quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee,
for by thy cross thou hast redeemed the world.
Today, September 14, we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the sign of our Christianity, the source of our redemption, a vivid reminder of the sacrifice our Lord and Savior made for us upon Calvary. It is the sign of our freedom, the Sign of the Cross, with which we mark ourselves. At Baptism, we are sealed with the Sign of the Cross, signifying the fullness of redemption and that we belong to Christ. Throughout our lives, especially in times of trial and struggle, we look to the Sign of the Cross as our strength and protection. We make the Sign of the Cross before prayer fixing our minds and hearts to God. We make the Sign of the Cross at the conclusion of prayer to keep close to God. Rather than just a movement of our hands, let us remember today that our Sign of the Cross is a consecration to the Lord—a movement in which we give our entire self to God — mind, soul, heart, body, will, and thoughts, joyfully exclaiming:
“O cross, you are the glorious sign of victory.
Through your power may we share in the triumph of Christ Jesus.”
Today’s feast is a triumphant liturgy— a day in which red is worn to symbolize the glorious and saving sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. The Church sings of the triumph of the Cross—no longer an instrument of death and torture—but the powerful and glorious instrument of our redemption. To follow Christ we must take up His cross, follow Him and become obedient until death, even if it means death on the cross. We identify with Christ on the Cross and become co-redeemers, sharing in His cross.
Saint Justin Martyr spoke of the cross as the “standard symbol” of Christianity. By 211, Tertullian had taught his students that Christians should rarely do “anything of substance without first making the Sign of the Cross.” Tradition holds that this sign of our faith identifies our actions, and reminds us of Whom we belong to.
Saint Helena of Constantinople (mother of Roman Emperor Constantine I), is said to have discovered the True Cross upon which hung the Savior of the World in 326. She commissioned the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was built on the site of discovery and dedicated on September 14, 335. The most substantial piece of the True Cross was placed inside of the church. During the dedication, the practice of veneration of the cross was begun.
“Take care, O Emperor!” the Patriarch Zachary is reported to have said to him. “Certainly the imperial clothing you are wearing does not sufficiently resemble the poor and humiliated condition of Jesus carrying His cross.”
Heraclius was touched on hearing this, and removed his splendid jewel-covered robes and shoes. Donning a poor man’s tunic, he continued to Calvary and replaced the True Cross in the sanctuary of the church. During the course of the procession, numerous miracles occurred, and the people greatly rejoiced. From that year on, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was instituted.
“... For Christians the cross is magnification, glory, and power: for all our power is in the power of Christ who was crucified; all our sinfulness is mortified by the death of Christ on the cross; and all our exaltation and all our glory are in the humility of God, who humbled himself to such an extent that he was pleased to die even between evil-doers and thieves. For this very reason Christians who believe in Christ sign themselves with the sign of the cross not simply, not just as it happens, not carelessly, but with all heedfulness, with fear and with trembling, and with extreme reverence. For the image of the cross shows the reconciliation and friendship into which man has entered with God.
Therefore the demons also fear the image of the cross, and they do not endure to see the sign of the cross depicted even in the air, but they flee from this immediately knowing that the cross is the sign of the friendship of men with God...
Those who have understood this mystery and in very fact have known in experience the authority and power which the cross has over demons, have likewise understood that the cross gives the soul strength, power, meaning, and divine wisdom... To the degree of the reverence which one has toward the cross, he receives corresponding power and help from God. To him may there be glory and dominion for ever. Amen.”
“He who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake shall find it” (Mt 10:38,39). If we take up our own crosses, we unite ourselves more closely to Christ who offered His very self for our salvation. May we who take up our crosses likewise be exalted one day in the glory of eternal life with God.
"How splendid the cross of Christ! It brings life, not death; light, not darkness; Paradise, not its loss. It is the wood on which the Lord, like a great warrior, was wounded in hands and feet and side, but healed thereby our wounds. A tree has destroyed us, a tree now brought us life." (Saint Theodore of Studios).
God our Father,
in obedience to you your only Son accepted death on the Cross for the salvation of mankind.
We acknowledge the mystery of the Cross on earth. May we receive the gift of redemption in heaven.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
"O Crux, ave spes unica! Hail, O Cross, our only hope!
Dear Brothers and Sisters, we are invited to look upon the Cross. It is the “privileged place” where the love of God is revealed and shown to us.… On the Cross human misery and divine mercy meet. The adoration of this unlimited mercy is for man the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals.
The Cross is planted in the earth and would seem to extend its roots in human malice, but it reaches up, pointing as it were to the heavens, pointing to the goodness of God. By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted. O Crux, ave spes unica! …
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15), says Jesus. What do we see then when we bring our eyes to bear on the cross where Jesus was nailed (cf. John 19:37)? We contemplate the sign of God’s infinite love for humanity.
O Crux, ave spes unica! Saint Paul speaks of the same theme in the letter to the Ephesians…. Not only did Christ Jesus become man, in everything similar to human beings, but He took on the condition of a servant and humbled Himself even more by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (cf. Philippians 2:6-8).
Yes, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” (John 3:16). We admire — overwhelmed and gratified — the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge (cf. Ephesians 3:18-19)! O Crux, ave spes unica!
Through the mystery of your Cross and your Resurrection, save us O Lord! Amen.”
Year 2: Day 256 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Lives consecrated to Our Lord; Recognition of His sacrifice; Willingness to make our own sacrifices
Requested Intentions: Clear speech for a child (C); Conversion of a family (A); Successful employment (S); For the healing of impaired vision (F); For a couple experiencing difficulties (L); Successful employment after finishing college (M); Mother’s health (A); Financial security, freedom from anxiety (S); For a son and cousins (L); Peace and civility (B); Successful examination results (D); Safety of family, strength, courage, wisdom (C); For the souls of a departed father and brother, finding of a suitable marriage partner (R); Successful pilgrimage, deepening of prayer life (R); Restoration of health (J); Restoration of health (S); Freedom from pride (A); For children and marriage (M); For the birth of a healthy baby (Y); For personal family intentions, for the sick, poor, hungry, and homeless (G); Financial security and peace (J); Grace, peace, and obedience to the will of God in a marriage (H); Successful and blessed marriage for sin, freedom from anxiety for husband, spiritual contentedness for family (N); Employment and health for a husband (B); Recovery and health of a mother (J); For a family to grow closer to the Church, salvation for all children (D); Successful employment (L); Successful employment (S); Renewal of faith life (A); Support for an intended marriage, health for friend and aunt (J); Mental health assistance for son (G); Freedom from illness (S); Successful employment (C).