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Story About Finding of the True Cross Seems Unlikely

Alveus Lacuna

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Now that we've gotten past the feast, I have to get something off my chest.

If I have the ability to curb something from the outset, I'd like to avoid the fact that: Yes, Orthodoxy is a religion of miracles. I get that. I'm not stupid. And also that: In order to believe most of those miracles, I have to have faith. I'm just asking that people not mention that fact, as I'm already aware of it. But every time this feast comes around, I just have issues with the story/stories (as there are differing accounts as usual).

So in a nutshell, St. Helen went to the Holy Land and asked around about where the crucifixion happened, and almost none of the Christians there knew. There was no sustained and consistent local tradition of the location. But eventually she found someone who had secret knowledge of the location, which was beneath a pagan temple. She had the temple torn down, and there she found three crosses? But which one was the real cross? I think this is where I get tripped up the most. I realize there are other things to get hung up on, but for me, I just have a very hard time believing this part.

Let's say that somehow her source was perfectly right, and the pagan temple really was built on Golgotha. Even if the location was right, why would all three crosses have been left at that exact location next to each other? And where they just left laying there, undisturbed by all passers-by in a busy city, until enough dirt, sand, and soil naturally covered them? Even if this somehow did happen, how could something like wood have survived intact buried underneath the ground? Wouldn't wood have all deteriorated very quickly, even in a climate like Jerusalem's?

The rest of the story continues in other more ridiculous ways in the future, like armies of people invading and killing other people to recover the True Cross from Persia, when the work of the cross was to save people, but I digress.

Anybody have any helpful responses to the things I mentioned? I'm just trying to be honest with the things that I really don't seem to believe, rather than just ignoring them or pretending that I believe them fully without qualification.

Sorry if I'm rambling. Nothing about this is causing any kind of crisis of faith or is a huge point of concern for me, it would just be nice if there were some ways to see this that seemed less ridiculous to me.
 

TheTrisagion

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I will probably get suitably chastised for this, but I take this story the same way I take Noah's Flood and many of the other hagiographies; with a heavy dosage of salt.
 

DeniseDenise

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TheTrisagion said:
I will probably get suitably chastised for this, but I take this story the same way I take Noah's Flood and many of the other hagiographies; with a heavy dosage of salt.

No wonder why everyone around here has such high blood pressure!
 

Fabio Leite

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The story our priest tells involves no temples.

She would have her soldiers go around the hills and they decided to excavate on a certain hill where they had found lots of basil. They knew which cross was Christ's by bringing sick soldiers to the crosses and letting them touch the relics. Only one cross healed the sick and this one was considered to be the True Cross.

I don't know if the details are right - and probably are not - but I believe the core of the story to be true. She went there and found the True Cross which healed  soldiers.

As for how it could have survived intact all those years, see incorrupt bodies.
 

TheTrisagion

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Eusebius mentions a temple of Venus over the Holy Sepulchre site but does not mention finding the Cross when it was torn down. Three later authors, most notably St. Theodoret, speak of the Cross being found. St. Cyril of Jerusalem did state that the Cross was being venerated circa mid 300s.
 

Amatorus

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Let's say that somehow her source was perfectly right, and the pagan temple really was built on Golgotha. Even if the location was right, why would all three crosses have been left at that exact location next to each other? And where they just left laying there, undisturbed by all passers-by in a busy city, until enough dirt, sand, and soil naturally covered them? Even if this somehow did happen, how could something like wood have survived intact buried underneath the ground? Wouldn't wood have all deteriorated very quickly, even in a climate like Jerusalem's?
Is that not the miracle?

My question is figuring out which relics of wood across the world really are from the True Cross. The King of the Lombards wore an Iron Crown that held a nail from the True Cross.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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Fabio Leite said:
She went there and found the True Cross which healed  soldiers.

As for how it could have survived intact all those years, see incorrupt bodies.
The version I have states that the Patriarch of Jerusalem stopped a funeral procession going by, and touched each of the crosses to the corpse until it was raised from the dead. All these various accounts cannot be true, as they are simply different stories, unless you went in and synthesized them all into a larger story.

