EXALTATION of the HOLY CROSS
Today, the universal Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a commemoration of two historical events – the discovery of the True Cross by the empress, Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, in the year 320, under the temple of Venus in Jerusalem; and the dedication in 335 of the basilica and shrine built on Calvary by Constantine which together mark the site of the actual Crucifixion, and also the Anastasis, a round church which Constantine built over the empty grave of Jesus.
The basilica, named the Martyrium, and the shrine, named the Calvarium, were destroyed by the Persian army in 614. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher which now stands on this site was built by the crusaders in 1149.
However this special Feast, more than anything else, is a celebration and commemoration of God’s greatest work – the salvific mission of Jesus Christ brought to fulfillment through His Death on the Cross and His Resurrection, through which death was defeated and the doors to Heaven opened, whereby man’s fractured relationship with God was forever mended and we became reconciled to our Heavenly Father for all eternity.
As a result, the Cross to which Christ had been nailed and on which He had died became for Christians, quite naturally and logically, the object of special veneration and respect.
Saint Paul tells us in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18).
The entrance antiphon at Mass for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross sets the tone for this celebration, “We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection; through him we are saved and made free.”
For more on the meaning of the Cross in our daily lives, please read today’s “Meditation for the Day”.
We celebrate this special Feastday on September 14.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross)
“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 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”