Tag Archives: cross

What am I doing for Christ right now?

Crucifixion with saints AdelCastagno.jpg

Thinking about the life-saving cross of Jesus, I am
recalling what Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught in his Spiritual Exercises about God’s unconditional love for humanity: no talk of the mercy and love is reasonable without kneeling before the cross. This was evident to me as I walked into the chapel this morning for Lauds and forced to navigate in the
middle of the aisle a cross with relic of the True Cross before it. I knelt for a moment of prayer and kissed the relic. It is striking to do this pious gesture because it brings home to the heart, the Christian reality that the cross is so very central to our life of faith; it is the altar on which we are saved; and it is the cross that is the key which unlocks the door to the Father’s house; it is the love that kills and transcends all sin.

Loyola offers a meditation

Imagine Christ our Lord suspended on the cross before you, and converse with him in a colloquy: How is it that he, although he is the Creator, has come to make himself a human being? How is it that he has passed from eternal life to death here in time, and to die in this way for my sins?

In a similar way, reflect on yourself and ask: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ What ought I to do for Christ?

In this way, too, gazing on him in so pitiful a state as he hangs on the cross, speak out whatever comes to your mind.

A Colloquy is made, properly speaking, in the way one friend speaks to another, or a servant to one in authority – now begging for a favor, now accusing oneself of some misdeed, now telling one’s concerns and asking counsel about them. Close with an Our Father.

(Spiritual Exercises 53 and 54)

Without the Cross & the Resurrection we have atheism in Christianity

Crucifixion Weingarten Missal 13thc.jpgBut what Christ did on the Cross was in no way intended to spare us death but rather to revalue death completely. In place of the “going down into the pit” of the Old Testament, it became “being in paradise tomorrow”. Instead of fearing death as the final evil and begging God for a few more years of life, as the weeping king Hezekiah does, Paul would like most of all to die immediately in order “to be with the Lord” (Phil 1:23). Together with death, life is also revalued: “If we live, we live to the Lord; if we die, we die to the Lord” (Rom 14:8).

But the issue is not only life and death but our existence before God and our being judged by him. All of us were sinners before him and worthy of condemnation. But God “made the One who knew no sin to be sin, so that we might be justified through him in God’s eyes” (2 Cor 5:21).

Only God in his absolute freedom can take hold of our finite freedom from within in such a way as to give it a direction toward him, an exit to him, when it was closed in on itself. This happened in virtue of the “wonderful exchange” between Christ and us: he experiences instead of us what distance from God is, so that we may become beloved and loving children of God instead of being his “enemies” (Rom 5:10).

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There’s no cheap grace in following Christ & the Church

The 40 days of Lent is leading to a dramatic climax in our
liturgical imagination: the prayer, fasting, almsgiving is pointing us directly
to what we’ve been promised and hoped for–salvation. These days of Lent offered
us an entrée into the Divine Mystery and yet I fear that a great many people,
including myself–may not have heard Jesus’ prophetic rebuke of the Pharisees
and others for their errors and for their self-righteousness and have missed
the essential purpose of our Lord’s sharp words. Certainly hearing Peter deny
Christ three times indicates that same tendency in us to stand back from that
which is life-giving. In the Scriptures we heard at Mass and in the Divine
Office we hear the Lord not condemning the people for love of God’s Law but
calling them to follow him more closely and in doing so enter more deeply into
the spirit of the Law. Christ makes it clear that living in the Kingdom of God
requires us to be sacrificial: to turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.
Here is the certainty we have: to follow Christ entails self-denial and the
acceptance of his cross as ours. No embrace of the cross, no life eternal.

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O Cross, our one reliance

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. (Roman Martyrology)


The Church presents to us today a feast which commemorates the discovery of the Holy

Relics.jpgCross by Emperor Saint Constantine’s mother Saint Helena in Jerusalem (AD 325).  The Tradition says that Saint Helena found the Cross and the relics of the holy Passion and then brought them to Rome where they are venerated at the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. On the spot of the discovery, she built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher keeping a portion of the Cross at there.


The sacred Liturgy gives us the image of the Holy Cross because it brings together the historical reality of the Cross with its theological import:  mystery of the life and death of Christ. This is not a feast celebrating a “terrific find” at an archaeological dig; it is a feast of our faith as the Cross is a central symbol of our faith.


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Hymnus in Honore Sanctae Crucis


Vexilla regis prodeunt,
fulget crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.


Confixa clavis viscera
tendens manus, vestigia
redemptionis gratia
hic inmolata est hostia.


Quo vulneratus insuper
mucrone diro lanceae,
ut nos lavaret crimine,
manavit unda et sanguine.


Inpleta sunt quae concinit
David fideli carmine,
dicendo nationibus:
regnavit a ligno deus.


Arbor decora et fulgida,
ornata regis purpura,
electa, digno stipite
tam sancta membra tangere!


Beata cuius brachiis
pretium pependit saeculi!
statera facta est corporis
praedam tulitque Tartari.


Fundis aroma cortice,
vincis sapore nectare,
iucunda fructu fertili
plaudis triumpho nobili.


Salve ara, salve victima
de passionis gloria,
qua vita mortem pertulit
et morte vitam reddidit.


In Festo Exaltationis Sanctae Crucis:

in hac triumphi gloria!


(“Vexilla Regis” was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) and is considered one of the greatest hymns of the sacred Liturgy. This is the full hymn but when used liturgically at Vespers verses 2, 4, 7 are omitted.)

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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