Incorrupt relics are placed into tombs. They were not in the open soil.

Interestingly, I've been doing some digging, and there's a bit more to this. Apparently depending upon oxygen exposure, moisture, etc., some unearthed logs range between 600 to 8,000 years in age range. Color me surprised. Granted, this cited example involves bogs, but still: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/English+bog+aok:+rare+bog+oak+is+buried+treasure-a0121878164
 

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Alveus Lacuna said:
Anybody have any helpful responses to the things I mentioned? I'm just trying to be honest with the things that I really don't seem to believe, rather than just ignoring them or pretending that I believe them fully without qualification.

Sorry if I'm rambling. Nothing about this is causing any kind of crisis of faith or is a huge point of concern for me, it would just be nice if there were some ways to see this that seemed less ridiculous to me.
I'm with you, so I'm interested to see where this goes. The whole Theotokos in the temple thing is another one for me, but that's probably best for a different thread.
 

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One thing that sorta helps with the authenticity of the event is how worldwide the feast of the Cross is.  All RC's, EO's, OO's, and Assyrians (and Anglicans and Lutherans) celebrate this feast around this month, usually Sept. 14 (+13 for old calendar).  The worldwide celebration seems to put an emphasis on the importance of the feast, on par with annual big feast days of Christ.  One can imagine when the church dedicated to the area was built, it was such an important event that pilgrimages soared.  We even have a case of a Spanish nun Egeria, who left us important information about these pilgrimages.

So, I tend to believe it based on at least the historical data.  Now, whether she did find the actual cross or not, I doubt there is enough scientific data to help with this, but I do take it with faith considering the importance of this day.
 

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TheTrisagion said:
I will probably get suitably chastised for this, but I take this story the same way I take Noah's Flood and many of the other hagiographies; with a heavy dosage of salt.
I always look at these kinds of things the way a very wise priest once put it to me: "There are a lot of really wonderful stories in the Bible. Some of them may even be true."
 

TheTrisagion

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Aram said:
TheTrisagion said:
I will probably get suitably chastised for this, but I take this story the same way I take Noah's Flood and many of the other hagiographies; with a heavy dosage of salt.
I always look at these kinds of things the way a very wise priest once put it to me: "There are a lot of really wonderful stories in the Bible. Some of them may even be true."
;D
 

NicholasMyra

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[link=topic=66577.msg1342109#msg1342109 date=1444072889]
I'm with you, so I'm interested to see where this goes. The whole Theotokos in the temple thing is another one for me, but that's probably best for a different thread.
[/quote]
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
 

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Can miracles happen to heterodox denominations?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%8C%C3%ADho%C5%A1%C5%A5_miracle

This reported miracle directly led to Communist repression and near-extermination of Christianity in the Czech Republic, and now said country is one of the most if not the most atheist country in the world.
 

William T

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NicholasMyra said:
[link=topic=66577.msg1342109#msg1342109 date=1444072889]
I'm with you, so I'm interested to see where this goes. The whole Theotokos in the temple thing is another one for me, but that's probably best for a different thread.
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
[/quote]

This is true.  There is very little about the details of that document that reflect first century Judaism as we know it, which is one reason it's considered a spurious book.
 

LBK

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NicholasMyra said:
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
Why is the Virgin dwelling in the Holy of Holies any less believable than a man rising from the dead after four days and after his body had begun to stink? The raising of Lazarus is uncontroversial, so why should the Holy of Holies be so?
 

NicholasMyra

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LBK said:
NicholasMyra said:
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
Why is the Virgin dwelling in the Holy of Holies any less believable than a man rising from the dead after four days and after his body had begun to stink? The raising of Lazarus is uncontroversial, so why should the Holy of Holies be so?
Because of how it fits in (or doesnt) within the greater  history of salvation. It is theologically acceptable but does not really make sense.
 

