Thursday, September 14, 2017

Be Lifted Up...

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The Cross: Ultimate Symbol of Fidelity

Among all the religious symbols in the world, none is more universal than the cross. You see crosses everywhere: on walls, on hillsides, in churches, in houses, in bedrooms, on chains around peoples' necks, on rings, on earrings, on old people, on young people, on believers, and on people who aren't sure what they believe.

Not everyone can explain what the cross means or why they choose to wear one, but most everyone has an inchoate sense that it is a symbol—perhaps the ultimate symbol—of depth, love, fidelity, and faith.

–from Ronald Rolheiser, author of the book The Passion and the Cross


✞ "You can do more with the grace of God than you think."
— St. John Baptist de la Salle

"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
Soul of the Apostolate


September 14th is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (also known as the Triumph of the Cross). Early in the 4th century St. Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the actual locations where the events of Jesus' life took place. She found the True Cross which immediately became an object of veneration for the Church. Constantine built a basilica on Calvary marking the site of the Crucifixion and dedicated it on this day in the year 335 A.D. The basilica was later destroyed by the Persians and the true cross was stolen. This day also marks the recovery of the cross by Emperor Heraclius II who returned it to Jerusalem, carrying it on his own back and restoring it to the Church in 629 A.D.

"We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28


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Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Saint of the Day for September 14

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 on that spot. 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.


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.


Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Lectionary: 638

Reading 1 NM 21:4B-9

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.

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.


Meditation: John 3:13-17

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Feast)

God so loved the world. (John 3:16)

Think about how messy volcanoes are when they erupt. Smoke and ash darken the sky for miles. Molten lava engulfs the mountainside, bringing down mighty forests, threatening villages, and forging new paths.

As destructive as a volcano is, however, it is also immensely creative. Surging lava flows into the sea and creates new islands as the seawater cools and hardens it. The ash falling from the sky fertilizes these islands, bringing forth new vegetation in record time. The entire landscape is reshaped as God once again shows his ability to bring forth new life out of the messiness of violence and death.

What an appropriate way to think about today's feast! September 14 was originally celebrated as the day that St. Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, discovered the true cross of Christ during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. But over time, this day has evolved into a celebration not just of the finding of the cross, but of the victory that Jesus won when he was exalted, or lifted up, on that cross. And so it was given its new name: The Exaltation of the Cross.

This is a day of commemoration and celebration. It's called a "feast day" for a reason. So go ahead and celebrate. Enjoy the day as you would enjoy a time of rest and relaxation. Don't focus on all the things you have to do in order to be pleasing to the Lord. Don't worry about how much (or how little) progress you have made along the path of holiness. Save those concerns for another day; relax and rejoice instead.

Rejoice that death has been upended by the power unleashed on Mount Calvary.

Rejoice in the blood that flowed from the cross—blood that destroys strongholds of sin and forges new paths of hope for you to walk.

Rejoice in the new land—the kingdom of heaven—that has become the sturdy foundation for your life.

More than anything else, rejoice because God loves you so much that, rather than condemn you, he sent his Son to save you.

Life is messy sometimes—even as messy as a volcanic eruption. Even God makes things messy on occasion. But he always brings life out of death. How can we not rejoice?

"Jesus, I rejoice in the triumph of your cross!"

Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38



""Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live."
The strangest thing. God said He'd come among us. He did. He died. In doing so, destroys all things sin and death....for where He goes.

We pray today "Do not forget the works of the Lord! But they flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues," we prayed on: "But he, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not; Often he turned back his anger"
You see, God is not mean. God is not unjust. If you want bitterness and tears, simply do the unforgivable...reject God, reject the Holy Spirit, reject the Son. And it's quite simple, and it is tied with sin. We are the ones who are mean, and unjust, and merciless. This is why our Lord does the strangest things when He enters the world.

In the Holy Gospel we heard "... 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." Imagine, a venomous mean and ugly looking snake bites you, and you are now facing death, it is a mortal bite, a morbid bite, a bite that ends your life, at least will be very soon. Unless. Dr. Seuss says in the story of the Lorax ""Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not."

We live in a world that accepts sin, no one cares. We live in a world where death looms, and no one cares. Oh yes, we say we care but...not really. I know people with last names tattooed, family pride, and kids names tattooed, apparently, they care. But then I see them, their lives, they are not capable of loving, they are alcoholic, or drug addicts, or live divorcing, and the kids are off on their own. We claim we love them...but do we really? I often tell them "you gotta love them better, don't say 'I love you to death' say "I want to love you in eternity". This is what Jesus says. I told a couple in class last night "Notice when you enter a Catholic Church, you'll see the Father, Our Father with open arms" most often, a crucifix. Because we had just read the story of the prodigal son. And we read about the servant who was forgiven a HUGE debt and strangled one who owed him much less. Gratitude. I told them "gratefulness is tied with holiness....many are ungrateful, have very little to be thankful for...". Therefore, the more grateful you are, the more humble and holy you can become. This is why Eucharist means thanksgiving.

I write much, but it is the burning in my heart that propels me. Why did Jesus our Lord have to become that snake, that embodiment of ugliness? Why would God make you look at that ugly venomous snake mounted on a pole? It is not a pretty site. A dead snake, a snake that makes you think of your own death now looming. Why God? He wants us to face the truth. Be humbled by it. Be humbled by Him. The dead snake is what bit you. He killed it. Know what this means.

In the Holy Gospel, the Word said "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him."
We celebrate a solemnity today. As the vision went, I saw the Lord suffering on the cross, breathing His last. There I stood hopeless, nothing I could do. To this day, there is nothing I can do without Him. I noticed how darkness had covered Him. But what I want you to notice something unseen; my interior, the deepest part beyond the heart, knew naturally, this was my Father, Our Father. He was doing the most bravest, the most loving act....Giving. His only life on earth, offered as food forever. To become one of us, this is how it would have to be. Deep inside, beyond flesh and comprehension. God knows what it means and what it takes to save a soul.


Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever

your brother in Christ,

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