September 13, 2016

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Exaltation of the Holy Cross
September 14th, is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It remembers the retrieval of the Holy Cross, which had been found and preserved by Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine, (with the assistance of Patriarch Saint Macarius) but had fallen into the hands of King Khosrau of Persia. Emperor Heraclius recovered the sacred relic and returned it to Jerusalem in 629.

The feast commemorates three distinct historical events: the finding of the True Cross, its return in the 7th century, and its ineffable power as the instrument of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice and our salvation. Regarding the later, our Savior's crucifixion imbues human suffering with dignity and divine purpose. Here is a reflection by Father René Butler, M.S., from his homily on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross:

"Today’s feast is called the Exaltation, that is, the 'Lifting High' of the Holy Cross. Moses 'lifted up' the bronze serpent, and those who looked at it lived. Jesus was 'lifted up' on the cross, humbling himself, becoming obedient to death, uniting his will to that of the Father and loving the world just as much as the Father did, 'so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.'

And there’s more.

In the Third Eucharistic Prayer, at the Consecration of the bread, the priest says:
For on the night he was betrayed
he himself took bread,
and, giving you thanks, he said the blessing,
broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take this, all of you, and eat of it,
for this is my Body,
which will be given up for you.
Following the same idea as with the New Testament passages quoted above, this could be translated just as accurately, 'For on the night he was handed over he... broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying: ... This is my Body, which will be handed over for you.'

When you see the Host 'lifted up' at the Consecration, always remember: God so loved the world then, God so loves the world today."

O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son should undergo the Cross to save humanity, grant, we pray, that we, who have known his mystery on earth, may merit the grace of his redemption. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.