TheTrisagion

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LBK said:
NicholasMyra said:
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
Why is the Virgin dwelling in the Holy of Holies any less believable than a man rising from the dead after four days and after his body had begun to stink? The raising of Lazarus is uncontroversial, so why should the Holy of Holies be so?
The raising of Lazarus is specifically noted as a miracle in Scripture. The story of the Virgin dwelling the Holy of Holies was never considered a miracles and it is not in Scripture. Thus, it is less credible.
 

LBK

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TheTrisagion said:
LBK said:
NicholasMyra said:
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
Why is the Virgin dwelling in the Holy of Holies any less believable than a man rising from the dead after four days and after his body had begun to stink? The raising of Lazarus is uncontroversial, so why should the Holy of Holies be so?
The raising of Lazarus is specifically noted as a miracle in Scripture. The story of the Virgin dwelling the Holy of Holies was never considered a miracles and it is not in Scripture. Thus, it is less credible.
The story of the Virgin in the Holy of Holies is one of the twelve major feasts of the Church. Belief in it is not optional. Indeed, of the other feasts of the Mother of God, only the Annunciation is mentioned in scripture. Does this mean that those other feasts are optional? Or that the Church made a mistake in holding these feasts in such high regard? Of course not.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.
 

TheTrisagion

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LBK said:
TheTrisagion said:
LBK said:
NicholasMyra said:
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
Why is the Virgin dwelling in the Holy of Holies any less believable than a man rising from the dead after four days and after his body had begun to stink? The raising of Lazarus is uncontroversial, so why should the Holy of Holies be so?
The raising of Lazarus is specifically noted as a miracle in Scripture. The story of the Virgin dwelling the Holy of Holies was never considered a miracles and it is not in Scripture. Thus, it is less credible.
The story of the Virgin in the Holy of Holies is one of the twelve major feasts of the Church. Belief in it is not optional. Indeed, of the other feasts of the Mother of God, only the Annunciation is mentioned in scripture. Does this mean that those other feasts are optional? Or that the Church made a mistake in holding these feasts in such high regard? Of course not.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.
No, its not.
 

WPM

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Has something to do with personal faith and whether things exist or not.
 

Alveus Lacuna

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Can we take the arguments about the Presentation feast to my old thread about that from six years ago?

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=23871.0

I'd like to keep this about the finding of the True Cross and see if people can help me tease this out any more. Please don't let this thread die a quick death!
 

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NicholasMyra said:
LBK said:
NicholasMyra said:
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
Why is the Virgin dwelling in the Holy of Holies any less believable than a man rising from the dead after four days and after his body had begun to stink? The raising of Lazarus is uncontroversial, so why should the Holy of Holies be so?
Because of how it fits in (or doesnt) within the greater  history of salvation. It is theologically acceptable but does not really make sense.
Makes sense to me.
 

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Aram said:
I always look at these kinds of things the way a very wise priest once put it to me: "There are a lot of really wonderful stories in the Bible. Some of them may even be true."
I love it. What was his name? I want to find more quotes like this.
 

Mor Ephrem

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TheTrisagion said:
LBK said:
TheTrisagion said:
LBK said:
NicholasMyra said:
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
Why is the Virgin dwelling in the Holy of Holies any less believable than a man rising from the dead after four days and after his body had begun to stink? The raising of Lazarus is uncontroversial, so why should the Holy of Holies be so?
The raising of Lazarus is specifically noted as a miracle in Scripture. The story of the Virgin dwelling the Holy of Holies was never considered a miracles and it is not in Scripture. Thus, it is less credible.
The story of the Virgin in the Holy of Holies is one of the twelve major feasts of the Church. Belief in it is not optional. Indeed, of the other feasts of the Mother of God, only the Annunciation is mentioned in scripture. Does this mean that those other feasts are optional? Or that the Church made a mistake in holding these feasts in such high regard? Of course not.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.
No, its not.
What are you rejecting?
 

