Tag Archives: cross

Blessing of Basil on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

I am giving emphasis these days on knowing what we believe as Catholics by looking at the liturgical sources. We first go to the sacred Liturgy to study and pray the prayers prayed by the priest for Mass, Lauds, Vespers, or those smaller rites such as the Blessing of Basil that you would find on today’s feast of the Holy Cross, also called the Roodmas. Ours is a richly endowed sacramental faith.

“The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which, the day after the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection raised over the tomb of Christ, is exalted and honored, in the manner of a memorial of His paschal victory and the sign which is to appear in the sky, already announcing in advance His second coming” (from the Roman Martyrology).

basil3.jpg
The Blessing of Basil

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God, deign, we beseech You, to bless + Your creature, this aromatic basil leaf. Even as it delights our senses, may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King and the power of His Precious Blood to purify and preserve us from evil so that, planted beneath His Cross, we may flourish to Your glory and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice. Who is Lord forever and ever.

R. Amen.

The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy Water.

Some account for the connection between the herb basil and the Cross as follows:

The herb, basil has long been associated with today’s feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The word “basil” is related to basileios, from the Greek word for king.

According to the liturgical legend, the Empress Saint Helena found the location of the True Cross by digging for it under a colony of basil. Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up at the foot of the Cross where fell the Precious Blood of Christ and the tears of the Mother of Sorrows.

A sprig of basil was said to have been found growing from the wood of the True Cross. On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross it is customary in the East to rest the Holy Cross on a bed of basil before presenting it to the veneration of the faithful.

Also, from the practice in some areas of strewing branches of basil before church communion rails, it came to be known as Holy Communion Plant. The blessed basil leaf can be arranged in a bouquet at the foot of the crucifix; the dried leaves can also be used by the faithful as a sacramental.

Splinters of the Cross

A friend of mine wrote this poem three years ago and recently shared it with me. “Splinters of the Cross” makes for a good meditation today, Good Friday.

Splinters of the Cross

Bolek Kabala

May 15, 2013

36_nailiLike men hounded, harried

we pressed on, pelted by the rain

The hulk of the shipwreck behind us, obscured by the tempest

What demon had driven us to capsize here?

Our clothes were tattered

blood flowing from the pricks of brambles and thorns

the gleam of a wolf’s eye in the darkness

the chant of a crazed medicine man in the void

Lightning tore the sky asunder

And we started up the hills, the rock, the crag

Barren

Desolate

Crying for mercy, we struggled on

But wrath was upon us

It drove us onwards, and upwards

Until we could find a way forward only on our knees

Lord, will you not intercede on behalf of a sinner?

De Profundis

Then the sky was stilled

The sulfurous acridity of insomnia lifted

And lo, we beheld it

The Cross

The Cross atop the Rock of our madness and despair

A shaft of light broke through the clouds

It was a cross – there could no longer be any doubt

Its splinters beckoned

A creeping vine burst forth, and I exhaled

Yes, maybe green would grow here again

Don’t ashamed of the Cross of Christ

cross sacramentaryFriday is a day to recall the Signum Crucis –the sign of the Cross. I am aware that some are not comfortable with crossing one’s self in public for being self-conscious. It is, however, good public witness! We ought not be ashamed of making the sign of the Cross! To be ashamed of the sign of His Cross is to be ashamed of Him!

“Let us, therefore, not be ashamed of the Cross of Christ; but though another hide it, do thou openly seal it upon thy forehead, that the devils may behold the royal sign and flee trembling far away. Make then this sign at eating and drinking, at sitting, at lying down, at rising up, at speaking, at walking: in a word, at every act.” – St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem A.D. 386

We carry our cross

carrying our cross

Daily I am reminded that life is not easy for others, and for me. We carry burdens of health, the spiritual life, economy, of relationship and psychology. How is our heart affected? The burdens we carry are only lightened when we make a connection with Jesus who first carried the cross for us.

Remember that each of us has his own cross. The Golgotha of this cross is our heart: it is being lifted or implanted through a zealous determination to live according to the Spirit of God. Just as salvation of the world is by the Cross of God, so our salvation is by our crucifixion on our own cross.

St. Theophan the Recluse

Christ’s victory in the Cross

Crucifixion Georges RouaultIn the Syriac Christian tradition the Cross of Jesus is known as a bridge that connects us to new life and the promise, the glory of the kingdom. The Lord Himself is the gate that let’s us into our eternal home. The gate is also the saving wood of his cross. This is part of His I AM –the personal mission given to Him by God the Father. Those who live and pray in the Syriac theological tradition (the Syriac Church or the Maronite Church) know that after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross the Church’s Liturgy counts the Sundays in this manner: “3rd Sunday after the Holy Cross.” It is an acknowledgement of this pivotal feast of the Paschal Mystery. The Church keeps us focussed on the beauty and victory of the Cross of Jesus. What does divine revelation and the teaching of the Fathers reveal to us? The Victorious and Life-giving sacrifice of the Cross “is the sign of all that is good, coming from Christ the Lord: the gospel, the sacraments, new life, his shield of protection, as well as the sign of his final victory.”

The sainted deacon and hymn-writer Saint Ephrem (fourth century) speaks of “the Cross as the new Tree of Life, mystically describes the branches of the Tree of the Cross as the arms of a mother who picks-up her children to nourish them with the fruits – the sacraments – from the bosom of her branches. Christ himself, through his saving cross has become for us this Tree of Life; the Luminous Sign of our victory over death through the life-giving graces of the Father’s nurturing Spirit.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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