Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross


Saint Helena, mother of fourth century Roman Emperor Constantine, travelled to Jerusalem to search out the holy places of Jesus’s life. On her journeys she located the Saviors tomb, which was beneath Temple of Aphrodite, and had the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher built over the tomb. During the excavation workers located the three crosses. According to the Legend, the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman. That is a much abbreviated explanation of the feast day: it celebrates the cross of Christ…
The contradiction of the cross is that it is the symbol of torturous death which has become the symbol of salvation : Its vertical beam as a reminder of the relationship between God and Man, its horizontal Christs reaching out to the brotherhood of man. Its symbol of death , our death to sin, and its symbol of salvation , our salvation through Christ :Through that cross we, are baptized into Christ. The Franciscan habit takes on this symbology as when the friar’s hands are outstretched the habit forms the shape of this cross, as do all when they pray with outstreached arms; just as Jesus stretched out his arms to us while on that cross.                                                                             

Why the exaltation of that cross, why the celebration of an instrument of suffering, why after the removal of the saviors body even a second thought about those two pieces of timber? Without Christ upon it, what is left? When Christ was upon it, it was touched by Christ, and in that itself it has become blessed. For on an ordinary cross it is only death that hangs upon it, but in the cross of Christ an instrument s born that brings about a new life. A cross of death indeed becomes a tree of life. Hanging on that cross is the death of suffering and sin. On it rests our mistakes, our failures, our regrets, our prides, our jealousy’s, our human frailties; and in hanging them there a new life is resurrected. The new life in Christ and that is not borne in an ordinary cross; it does not come from two ordinary sticks. That only comes from the cross of Christ. The cross that was touched by Christ and the cross that reaches out to us….


We adore You, O Christ, and praise You,
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

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