Forefeast of the Elevation of the Cross
Today, is the forefast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. The Feast of the Elevation of the Cross that we will commemorate tomorrow is one of the two feast days which is held as a strict fast.
The Feast is a holy day of fasting and repentance. On this day the faithful make dedication to the crucified Lord and pledge their faithfulness to him by making prostrations at the Lords feet on the life creating Cross. For the feast, the Cross is placed on a tray surrounded by flowers or branches of basil, and placed in the center of the Church for veneration.
On the eve of the feast (today), Vespers is served and contains three Old Testament readings. The first, from Exodus 15:22-16:1, tells of the “tree” which made the bitter waters sweet, the symbol of the Tree of the Cross. The second reading is from Proverbs 3:11-18, which reminds us that the Lord chastens and corrects those whom he loves and that Divine Wisdom is “a Tree of life to those who lay hold upon her and trust in her, as in the Lord.” The third reading is from the Prophecy of Isaiah 60:11-16; it tells of the “city of the Lord” where both Jews and Gentiles will live together and shall prostrate themselves at the place of God’s feet and “shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.”