The two feasts of the "Procession of the Honorable Wood of the Honorable and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord" and the celebration of the "All-Merciful Savior Christ God and His Mother the Most Holy Theotokos, Mary" are combined in some menaions, but not all. The two feasts are given equal honor. This gives cause to suppose that these two feasts are not distinct and are essentially one and the same feast, known by two different names. This, however, is a totally wrong assumption. That becomes clear and undoubted if we take a look at the essence and reason for instituting these two different feasts.
Brothers and sisters, today is the Procession of the Cross which we celebrate on the first of August, and also the holy Maccabean martyrs with their teacher Eleazar and their mother Solomonia. St. Paul has two famous phrases that are in one of the epistles we read today—a very misunderstood phrase. Let’s talk about what it really means.
Because of the Blessing of Water, this first Feast of the Savior in August is sometimes called ‘Savior of the Water.” There may also be a Blessing of New Honey today, which is why the Feast is also called “Savior of the Honey.” From this day the newly gathered honey is blessed and tasted.
Again, by God’s mercy, we are entering the Dormition fast. This is the shortest and sweetest of the fasts. It begins with the blessing of honey, and then the blessing of the fruits. This fast is also the lightest, because the Mother of God takes care that the yoke of Christ would be light for us. She takes care for our bodies as well as our souls.
On August 1/12, the Dormition fast begins with the feast of the Procession of the Honorable Wood of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross, commemorating a tradition that began in Constantinople. How did the True Cross come to Byzantium, and what did this mean for that great Christian city?