Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

OPENING PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

our lives are in your hands.

You work to bring good out of evil,

healing out of pain

and grace out of sinfulness.

As we make our way through

life’s ups and downs

give us trust in your providence,

hope in your justice,

and confidence in your love,

so that we can see your healing hand at work

in our lives and in the lives of those we serve.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen

COLLECT

O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son

should undergo the Cross to save the human race,

grant, we pray,

that we, who have known his mystery on earth,

may merit the grace of his redemption in heaven.

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.

READING I

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Nm 21:4b-9

 

 

With their patience worn out by the journey,

the people complained against God and Moses,

“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,

where there is no food or water?

We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,

which bit the people so that many of them died.

Then the people came to Moses and said,

“We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.

Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.”

So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,

“Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,

and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.”

Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,

and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent

looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2130 Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.1

1 Cf. Num 21:4-9; Wis 16:5-14; Jn 3:14-15; Ex 25:10-22; 1 Kings 6:23-28; 7:23-26.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Hearken, my people, to my teaching;

incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth in a parable,

I will utter mysteries from of old.

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

While he slew them they sought him

and inquired after God again,

Remembering that God was their rock

and the Most High God, their redeemer.

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

But they flattered him with their mouths

and lied to him with their tongues,

Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him,

nor were they faithful to his covenant.

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

But he, being merciful, forgave their sin

and destroyed them not;

Often he turned back his anger

and let none of his wrath be roused.

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

READING II

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Phil 2:6-11

Brothers and sisters:

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

coming in human likeness;

and found human in appearance,

he humbled himself,

becoming obedient to death,

even death on a cross.

Because of this, God greatly exalted him

and bestowed on him the name

that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that

Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 201 To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”1 Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the one and only God: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. .. To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. ‘Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength.’”2

CCC 411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.3 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.4

CCC 434 Jesus’ Resurrection glorifies the name of the Savior God, for from that time on it is the name of Jesus that fully manifests the supreme power of the “name which is above every name”.5 The evil spirits fear his name; in his name his disciples perform miracles, for the Father grants all they ask in this name.6

CCC 449 By attributing to Jesus the divine title “Lord”, the first confessions of the Church’s faith affirm from the beginning that the power, honor and glory due to God the Father are due also to Jesus, because “he was in the form of God”,7 and the Father manifested the sovereignty of Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him into his glory.8

CCC 461 Taking up St. John’s expression, “The Word became flesh”,9 the Church calls “Incarnation” the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.10

CCC 472 This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man”,11 and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience.12 This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.13

CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”14 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.15 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”16

CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,17 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”18 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.19 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.20 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”21

CCC 633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.22 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:23 “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.”24 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.25

CCC 635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”26 Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.”27 Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”28

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. .. He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him – He who is both their God and the son of Eve. .. “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. .. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”29

CCC 705 Disfigured by sin and death, man remains “in the image of God,” in the image of the Son, but is deprived “of the glory of God,”30 of his “likeness.” The promise made to Abraham inaugurates the economy of salvation, at the culmination of which the Son himself will assume that “image”31 and restore it in the Father’s “likeness” by giving it again its Glory, the Spirit who is “the giver of life.”

CCC 713 The Messiah’s characteristics are revealed above all in the “Servant songs.”32 These songs proclaim the meaning of Jesus’ Passion and show how he will pour out the Holy Spirit to give life to the many: not as an outsider, but by embracing our “form as slave.”33 Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.

CCC 876 Intrinsically linked to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry is its character as service. Entirely dependent on Christ who gives mission and authority, ministers are truly “slaves of Christ,”34 in the image of him who freely took “the form of a slave” for us.35 Because the word and grace of which they are ministers are not their own, but are given to them by Christ for the sake of others, they must freely become the slaves of all.36

CCC 908 By his obedience unto death,37 Christ communicated to his disciples the gift of royal freedom, so that they might “by the self-abnegation of a holy life, overcome the reign of sin in themselves”:38

That man is rightly called a king who makes his own body an obedient subject and, by governing himself with suitable rigor, refuses to let his passions breed rebellion in his soul, for he exercises a kind of royal power over himself. And because he knows how to rule his own person as king, so too does he sit as its judge. He will not let himself be imprisoned by sin, or thrown headlong into wickedness.39

CCC 1224 Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to “fulfill all righteousness.”40 Jesus’ gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying.41 The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his “beloved Son.”42

CCC 1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.”43 Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods,”44 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.”45 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.46

CCC 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”47 Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.48 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.49

CCC 2812 Finally, in Jesus the name of the Holy God is revealed and given to us, in the flesh, as Savior, revealed by what he is, by his word, and by his sacrifice.50 This is the heart of his priestly prayer: “Holy Father. .. for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”51 Because he “sanctifies” his own name, Jesus reveals to us the name of the Father.52 At the end of Christ’s Passover, the Father gives him the name that is above all names: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”53

1 Dt 6:45.

2 Is 45:22-24; cf. Phil 2:10-11.

3 Cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22,45; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:19-20.

