The Cross as a Symbol
Saint Gregory of Nyssa (ca.335--ca.395) Comments, "For truly, to those who are able to see,the mystery of the Cross is especially contemplated in the law. Therefore,the Gospel says somewhere that not one iota or one tittle shall pass away from the law (Mt.5;18), signifying in these words the vertical and horizontal lines by which the form of the Cross is drawn."
At the Feast of the Cross,we chant,"The four ends of the earth are
sanctified today by the exaltation of Thy Cross with its four arms."
Saint Gregory of Nyssa speaks of the symbolic implications of the physical attributes of the Cross,saying,"This is the very thing we learn from the figure of the Cross:that He Who was stretched upon it binds together all things into Himself,and by Himself brings to one harmonious agreement the diverse natures of actual existences."Saint Paul prays that Christ might dwell in our hearts through the Faith,which has been rooted and founded in love,in order that we might be able to apprehend with all the saints what is
the breadth and length and depth and height(cf.Eph.3:17,18).
Saint Gregory of Nyssa says the apostle" is describing by the figure of the Cross the power that controls and holds together the
universe,when he expresses a desire that they may be exalted to know the exceeding glory of this power, calling it height,and
depth,and breadth,and length....It manifests a great
mystery:that both things in heaven,and things under the earth,and all the furthest bounds of the things that are,are ruled and sustained by Him Who gave an example of this unspeakable and mighty power in the figure of the Cross.
Saint Kosmas chants to the Cross,saying,"Stretched out in wondrous fashion, the Cross sent forth rays as the sun,and 'the heavens declared the glory of our God(ps.18:1),"Saint Ephraim the Syrian chants,"The Height and the depth have been reconciled in Him!"
The Tree Of Life
Saint Irenaeos(ca.130ca,236),Bishop of Lyons writes:The sin that was wrought through the tree was undone by the obedience of the Tree, obedience to God whereby the Son of Man was nailed to the Tree,destroying the knowledge of evil,and bringing in and conferring the knowledge of good...So by the obedience,whereby He obeyed unto death,hanging on the tree,He undid the old disobedience wrought in the tree.
And because He is Himself the Logos of God almighty,Who in His invisible form pervades us universally in the whole world, and encompasses both its length and breadth and height and depth-for by God's Logos everything is disposed and administered-The Son of God was also crucified in these,imprinted in the form of a cross on the universe for He had necessarily,in becoming visible,to bring to light the universality of His Cross,in order to show openly
through His visible form that activity of His:that it is He Who makes bright the height,that is, what is in heaven,and holds the deep,which is in the bowels of the earth,and stretches forth and extends the length from east to west, navigating also the northern parts and the breadth of the south,and calling in all the dispersed from all sides to the knowledge of the Father."
The Cross,the Tree of Life,was planted in the Place of the Skull
(Mt.27;33,Mk. 15:22, Jn.19:17),and upon it the eternal King worked salvation in the midst of the earth(Ps. 73:13).It sanctifies the ends of the world,and both angels and men rejoice.Saint Theodore the Studite(759-826) chants,"The Church has been revealed as a second Paradise,having within it, like the first Paradise of old,a tree of life,Thy Cross,O Lord.
By touching it, we share in immortality."Saint Joseph the
Hymnographer(810-886) writes: "Christ stretched out His hands upon the Cross,and so destroyed the sin of our forefather who stretched out his hand in greed.By the Tree He healed the curse of the tree(Deut.21:23).