Today the Church celebrates the feast of The Exaltation of the Cross. You’ll also hear the feast called, The Triumph of the Cross. Whatever we say, today recalls Saint Helena’s finding the True Cross of the Lord. A gift of the Church is to incrementally teach and live the various mysteries of the faith. And there is a wisdom in this method because we slowly come to incorporate ourselves into the Divine Life.
One of the antiphons for the sacred Liturgy says,
“We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection: through him we are saved and made free.”
As Pope Francis said this morning at Mass, this mystery can only be approached from the stance of prayer and tears.
The words spes unica come to mind. I learned these words when I was a student of the Brothers of the Holy Cross. They are the same words that the tradition of the Church indicates with the the phrase used when making the Stations of the Cross: We adore you O Christ and we bless you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
So, what do Christians mean in this feast, in exalting an object of Roman torture? The Cross is the key that unlocks true nature of love; the cross shows us that redemption is a serious matter; God’s work of redemption through the passion and death of Jesus on the cross is the greatest work of the Trinity in that death leads to resurrection –death is defeated by death itself– and communion with God is now possible again. Second, the Cross reminds us that God the Father is directly involved with our human history; it is not an abstract event; God knows us and walks with us.