Saturday, September 14, 2013
The Triumph of the Cross
If you subscribe to OSV's The Catholic Answer Magazine, you could be reading my article on "The Cross Triumphant: What are the Feasts of the Holy Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows?" today on this Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. If you don't subscribe to that magazine, you could instead read this article from last year's edition of PraytheMass.org, on which The Catholic Answer Magazine article was based (Dr. Bunson requested I rewrite the article for him).
The Church presents us with another beautiful matching of a Feast of Our Savior and a Memorial of Our Mother Mary this month (like the pair of Hearts, Sacred and Immaculate, following the of Corpus Christi in June). The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is on September 14; the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows follows on September 15. The pairing of these celebrations, even in their different levels on the liturgical and sanctoral calendars, properly guides us in our devotion and love of Our Savior and Our Lady. Both celebrations have a long history and are worthy of meditation.
The Feast of the Triumph of the Cross was observed in Rome in the late seventh century to commemorate the recovery of the Holy Cross by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 629. St. Helena, Constantine’s mother, had found the True Cross in Jerusalem in the fourth century but the Persians had captured it and returned it after Heraclius defeated the Persian king Khosrau. The emperor returned it to Jerusalem, and this feast recalls that event.
But on a deeper level, of course, the Feast recalls Jesus’ triumph over death and the fulfillment of His great statement, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:32, which serves as the Communion ). The liturgy of the Mass for this Feast includes both triumph and sorrow in the readings and prayers, since Jesus both suffers His Passion and defeats sin and death. From the Book of Numbers, the First Reading recalls the story of Moses and the bronze Seraph, raised on a pole—when the people Israel who had been grumbling against God for their sufferings, looked up to the serpent, they were healed of the serpent bites God had sent to afflict them.
Read the rest here.
The painting above is one of Ruben's depictions of the Descent from the Cross. During one of our visits to Belgium, I went on a day tour to Antwerp and saw the great Raising of the Cross, Descent from the Cross, and Resurrection paintings in the Cathedral of Our Lady.