Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

On September 14 Holy Mother Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, which commemorates three events: the finding of the True Cross in the 4th century by St. Helena, the dedication of the basilica built by St. Helena and Constantine over the Holy Sepulchre, and the rescuing of the Holy Cross from the Persians in 629. On this feast we exalt the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation. Exalting the Cross is thus adoration of Jesus Christ who suffered, died, and rose for our redemption.

"We are celebrating the feast of the cross which drove away darkness and brought in the light. As we keep this feast, we are lifted up with the crucified Christ, leaving behind us earth and sin so that we may gain the things above. So great and outstanding a possession is the cross that he who wins it has won a treasure. Rightly could I call this treasure the fairest of all fair things and the costliest, in fact as well as in name, for on it and through it and for its sake the riches of salvation that had been lost were restored to us.

Had there been no cross, Christ could not have been crucified. Had there been no cross, life itself could not have been nailed to the tree. And if life had not been nailed to it, there would be no streams of immortality pouring from Christ’s side, blood and water for the world’s cleansing. The legal bond of our sin would not be cancelled, we should not have attained our freedom, we should not have enjoyed the fruit of the tree of life and the gates of paradise would not stand open. Had there been no cross, death would not have been trodden underfoot, nor hell despoiled.

Therefore, the cross is something wonderfully great and honourable. It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation – very many indeed, for both his miracles and his sufferings were fully rewarded with victory. The cross is honourable because it is both the sign of God’s suffering and the trophy of his victory. It stands for his suffering because on it he freely suffered unto death. But it is also his trophy because it was the means by which the devil was wounded and death conquered; the barred gates of hell were smashed, and the cross became the one common salvation of the whole world... ."
---St. Andrew of Crete

While we remember our Lord's Cross and Sacrifice done out of love for us, let us also think of our own crosses and lovingly embrace them as a means to grow closer to God. Instead of complaining of our crosses and trials, we need to ask ourselves, as St. Josemaria Escriva suggests, “...what is this compared to what I deserve?” On this feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, let us attempt to offer up each of our crosses to God, laying them at the foot of the Cross. In this way we may change each struggle of our day into a prayer to our Lord who loves us and asks us to take up our cross daily and follow Him. The following hymn, which is sung on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and during Holy Week was penned by Venantius Fortunatus and is considered one of the greatest hymns of the Church's liturgy.

Forth comes the Standard of the King:
All hail, thou Mystery ador'd!
Hail, Cross! On which the Life Himself Died,
and by death our life restor'd!

On which our Saviour's holy side
Rent open with a cruel spear
Of blood and water poured a stream,
To wash us from defilement clear.

O sacred wood! In Thee fulfill'd
Was holy David's truthful lay!
Which told the world, that from a tree
The Lord should all the nations sway.

Most royally empurpled o'er
How beauteously thy stem doth shine!
How glorious was its lot to touch
Those limbs so holy and divine!

Thrice blest, upon whose arms outstretched
The Saviour of the world reclined;
Balance sublime! Upon whose beam
Was weighed the ransom of mankind.

Hail, Cross! Thou only hope of man,
Hail, on this holy Passionday!
To saints increase the grace they have;
From sinners purge their guilt away.

Salvation's spring, blest Trinity,
Be praise to Thee through earth and skies:
Though through the Cross the victory
Dost give; oh, also give the prize!

Vexílla Regis pródeunt:
Fúlget Crucis mystérium,
Qua vita mortem pértulit,
Et morte vitam prótulit.

Quæ vulneráta lánceæ
Mucróne diro críminum
Ut nos laváret sórdibus,
Manávit unda et sánguine.

Impléta sunt quæ cóncinit,
David fidéli cármine;
Dicéndo natiónibus:
Regnávit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decóra et fúlgida,
Ornáta Regis púrpura,
Elécta digno stípite,
Tam sancta membra tángere.

Beáta, cujus bráchiis,
Prétium pepéndit sæculi:
Statéra facta córporis,
Tulítque prædam tártari.

O crux, ave, spes única;
Hoc Passiónis témpore,
Piis adáuge grátiam,
Reísque dele crÍmina.

Te, fons salútis, Trínitas,
Colláudet omnis spíritus:
Quibus Crucis victóriam
Largíris, adde præmium.
--St. Andrew's Daily Missal

Christ Carrying the Cross by Tiepolo

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!!!

God bless!

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