Mor Ephrem

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Alveus Lacuna said:
Can we take the arguments about the Presentation feast to my old thread about that from six years ago?

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=23871.0
Great idea!

I'd like to keep this about the finding of the True Cross and see if people can help me tease this out any more. Please don't let this thread die a quick death!
Re: the OP, is there a particular version of the story which you have learned, or are you just putting random points together that you've picked up on the way, or what? 
 

TheTrisagion

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Mor Ephrem said:
TheTrisagion said:
LBK said:
TheTrisagion said:
LBK said:
NicholasMyra said:
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
Why is the Virgin dwelling in the Holy of Holies any less believable than a man rising from the dead after four days and after his body had begun to stink? The raising of Lazarus is uncontroversial, so why should the Holy of Holies be so?
The raising of Lazarus is specifically noted as a miracle in Scripture. The story of the Virgin dwelling the Holy of Holies was never considered a miracles and it is not in Scripture. Thus, it is less credible.
The story of the Virgin in the Holy of Holies is one of the twelve major feasts of the Church. Belief in it is not optional. Indeed, of the other feasts of the Mother of God, only the Annunciation is mentioned in scripture. Does this mean that those other feasts are optional? Or that the Church made a mistake in holding these feasts in such high regard? Of course not.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.
No, its not.
What are you rejecting?
That the Theotokos dwelling in the Holy of Holies is a dogma of the Church.
 

rakovsky

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TheTrisagion said:
That the Theotokos dwelling in the Holy of Holies is a dogma of the Church.
It's one of the 12 Great Feasts.


Granted, "dogma" is less rigid in Orthodoxy, I think.
Some things though like the Nicene Creed are central though.
 

TheTrisagion

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Mor Ephrem said:
TheTrisagion said:
Mor Ephrem said:
What are you rejecting?
That the Theotokos dwelling in the Holy of Holies is a dogma of the Church.
I don't see where LBK made that particular claim.
LBK said:
TheTrisagion said:
LBK said:
NicholasMyra said:
Yeah that one is way less probable for me. As my priest said they would have killed her.
Why is the Virgin dwelling in the Holy of Holies any less believable than a man rising from the dead after four days and after his body had begun to stink? The raising of Lazarus is uncontroversial, so why should the Holy of Holies be so?
The raising of Lazarus is specifically noted as a miracle in Scripture. The story of the Virgin dwelling the Holy of Holies was never considered a miracles and it is not in Scripture. Thus, it is less credible.
The story of the Virgin in the Holy of Holies is one of the twelve major feasts of the Church. Belief in it is not optional. Indeed, of the other feasts of the Mother of God, only the Annunciation is mentioned in scripture. Does this mean that those other feasts are optional? Or that the Church made a mistake in holding these feasts in such high regard? Of course not.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.
That is how I understood her statements. She seems to equate the Feast of Presentation of the Theotokos with her dwelling in the Holy of Holies. If I misunderstood, I have no doubt that she will correct me.
 

LBK

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A major theme of the Entry into the Temple feast is indeed the dwelling of the young daughter of Sts Joachim and Anna in the Holy of Holies. The hymns for the feast are very clear on this. I am happy to post them if Mor approves.
 

TheTrisagion

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LBK said:
A major theme of the Entry into the Temple feast is indeed the dwelling of the young daughter of Sts Joachim and Anna in the Holy of Holies. The hymns for the feast are very clear on this. I am happy to post them if Mor approves.
To avoid sending this thread further off topic, perhaps it would be best to post them in the other thread where it would be on topic. I would be interesting in seeing the hymns you reference.
 

LBK

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Done.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23871.msg1342306.html#msg1342306

 

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Regarding the finding of the Holy Cross, I have no problem believing in it, even if there are some variations in detail among the different versions.

The story has been preserved by all the ancient Churches and all the versions of it have certain basic things in common:

St. Helen took a group with her to Jerusalem to find the Holy Cross.

The Cross was found buried under other things.

