Monday, 14 September 2009

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

This day we celebrate the lifting up of the Holy Cross. In fact, by this feast we commemorate three past events.
The first is the day in AD326 when St Helen and St Macarius found the true Cross near Calvary where the first generation of Christians hid it during the early persecutions.

St Macarius, bishop of Jerusalem, and St Helen, as they found the cross on 3 May 326 which led to the dedication of the Anastasis and Martyrium on 14 September of the same year.

The second event celebrated is the consecration of the Basilica of the Anastatsis (Holy Sepulchre) and the one of the Martyrium (Calvary) in AD326.
The third event celebrated is the day in AD 629 when the Christians took back from the hands of the Persians a relic of the True Cross which they stole earlier from the Basilica of the Anastasis.
In all three cases there is a sort of elevation of the Holy Cross, a triumph over the forces of darkness.

A relic of the true cross at Westminster Cathedral

For us this day has deeper meanings then the historical ones. We remember the need to keep in front of us like a compass (or should I say a Satnav?) the Holy Cross. The cross becomes our joy and our gate to be in complete union with Christ. By the cross we were marked as we entered the world, the cross will be the last mark we receive in this life, under its shadow we hope to be buried and under its wings we strive to live all our earthly life. As we meditate the glorious cross we hope to be found worthy to lift it up through our Christian lives and bring light where there is darkness, the triumph of the cross over the forces of the evil one.
Let us indeed: “Lift high the crosses, the love of Christ proclaim, till all the world adore His sacred Name!”

St Helen, lifting high the cross!

And finally, to all my brother priests of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC), who live in the peace that comes from the Cross, a happy and holy feast day.

Procession with the relic of the True Cross with red humeral veil and red canopy.

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