"You can do more with the grace of God than you think." — St. John Baptist de la Salle
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "The Church has been uniting her praises to those which the angels and her own elect children have been giving to God in heaven. In this way, she already begins to do, here below, what is destined to occupy her for all eternity. United to the praises of the man-God, this praise, the prayer of the Church, becomes divine and the Liturgy of the earth becomes one with that of the celestial hierarchies in the Court of Christ, echoing that everlasting praise which springs forth from the furnace of infinite love which is the Most Holy Trinity." — Dom Jean-Baptist Chautard, p. 217 AN EXCERPT FROM Soul of the Apostolate
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Exaltation of the Holy Cross
The Story of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Early in the fourth century, Saint Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ's life. She razed the second-century Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior's tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.
The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus' head: Then "all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on."
To this day the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica's dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim. Reflection
The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome's authority—including Christians who refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine's edict of toleration.
With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!"
In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. Then the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses, "Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live." Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38 R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord! Hearken, my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter mysteries from of old.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord! While he slew them they sought him and inquired after God again, Remembering that God was their rock and the Most High God, their redeemer.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord! But they flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues, Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him, nor were they faithful to his covenant.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord! But he, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not; Often he turned back his anger and let none of his wrath be roused.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Reading 2 Phil 2:6-11
Brothers and sisters: Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Cross you have redeemed the world. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 3:13-17
Jesus said to Nicodemus: "No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ In the cross of Christ is our freedom and birth to a new life. The Father generously gave us his own Son so that we might all truly live.
▪ The cross is the icon of great faith, hope and love. As I gaze and contemplate Christ on the cross, I ask the Lord for his redemptive and healing love that embraces the whole world.
Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one friend to another.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)
The design of the cross is so simple. It's just two lines, but the entire gospel can be found in them. Picture one vertical stroke from God descending and intersecting the horizon of the sky. Right there, in the middle, that's where heaven and earth meet. That's where everything is transformed.
That's just like the power of the cross, isn't it? Its message of self-sacrificing love and mercy is so simple that we can easily apply it to every part of our lives while at the same time none of the world's brightest theologians can fully grasp its mysteries.
We lift up the cross of Christ today because that's where heaven intersected earth. God meant this sign to be for everyone who believes—an all-embracing, universal banner of his love (John 3:16). He longs for the whole world to be united under it. Yet as universal as the cross is, it is also intensely personal. Jesus was crucified there for you. He wants his love to intersect with every strand of your being. He wants you to know that everything, from your head to your heart and all that's in-between, can be touched by heaven.
This sounds so beautiful, but also theoretical. Exactly how can we invite heaven to reach every corner of our lives? For help, remember the Israelites in today's first reading. Life flowed into them when they fixed their eyes on the bronze serpent in the desert. So maybe you could start by lifting up the cross in your imagination. Picture Jesus there, pouring himself out for you and for the whole world. Think about the extraordinary kindness and goodness of God that are displayed there. Keep your gaze fixed upon the cross, and grace will flow into you and soften your heart.
The cross is the greatest sign of Jesus' triumph over sin and death. It tells us that God loves us so much that he was willing to bring heaven down to earth even after we had fallen into sin. So rejoice and celebrate today. Glorify God and thank him for this mighty gift. Tell him that you want to receive his deepest blessing: heaven in your heart!
"Jesus, thank you for the cross. Help me to lift it high in my heart and my mind."
Today's Holy Scriptures began with: "With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses." And from Matthew 16:24: "Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Has your patience been tested? Deny yourself...suffer, for the very word "patience" is derived from a word that means to suffer out. This is the cross, and the exaltation thereof..of God, an act of love, obedience, charity to Him, an offering of a sincere heart, even, a suffering heart.
We prayed today "Do not forget the works of the Lord! Hearken, my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth." The Lord has spoken. From the second reading: "Christ Jesus...humbled himself...becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him..." Jesus shows the way...the way to Heaven. From the Holy Gospel: ""No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man." And He said that He would be lifted up like the sign of Moses in the desert, for salvation, to be freed from death, because of their sin of...being worn out, complaining, cursing the Lord, instead of being appreciative, they wished they could go back to their sinful ways and mix with other gods of their bellies, and sensual pleasures, all things temporal, all things gods, loves that would take the place of the ONE they were stranded with...the LORD Himself. The Lord loves faithfulness. I promise He does. He loves that offering. As Jesus was obedient to death, that is our calling as a flock of One Shepherd. The exaltation of the cross means more than a physical object, it means to raise God and look to Him for salvation alone. As Catholics, we do not remove the body off the cross, to gaze on the very reason for the cross...Jesus. We kiss the cross during Lent to cherish the cross of our very lives...Jesus. Where I was baptized in Colorado, that little old church was burned down, some say by a satanic group. Today, there stands a newly built church on top of the old church. It is so beautiful, like a small version of a cathedral. Inside, as you walk in, behind the altar hangs a large crucifix, which looks like a bronze Jesus and hangs on a bent wooden cross. As we left a couple weeks ago that church, my dad was telling me that a man he knew had carved out the cross and had called him one day saying "something has taken over me to carve this, and I'm not even a woodworker" and today, that man Norbert, is a deacon. I had met the Deacon and his wife after Mass as people had left to the burial site, I had gone back in for my guitar and we chatted. Their hearts were completely devoted to the Church. The cross had already afflicted them, that was their doing...put that cross up that was raised up and exalted. This was not a carved or wooden image to be worshiped, but all that it stood for, the love of the cross, the love of Christ, exactly like when I write a song for the Lord, or if one draws a picture, or writes a book, it is this exaltation of the cross, this praise with our lives, giving glory to God as we live. I'm going to say to you what I've told hundreds...to love the Church is to serve the Church. It is the body of Christ. Pour yourself out now while you are alive. Just as we donate blood to save lives, we must donate our time, our love, and the more...the better...to the point of every second of our lives. Why? Because...the life of Jesus was not taken...it was already given
the cross of the new church where I was baptized...pic taken couple weeks ago