The authenticity of the Cross was confirmed by a miraculous healing.

If you put aside the various details from the different versions of the story, you have the above three basics, and they are really not that hard to believe if you are a Christian who believes in miracles.  I mean if we believe in the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, the above should not be that hard to swallow.

Just my two cents.
 

LBK

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Salpy said:
Regarding the finding of the Holy Cross, I have no problem believing in it, even if there are some variations in detail among the different versions.

The story has been preserved by all the ancient Churches and all the versions of it have certain basic things in common:

St. Helen took a group with her to Jerusalem to find the Holy Cross.

The Cross was found buried under other things.

The authenticity of the Cross was confirmed by a miraculous healing.

If you put aside the various details from the different versions of the story, you have the above three basics, and they are really not that hard to believe if you are a Christian who believes in miracles.  I mean if we believe in the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, the above should not be that hard to swallow.

Just my two cents.
This. Thank you.  :D
 

Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Fabio Leite said:
The story our priest tells involves no temples.

She would have her soldiers go around the hills and they decided to excavate on a certain hill where they had found lots of basil. They knew which cross was Christ's by bringing sick soldiers to the crosses and letting them touch the relics. Only one cross healed the sick and this one was considered to be the True Cross.

I don't know if the details are right - and probably are not - but I believe the core of the story to be true. She went there and found the True Cross which healed  soldiers.

As for how it could have survived intact all those years, see incorrupt bodies.
I think this is a good response to a good question.

Selam
 

Gebre Menfes Kidus

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rakovsky said:
Aram said:
I always look at these kinds of things the way a very wise priest once put it to me: "There are a lot of really wonderful stories in the Bible. Some of them may even be true."
I love it. What was his name? I want to find more quotes like this.
I don't care for stuff like this. I'm all for critiquing biblical literalism, but not in such a cheap manner. If we reduce the entire Bible to a bunch of fables and stories, some which may or may not be true, then we essentially cast aspersion on the essential doctrines of our Faith. If there was no literal Noah, no literal King David, and no literal prophets, then who's to say there was a literal Christ who was literally crucified and who literally rose from the dead?

Selam
 

Alveus Lacuna

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Salpy said:
If you put aside the various details from the different versions of the story, you have the above three basics, and they are really not that hard to believe if you are a Christian who believes in miracles.  I mean if we believe in the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, the above should not be that hard to swallow.
I suppose that I would make the point that half of the narratives in the Scriptures themselves aren't consistent, so why should something outside of them have consistency? We believe that the synoptic gospels got the celebration date of the Passover wrong, and that John's account is correct. Different events play out in different chronologies or even different ways in all of the gospels, in the Old Testament histories, etc.

This story is not that hard to believe if you are a Christian who believes in inconsistent texts and traditions, which we all do, so the above shouldn't be that hard to swallow!

/thread
 

Alveus Lacuna

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Thanks for letting me rant on here. Actually just typing out my thoughts on the matter has been pretty relieving, if nothing's been resolved. I found myself feeling better about the feast and its likelihood just by externalizing some of my doubts.
 

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Gebre Menfes Kidus said:
rakovsky said:
Aram said:
I always look at these kinds of things the way a very wise priest once put it to me: "There are a lot of really wonderful stories in the Bible. Some of them may even be true."
I love it. What was his name? I want to find more quotes like this.
I don't care for stuff like this. I'm all for critiquing biblical literalism, but not in such a cheap manner. If we reduce the entire Bible to a bunch of fables and stories, some which may or may not be true, then we essentially cast aspersion on the essential doctrines of our Faith. If there was no literal Noah, no literal King David, and no literal prophets, then who's to say there was a literal Christ who was literally crucified and who literally rose from the dead?

Selam
No one's saying Noah or David did not literally exist in some form, but some of the more fanciful tales are most likely allegorical. It's not about literal vs. figurative, that doesn't matter. What I was told in person by my priest years ago is that the Old Testament's main use is the Messiah prophecies and historical value it may serve.
 
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