Holy Cross, Life-Giving Tree

Donnel O’Flynn, with illustrations by Aidan O’Flynn

Jul/2017, 192 Pages, PAPERBACK, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9780819233677



A historical perspective of the image of the cross as one of life instead of death

Holy Cross, Life-Giving Tree explores the Cross as a metaphor of new creation rather than an instrument of death by exploring the roots of the Life-Giving Tree deep in Church tradition, worship, and art.  It uses Hildegard of Bingen's concept of virditas—"green-ness"—as a way to know experience the Cross in daily life and claim the Cross as healer of division, both among followers of Jesus and among the nations. Illustrated with images of the Cross from across the Christian world, the book compares Eastern Christian liturgies of the Cross with those of the West, recounts the origins of the early cults of the Cross in Jerusalem, and invites readers to meditate on Scripture passages used by ancient artists. Each of its six chapters ends with reflection questions. This book designed for use by both individuals and groups.

Read the introduction

Donnel O’Flynn retired in 2015 after 30 years of parish ministry in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Central New York. With his wife, Janet, he lived in Haiti for a year as an Episcopal Volunteer in Mission, and now resides in his home state of Montana, where he is part-time rector at Christ Church in Kalispell. A Clergy Refresher Leave grant from the Lilly Foundation in 2010 allowed him to see the splendid carved crosses of Ireland and Armenia in person. His quest to understand their iconography eventually led him to an encounter with the Cross as the Tree of Life, and the desire to share this vision with others.

“Through a clever weaving of art, history, and theology, we are given a presentation of the cross of Jesus as a way into life. It can jump-start intriguing conversations on what we believe the cross event means for the people of God, and it can serve as part of an answer to our prayer, ‘that we, walking in the way of the cross, may we find it none other than the way of life and peace. . . .’”
—The Rt. Rev. Gladstone B. Adams III, Bishop Provisional, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina

“This book is well suited for personal and group study and reflection, and can only expand and deepen our understanding and reverence for this central symbol of our faith.”
—Phoebe Griswold, Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross

“O’Flynn’s discoveries reveal the unexpected vista of an evangelism that is joyful and inclusive, and open an unforeseen path to social justice work rooted in reconciliation. This winsome book gives unexpected waybread for parish life, worship, and social action.”
—Ariel Miller, social justice worker and reporter in the Diocese of Southern Ohio

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  • Holy Cross Day
  • Hildegard of Bingen
  • history

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