Crucifixes. Whether you only have one that you received as a wedding gift or one over each doorway, the crucifix is a staple of the Catholic home. On September 14th we, as a Church, celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Some among us may shrug our shoulders. After all, the Church likes to celebrate a lot of different feasts throughout the year. What about this feast is any different?
On many of the Church’s feast days we are mourning the loss of a person but also celebrating their entrance into their heavenly reward. The Church’s feasts are almost always centered around holy persons. There are only a select few that are based on other events or holy artifacts. On this feast, we celebrate the finding of something.
What does this feast offer us spiritually? It offers us the tangibility we long for when we seek God. The crucifix is not just a symbol. The Passion of Jesus is not just a story. This Cross which we exult is the one upon which the gates of heaven were opened, the powers of Hell defeated and the Kingdom of God established on the earth through the Church. His heavenly blood spilled down the bark of this earthly tree. With heaving breaths, He gained painful seconds of life. As He hung upon this Cross, He prayed for souls, He prayed for His persecutors, forgave sins, fulfilled prophecies and bestowed the Church with the gift of His Blessed Mother.
This Cross is not simply wood. It was chosen as an instrument which touched the wounds of the Incarnate God. Its very surface absorbed the blood of Christ into its inner fibers. Upon this Cross of Christ were the world’s sins and hopes nailed. Christ did not turn His face from the world; instead, He entrusted Himself
fully. The Incarnation leads to the Cross which ultimately leads to the Resurrection. Every mystery of the rosary we pray focuses around these truths. Every torture of His Passion was one more soul saved, one more sin forgiven, and one more step to defeating death forever.
Beneath this Cross knelt His Most Sorrowful Mother. Her heart tore deeply with each drop of His Precious Blood that was spilt and each painful breath He took. Like a true mother, she suffered along with her Son yet offered it all to God. With complete surrender, Our Lady looked on as another dagger pierced her heart. Though her suffering had been foreseen by Simeon the prophet, it did not dull her anguish. Yet still, she had two more daggers to bear in the taking down from the Cross and burying of her Son. The love of Our Lady is not a shallow cove but a deep pool of joy and sorrow. In her, the words of St. Paul ring most true, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)
So, why do we exalt the finding of a Cross? It is not for the sake of having some thing. It is for the sake of someone. It is for our sake that we have the physical relics of the Cross and the replicas in our homes. If there is a crucifix in our home, take time and kneel before it. Fix your gaze upon the downturned head of Jesus. Meditate on each of the wounds inflicted upon Our Lord. Allow yourself to be still in the presence of the crucifix. Speak to the Lord in His Passion and suffering. Offer to him something to alleviate His pain. Offer contrition for your sins. Pray for the salvation of your family. Pray in thanksgiving for the life he has provided.
On this feast, meditate on the Cross of Our Lord. May the words of St. Gemma resound in your heart, “It is not enough to look at the cross, or wear it, we must carry it in the depth of our heart.” Thank Him for the suffering He endured and for the events He has allowed us to venerate through the relics of His Most Sacred Cross. Take your place beneath your family’s crucifix or the one at your church. Give Him five minutes before or after Mass to be with Him, to thank Him, adore Him and praise Him.
(Article can also be found at Radiance + Grace online magazine)