Exaltation of the Cross

Post Date: September 10, 2021
Author: Laura Stephens

For you placed the salvation of the human race
on the wood of the Cross,
so that, where death arose, life might again spring forth
and the evil one, who conquered on a tree,
might likewise on a tree be conquered,
through Christ our Lord.
(Preface for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Mass)

September 14 is known as the feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This day recognizes both the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother, as well as the dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher which tradition tells us is the place of the Crucifixion, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus.

This feast dedicated to the Cross of Jesus reminds us of the significance that this symbol has for our faith and eternal life. The cross is beautifully such a commonplace symbol for a Christian in our homes, jewelry, and art. But its importance and wonder can sometimes be numbed to us.

“The cross is a sign of suffering, a sign of human cruelty at its worst. But by Christ’s love shown in the Paschal Mystery, it has become the sign of triumph and victory, the sign of God, who is love itself.” (The Exaltation)

It is through a tree in the Garden of Eden that sin entered the world, but it is through the Cross made from a tree that God enabled us to receive eternal life through Christ’s love. When we look at a Cross, we should have sadness, fear, awe, and wonder at how God can turn such a horrific object into a life-saving gift. Let us take time today to reflect on the Cross and its meaning for our lives.

Simple ways to honor this feast day at home can be:

  • Take time to pray before a cross or crucifix (a cross with Jesus’s body present to remind us of His sacrifice).
  • Decorate a cross at home to bring special honor for the day.
  • Do some cross crafts with your children.
  • Pray with extra care the Sign of the Cross throughout the day as it is Simply Powerful prayer by itself.
  • Read about St. Helena and her love for Christ’s cross in a saint book you have at home or watch this family-friendly short video on St. Helena or read the wonderful book St. Helena and the True Cross by Louis de Wohl that you can download as a Kindle book on formed.org.
  • Take a virtual pilgrimage and watch A Video Tour inside The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

O cross, you are the glorious sign of our victory. Through your power may we share in the triumph of Christ Jesus.  Prayer of Christians from Saints and Feast Days, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio (The Exaltation)

References:

Preface for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Mass retrieved from http://www.ibreviary.com/m2/messale.php?s=prefazio&id=486

“The Exaltation of the Holy Cross” article retrieved from https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/saints/saints-stories-for-all-ages/triumph-of-the-cross/

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