This Friday, September 14th the Church celebrates the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. This feast was observed in Rome before the end of the seventh century as a way to commemorate the recovery of the Holy Cross. It was placed on Mount Calvary by Saint Helena and preserved in Jerusalem, but had fallen into the hands of Chosroas, King of the Persians. This precious relic was recovered and returned to Jerusalem by Emperor Heralius in 629.
In lessons from the Breviary, we are told that the Emperor Heraclius carried the Cross back to Jerusalem on his shoulders. He was clothed in all his regal garments; however at the entrance to Mount Calvary a strange incident occurred. As hard as he tried, he could not go forward. Zacharias, the Bishop of Jerusalem, said to the astonished monarch: “Consider, O Emperor, that with these triumphal ornaments you are far from resembling Jesus carrying His Cross.” After this statement the Emperor put on penitential garb and was able to continue his journey.
The liturgy of the Cross is a triumphant liturgy. When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent over the people, it was a foreshadowing of the salvation through Jesus when He was lifted up on the Cross. As a result, the Church sings of the triumph of the Cross as an instrument of our redemption. Therefore, to follow Christ one must be willing to take up His cross, follow Him and become obedient until death, even if it means death on the cross. When we can identify with Christ on the Cross, then we can become co-redeemers by our sharing in His cross.
Furthermore, every time we make the Sign of the Cross before our prayers, it aides us to fix our minds and hearts on God. After our prayer we once again make the Sign of the Cross to remind us to always remain close to God during the day. The real significance of the Sign of the Cross is to realize that at the time of our Baptism we are sealed with the Sign of the Cross, which signifyies the fullness of redemption and that we belong to Christ.
We need to look to the cross frequently during our daily life, to enable us to realize that when we make the Sign of the Cross we give our entire self to God – mind, soul, heart, body, will, and thoughts.
O cross, you are the glorious sign of victory.
Through your power may we share in the triumph of Christ Jesus.
Fr. Peter Weiss, S.S.J.
PRAYER FOR FAMILIES
We bless your name, O Lord,
For sending your own incarnate Son,
To become part of a family,
So that, as he lived its life,
He would experience its worries and its joys.
We ask you Lord,
To protect and watch over this family,
So that in the strength of your grace
It members may enjoy prosperity,
Possess the priceless gift of your peace,
And, as the Church alive in the home,
Bear witness in this world to your glory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.