Tag Archives: Exaltation of the Holy 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).

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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.

Feast of the The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, Italy. 12th-13th cenFrom a Homily by John Paul II, 14 September 2003:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Cross is the “privileged place” where the love of God is revealed and shown to us. On the Cross human misery and divine mercy meet. The adoration of this unlimited mercy is for man the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals.

The Cross is planted in the earth and would seem to extend its roots in human malice, but it reaches up, pointing as it were to the heavens, pointing to the goodness of God. By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted.

In the Garden of Eden, at the foot of the tree, there was a woman, Eve (cf. Gen 3). Seduced by the Evil One, she takes possession of what she thinks is divine life. Instead it is a seed of death which enters into her (cf. Jas 1:15; Rom 6:23).

On Calvary, at the foot of the tree of the cross, there was another woman, Mary (cf. Jn 19:25-27). Accepting God’s plan, she shares intimately in the Son’s gift of self to the Father for the life of the world and, receiving from Jesus the entrustment of John the Apostle, she becomes the Mother of all mankind.

Image: Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, Italy. 12th-13th century.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

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He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24)

Today is the solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is our firm and certain belief that Jesus’ death transfigures us into true life. The Cross is the key to Heaven. Today, we are reminded again that that Jesus Christ’s Death and Resurrection changed everything!

Ave Crux Spes Unica!

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross!

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

 

 

 

O Cross our one reliance hail!
So may thy power with us avail
To give new virtue to the Saint,
And pardon to the penitent.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

triumph of the crossToday’s Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: “We Adore You O Christ, and We Bless You, Because by Your Holy Cross, You have Redeemed the world!”

This feast celebrates two historical events: the discovery of the True Cross by Saint Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, in AD 320 under the temple of Venus in Jerusalem. The feast is also memorialized in the basilica of the Holy Cross in Rome, a church constructed by Helen. In the USA, the metropolitan cathedral of Boston honors this feast with the name of Holy Cross. It is also the dedication in AD 335 of the basilica and shrine built on Calvary by Emperor Constantine, which mark the site of the Crucifixion.

The greatness of this feast reminds us that the Cross is the instrument, the vehicle of our salvation; touching our lips to the glorious cross of our redemption, we  take up the crosses in our own lives and accept and reverence them as well.  And by God’s grace we are able to carry our cross to the natural conclusion.

Saint Andrew of Crete tells us: “We are celebrating the feast of the cross which drove away darkness and brought in the light… Had there been no cross, Christ could not have been crucified. Had there been no cross, Life Itself could not have been nailed to the tree. And if Life had not been nailed to it, they would be no streams of immortality pouring from Christ’s side, blood and water for the world’s cleansing. The legal bond of our sin would not be canceled, we should not have obtained our freedom, we should not have enjoyed the fruit of the tree of life, and the gates of paradise would not stand open. Had there been no cross, death would not have been trodden underfoot, nor hell despoiled… The cross is called Christ’s glory; it is saluted as his triumph.”

 

 

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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