Exaltation of the Cross

Today, in the Church calendar, the finding of the True Cross is commemorated in the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. The Mass is rich with references to the Holy Cross, the Cross of Our Savior, the Cross of our hero, Jesus Christ:

INTROIT Gal. 6:14
But it is fitting that we should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is salvation, life, and resurrection for us, by whom we are saved and delivered.
Ps. 66:2. May God have mercy on us and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us; and may He have mercy upon us.
V. Glory be . . .

O God, today’s feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross fills us each year with joy. May we, who have known its mystery on earth, also be worthy to enjoy in heaven the happiness which it has purchased for us. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord . . .

EPISTLE Philipp. 2:5-11
Brethren: For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause, God also hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.

GRADUAL Philipp. 2:8, 9
For us Christ became obedient to death, even to death on a cross.
V. Therefore God also has exalted Him and has bestowed upon Him the name that is above every name.

Alleluia, alleluia! V.
O sweet wood, O sweet nails! O precious the burden suspended thereon! You alone are worthy to bear the king and Lord of heaven. Alleluia!

GOSPEL John 12:31-36
At that time, Jesus said to the multitudes of the Jews,”Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.” (Now this he said, signifying what death he should die.) The multitude answered him: “We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever. And how sayest thou: The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?” Jesus therefore said to them: “Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, and the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither be goeth. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light.”

By the sign of the holy cross, O Lord, protect Your people from the deceits of their every foe, that our service may be pleasing to You and our offering acceptable, alleluia!

O Lord our God, we are preparing to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought honor to the symbol of the cross. We are privileged to venerate this same holy cross; grant that we may also enjoy for all eternity the salvation it has purchased for us. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord . . .

Deliver us from our enemies, O God, by the sign of the cross.

Be close to us, O Lord our God, and with Your unfailing help defend those who rejoice in the glory of Your holy cross. Through our Lord . . .

Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira writes on the Exaltation of the Cross:

“You know that in ancient times the cross was an instrument of torment. It was ignominious for any person to be crucified. It was a dishonor for the person, as well as for his family…When Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, therefore, he suffered a terrible humiliation. that shame was meant to signify that He was a bandit, an outlaw of the same genre of the two thieves with whom He was crucified. In this sense the crucifixion was not only a humiliation, but the highest possible humiliation for any honest man. You know that the Jews inflicted every humiliation they could upon Our Lord during His life. This corresponded to their increasing hatred for the good He represented. Finally, they served to Him the supreme humiliation, which was the sacrifice of the Cross… the crown of thorns, the tunic of the fool, the cane they placed in His hands as a scepter, the persons who ridiculed Him and spat at Him, etc., express the desire to torment Him not only in His Most Sacred Body, but also in His Most Holy Soul. The Cross of Our Lord became the starting point of all the humiliations that all Catholics would have to bear until the end times for the cause of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The forces of impiety never set aside their weapons against the good. They are always seeking to humiliate and break the morals of the good. None of you have been free from these humiliations because of your fidelity to Our Lord. It is an honor for us. To be persecuted for the love of Jesus Christ is one of the beatitudes. All of us had suffered these humiliations and will suffer them to the end of History because of the continuous outrages the impious ones make against God.

But, in parallel, the honor of God, the honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ, is vindicated by the Church. Catholics take the Cross as a symbol of honor, as the most sacred and holy thing we have, as the symbol of our redemption. Because of this sentiment, on the top of every Catholic church a Cross is placed; on the top of the most majestic crowns, the Cross is planted.

Many of the greatest families have the Cross on their coat-of-arms. Catholic decorations that reward the heroic deeds of a military man or the generosity of a great benefactor have the shape of the Cross.

These are manifestations of the Catholic spirit which vindicate that humiliation; they vindicate it with chivalric panache, with supernatural panache. With this special manifestation of love, that is, a reaction against the outrage of the enemies, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. To exalt the Holy Cross is to glorify it. The word ex-altare in Latin means to elevate, to raise to a high place, which is to glorify.

The first sign of this was the apparition of the Cross in the sky to Constantine before the battle of Milvia Bridge. Above that Cross was written these words In Hoc Signo Vinces – Under the sign of the Cross you will conquer. That Cross which appeared in the sky for the first time then would remain on the horizon of all mankind throughout History, humiliating the evil ones and the devils.

The Cross would also be the sign of our honor. Our honor does not lie in avoiding humiliations, but in receiving them with panache and a spirit of challenge. To those who humiliate us, we should respond as knights and we should glorify the Cross of Our Lord even more proudly.

This is what exaltation means. It is to proclaim the glory of God in the face of His enemies’ attempt to humiliate Him.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ is our hero, Our beloved Savior.

May we always boast in the Cross He loved so dearly, the victorious sign of our redemption.

May we be Friends of the Cross.

Have a good weekend.



•Image: Finding of the True Cross by Agnolo Gaddi, circa 1380, source