4 Cf. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573.

5 Phil 2:9-10; cf. Jn 12:28.

6 Cf. Acts 16:16-18; 19:13-16; Mk 16:17; Jn 15:16.

7 Cf. Acts 2:34 – 36; Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13; Rev 5:13; Phil 2:6.

8 Cf. Rom 10:9; I Cor 12:3; Phil 2:9-11.

9 Jn 1:14.

10 Phil 2:5-8; cf. LH, Saturday, Canticle at Evening Prayer.

11 Lk 2:52.

12 Cf. Mk 6 38; 8 27; Jn 11:34; etc.

13 Phil 2:7.

14 I Pt 1:18-20.

15 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.

16 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.

17 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.

18 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.

19 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.

20 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.

21 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.

22 Cf. Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13.

23 Cf. Ps 89:49; I Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26.

24 Roman Catechism 1, 6, 3.

25 Cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; Mt 27:52-53.

26 Jn 5:25; cf. Mt 12:40; Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9.

27 Heb 2:14-15; cf. Acts 3:15.

28 Rev 1:18; Phil 2:10.

29 Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR.

30 Rom 3:23.

31 Cf. Jn 1:14; Phil 2:7.

32 Cf. Isa 42:1-9; cf. Mt 12:18-21; Jn 1:32-34; then cf. Isa 49:1-6; cf. Mt 3:17; Lk 2:32; finally cf. Isa 50:4-10 and Isa 52:13-53:12.

33 Phil 2:7.

34 Cf. Rom 1:1.

35 Phil 2:7.

36 Cf. 1 Cor 9:19.

37 Cf. Phil 2:8-9.

38 LG 36.

39 St. Ambrose, Psal 118:14:30: PL 15:1476.

40 Mt 3:15.

41 Cf. Phil 2:7.

42 Mt 3:16-17.

43 Ps 51:4.

44 Gen 3:5.

45 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 14, 28: PL 41, 436.

46 Cf. Phil 2:6-9.

47 Eph 5:19; Col 3:16.

48 Cf. Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 5:14; 1 Tim 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim 2:11-13.

49 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.

50 Cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31, Jn 8:28; 17:8; 17:17-19.

51 Jn 17:11, 19.

52 Cf. Ezek 20:39; 36:20-21; Jn 17:6.

53 Phil 2:9-11.

GOSPEL

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Jn 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

“No one has gone up to heaven

except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,

so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,

so that everyone who believes in him might not perish

but might have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,

but that the world might be saved through him.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 219 God’s love for Israel is compared to a father’s love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother’s for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”1

CCC 423 We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the eternal Son of God made man. He ‘came from God’,2 ‘descended from heaven’,3 and ‘came in the flesh’.4 For ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. .. And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.’5

CCC 440 Jesus accepted Peter’s profession of faith, which acknowledged him to be the Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man.6 He unveiled the authentic content of his messianic kingship both in the transcendent identity of the Son of Man “who came down from heaven”, and in his redemptive mission as the suffering Servant: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”7 Hence the true meaning of his kingship is revealed only when he is raised high on the cross.8 Only after his Resurrection will Peter be able to proclaim Jesus’ messianic kingship to the People of God: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”9

CCC 444 The Gospels report that at two solemn moments, the Baptism and the Transfiguration of Christ, the voice of the Father designates Jesus his “beloved Son”.10 Jesus calls himself the “only Son of God”, and by this title affirms his eternal pre-existence.11 He asks for faith in “the name of the only Son of God”.12 In the centurion’s exclamation before the crucified Christ, “Truly this man was the Son of God”,13 that Christian confession is already heard. Only in the Paschal mystery can the believer give the title “Son of God” its full meaning.

CCC 458 The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”14 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”15

CCC 661 This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who “came from the Father” can return to the Father: Christ Jesus.16 “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.”17 Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness.18 Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.19

CCC 679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given “all judgment to the Son”.20 Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself.21 By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.22

CCC 706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.23 In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,24 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”25 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and “the promised Holy Spirit. .. [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.”26

CCC 2130 Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.27

CCC 2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father’s house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,28 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.29 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,30 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.31

1 Jn 3:16; cf. Hos 11:1; Is 49:14-15; 62: 4-5; Ezek 16; Hos 11.

2 Jn 13:3.

3 Jn 3:13; 6:33.

4 1 Jn 4:2.

