In Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic practice, the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-creating Cross commemorates both the finding of the True Cross in 326 and its recovery from the Persians in 628, and is considered to be one of the Great Feasts of the church year.
September 14 is always a fast day, even if it falls on Saturday or Sunday, and the eating of meat, dairy products and fish is prohibited. The Feast of the Exaltation has a one-day Forefeast and an eight-day Afterfeast. The Saturday and Sunday before and after September 14 are also commemorated with special Epistle and Gospel readings about the Cross at the Divine Liturgy. During the All-Night Vigil on the Eve of the Feast, a cross is placed on the Holy Table (altar) where it reposes during the Vigil. The cross is placed on a tray that has been covered with an Aër (liturgical veil) and decorated with fresh basil leaves and flowers, and a candle burns before it. The cross reposes on the "High Place" of the Holy Table, where the Gospel Book normally lies.
Those portions of the Vigil which would normally take place before the Icon of the Feast (the chanting of the Polyeleos and the Matins Gospel) instead take place in front of the Holy Table. One of the high points of the celebration is when, after the Great Doxology, the priest or bishop brings the Cross out of the sanctuary. He sets the cross on a table (tetrapod or analogion) in the center of the temple (nave of the church) as the choir sings of the festal Troparion of the Cross: "Save, O Lord, Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance, granting unto the faithful victory over adversaries, and by the power of Thy Cross, do Thou preserve Thy commonwealth."
In cathedrals and monasteries, a special "Exaltation" is performed by the bishop or abbot, standing in the center of the church. This consists of his taking the cross in his hands and raising it above his head. He makes an exclamation, to which the choir responds, chanting, Kyrie eleison ("Lord, have mercy") 100 times. As they chant, he makes the sign of the cross with it three times, then slowly bows down to the ground, and stands up again raising the cross above his head as before. This process is repeated four more times to the four points of the compass. Then, whether the special Exaltation has been performed or not, the clergy and the members of the congregation prostrate themselves on the ground as all sing, "Before Thy Cross, we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify" three times (at the words "Thy holy Resurrection" all stand up again). Then all come forward to venerate the cross and receive the priest's blessing (see Veneration of the Cross, below). During the veneration, stichera are chanted by the choir. The cross will remain in the center of the temple throughout the Afterfeast, and the faithful will venerate it whenever they enter or leave the church.
Finally, on the Apodosis of the Feast, the priest and deacon will cense around the cross, there will be a final veneration of the cross, and then they will solemnly bring the cross back into the sanctuary through the Holy Doors. This same pattern of bringing out the cross, veneration, and returning the cross at the end of the celebration is repeated at a number of the lesser Feasts of the Cross mentioned below. (SOURCE: Wikipedia) at 9:34 AM 0 comments Links to this