger. Without wasting time, she had the excavation started on Meskerem 17 and found the Cross on Megabit 10 (seventh month of the year in the Ethiopian calendar) (March 19). The Cross did a lot of miracles after it was unearthed. The building of a church was finished on Meskerem 17.

In Ethiopia, we celebrate Meskel with bonfire (Demera), by participating in the Divine Liturgy (Kidassie) and Hymns (Mahlet) for the aforementioned reason. Additionally, having seen the miracles done through the Holy Cross, well respected monarchs of that era divided the Holy Cross into four to take for themselves and the piece where the right hand of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ rested (the right wing/segment) is found at Gishen Debre Kerbie Mariam yet the whereabouts of the remaining three pieces is unknown. The right segment of the Cross was brought to Ethiopia during the reign of Atsie Dawit, Ethiopian emperor of the 14th  century. After it came to the land of Ethiopia, there was an attempt to build a church to house it; however, the ground would shake resisting to stay still so they went to several churches looking after the right place until God told them "rest My Cross on a cross-shaped landscape" which led to the only place found with such a shape—Gishen Debre Kerbie—where the right segment of the Cross is kept to this day.

Unaccountable number of people have benefited a lot from the blessings of the Holy Cross and we should commemorate the holiday appropriately so that we too are partakers of the same blessing.


May we have a happy holiday and may we receive benediction from the Cross. Amen.

Glory be unto God


Prepared by:

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

 Sunday Schools Department

Mahibere Kidusan USA Center

Education and Apostolate Service Section

2004 (Ethiopian Calendar)