Sundays in Lent all have a special theme. Today’s theme is the Cross.
The historical theme is the victory and joy of the cross, not the suffering. The Church fathers equate the life-giving cross with the tree of life and plant it in the middle of the Lenten pilgrimage. It was the tree that was planted in Paradise; it is to remind the faithful of both Adam’s bliss and how he was deprived of it.
For the faithful preparing for Pascha today, the spiritual theme starts to change from personal faith, and personal effort, to Christ. The Church teaches that it is Christ’s cross that saves. One cannot take up his own cross and follow Christ unless one has Christ’s cross which he took up to save mankind. Partaking of this tree, one will no longer die, but will be kept alive. This is done to refresh, reassure and to encourage those participating in Great Lent. The Church equates the appearance of the cross at this time to the banners and symbols that precede the return of a victorious king.
Veneration of the Cross by the faithful is expected today; you will see long queues in front of the Cross as people wait their turn to venerate it.