5 Jn 1:14,16.

6 Cf. Mt 16:16-23.

7 Jn 3:13; Mt 20:28; cf. Jn 6:62; Dan 7:13; Is 53:10-12.

8 Cf. Jn 19:19-22; Lk 23:39-43.

9 Acts 2:36.

10 Cf. Mt 3:17; cf. 17:5.

11 Jn 3:16; cf. 10:36.

12 Jn 3:18.

13 Mk 15:39.

14 I Jn 4:9.

15 Jn 3:16.

16 Cf. Jn 16:28.

17 Jn 3:13; cf. Eph 4:8-10.

18 Jn 14:2.

19 Missale Romanum, Preface of the Ascension: sed ut illuc confideremus, sua membra, nos subsequi quo ipse, caput nostrum principiumque, praecessit.

20 Jn 5:22; cf. 5:27; Mt 25:31; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim 4:1.

21 Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20.

22 Cf. Jn 3:17; 5:26. 588 Cf. Jn 3:18; 12:48; Mt 12:32; I Cor 3:12-15; Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-31.

23 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38. 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21.

24 Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16.

25 Cf. In 11:52.

26 Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14.

27 Cf. Num 21:4-9; Wis 16:5-14; Jn 3:14-15; Ex 25:10-22; 1 Kings 6:23-28; 7:23-26.

28 Cf. Gen 3.

29 Jer 3:19-4:1a; Lk 15:18, 21.

30 Cf. Isa 45:8; Ps 85:12.

31 Jn 3:13; 12:32; 14 2-3; 16:28; 20:17; Eph 4:9-10; Heb 1:3; 2:13.

APPLICATION

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

— Pope John Paul II — Excerpts from homily September 14, 2003

What it Means to Exalt the Cross

In A.D. 326, St. Helena, the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, discovered the true cross of Jesus near the site that generations had venerated as the Mount of Crucifixion. Upon discovering the cross, everyone fell to their knees and cried out, “Lord, have mercy!” A church was built on the site—the Church of the Holy Sepulcher—and the cross was placed in a prominent position within the building. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335, and the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross was celebrated annually on the following day, September 14th.

About three hundred years later, the cross was taken as plunder by the Persian emperor Khosrau II but was reclaimed fourteen years later by the Roman emperor Heraclius, who brought it to Constantinople where it was once again triumphantly exalted.

This short history lesson has some resemblance to the way we live out our faith. For instance, when we see the glory of the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we rejoice. With grateful hearts we say, “Lord, I love you; have mercy on me.” But then we lose sight of this gift of salvation. Without even realizing it, we let the cross get buried underneath our many priorities and responsibilities.

Then, when we are touched, maybe by a tragic event, by a book we read, or by a moving homily at Mass, we “excavate” the cross and exalt it once more. We give it a place of prominence in the sanctuary of our hearts. But then we lose our focus and let our guard down. A stronger foe conquers us and steals the joy of the cross from us. Finally, with newfound determination we take the cross back and we say once more, “Jesus, I exalt your cross. I make it my foundation. Lord, have mercy on me!”

May we all do our best to exalt the cross and make it the first foundation of our lives!

“Lord, as I lift up the cross, I ask you to have mercy on me.”

Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition http://www.wau.org.

BENEDICTUS

The Sign of the Cross

The most basic Christian gesture of prayer is and always will be the sign of the cross. It is a way of confessing Christ crucified with one’s very body… To seal oneself with the sign of the cross is a visible and public Yes to him who suffered for us; to him who in the body has made God’s love visible, even to the utmost; to the God who reigns not by destruction but by the humility of suffering and love, which is stronger than all the power of the world and wiser than all the calculating intelligence of men. The sign of the cross is a confession of faith: I believe in him who suffered for me and rose again; in him who has transformed the sign of shame into the sign of hope and of the love of God that is present with us. The confession of faith is a confession of hope: I believe in him who in his weakness is the Almighty; in him who can and will save me even in apparent absence and impotence. By signing ourselves with the cross, we place ourselves under the protection of the cross, hold it in front of us like a shield that will guard us in all the distress of daily life and give us the courage to go on. We accept it as a signpost that we follow… The cross shows us the road of life – the imitation of Christ … Whenever we make the sign of the cross, we accept our Baptism anew; Christ from the cross draws us, so to speak, to himself … We make the sign of the cross on ourselves and thus enter the power of the blessing of Jesus Christ. We make the sign over people to whom we wish a blessing … Through the cross, we can become sources of blessing for one another.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

God thank you for the gift of salvation through your Son on the cross.

Help us to be consumed by the power of the cross, t

he forgiveness, mercy, hope and love to fuel our actions

embedded with compassion and the humbleness of servants.

When we see condemnation in the world,

percolating from our actions or the acts of other,

help us to realize your only desire for us is to manifest the love

from the gift of your Son.

Help us never to shrink from this path,

but continually transform our minds and hearts

to courageously live this journey into eternity.

We pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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