Feastday September 14th
On this day, the Church commemorates
the redempion of the relic of the Holy Cross,
in 629 AD, by Heraclius, King of Judea,
after he defeated Chosroes, King of Persia,
who had captured it in 614 AD.
On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross we honor the Holy Cross
by which Christ redeemed the world.
The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century,
according to early accounts, beginning with the miraculous discovery of the cross
on September 14, 326, by St. Helen, mother of Constantine,
while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
St. Helen, when she had discovered the holy cross,
"adored not the wood, but the King,
Him who hung on the wood.
She burned with an earnest desire of touching the remedy of immortality."
These are the words of St. Ambrose.
Part of the cross she recommended to the care of the Bishop Macarius,
and covered it with a rich silver case,
of which the Bishop of Jerusalem was the guardian,
and which he every year exposed to the adoration of the people,
says St. Paulinus.
She built a most sumptuous church on the spot to receive this precious relic.
The other part of the cross she sent to her son the emperor, at Constantinople,
where it was covered and exposed to the veneration of the people
with the greatest solemnity.
Of the nails, one she put in a bridle, another in a diadem for her son, says St. Ambrose.
A third she threw into the Adriatic gulf in a storm; on which account
the sailors entered on that sea as sanctified, with fastings, prayer,
and singing hymns to this day, says St. Gregory of Tours."
The observance of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
has been celebrated by Christians on September 14 ever since.
In the Western Church, the feast came into prominence in the seventh century,
apparently inspired by the recovery of a portion of the cross,
said to have been taken from Jerusalem the Persians,
by the Roman emperor Heraclius in 629.
The Cross is the guardian
of the whole world;
the Cross is the beauty of the Church,
the Cross is the might of kings;
the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful,
the Cross is the glory of angels and the wounding of demons."
Before the time of Christ, the cross was an instrument of punishment;
it evoked fear and aversion.
But after Christ's death on the Cross it became the instrument of our salvation.
Through the Cross, Christ destroyed the POWER OF THE DEVIL OVER SOULS;
from the Cross He descended into Hades and,
having liberated those languishing there,
led them into the Kingdom of Heaven.
The sign of the Cross is terrifying to demons and, as the sign of Christ,
it is honored by ALL Christians.
Christians "exalt" the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation.
Adoration of the Cross is, thus, adoration of Jesus Christ,
the God Man, who suffered and died on this Roman instrument of torture
for our redemption from sin and death.
The cross represents the One Sacrifice by which Jesus, obedient even unto death, accomplished our salvation.
The cross is a symbolic summary of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection
of Christ -- all in one image.
The cross is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith.
It has inspired both liturgical and private devotions:
the Sign of the Cross which is an invocation of the Holy Trinity,
the "little" Sign of the Cross on head, lips and heart at the reading of the Gospel,
praying the Stations (or Way) of the Cross,
and the Veneration of the Cross by the faithful on Good Friday
by kissing the feet of the image of Our Savior crucified.
Placing a crucifix in churches and homes, in classrooms , hospitals
and in other institutions, or wearing this image on our persons,
is a constant reminder and witness
of Christ's ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death
through His suffering and dying on the Cross.
We remember Our Lord's words,
"He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it."
(Matt. 10:38, 39)
Meditating on these words we unite ourselves
our souls and bodies, minds and hearts,
with His obedience and His sacrifice;
and we rejoice in this inestimable gift
through which we have the hope of salvation and the glory.
Behold, O Kind and most sweet Jesus,
before Thy face I humbly kneel,
and with the most fervent desire of soul,
I pray and beseech Thee to impress upon my heart
lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity,
true contrition for my sins and a firm purpose of amendment.
With deep affection and grief of soul,
I ponder within myself, mentally contemplating Thy five wounds,
having before my eyes the words
which David the Prophet spoke concerning Thee:
"They have pierced my hands and my feet,
they have numbered all my bones."