O Crux, ave, spes unica! (Hail, O Cross, sole hope!)

Crucifixion, Bartolome Murillo

Crucifixion, Bartolome Murillo

 

THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS:  (September 14th)

On September 14, in 335, took place the dedication of Constantine’s basilica, which enclosed both Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre. “At this date,” says Etheria, “the cross was discovered. And the anniversary in celebrated with as much solemnity as Easter or the Epiphany.” Such was the origin of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. “When I shall be raised on high, I shall draw everything unto Me” (Gospel: John xii. 31-36), Jesus had said. It is because the Saviour humbled Himself, being obedient even to the death of the cross, that God exalted Him and gave Him a name above all other names (Epistle: Philippians ii. 5-7). Wherefore we must glory in the cross of Jesus, for He is our life and our salvation (Introit) and He protects His servants against the wiles of their enemies (Offertory, Communion, Postcommunion).

Towards the end of the reign of Phocas, Chosroes, King of Persia, says the reading of the breviary, took Jerusalem, where he put to death several thousand Christians and carried off to Persia the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, which St. Helen had placed on mount Calvary.

Heraclius, the successor of Phocas, had recourse to many fasts and prayers, imploring with great fervour the help of God. He assembled an army and defeated Chosroes. He then insisted on the restitution of the cross of the Lord. Thus the precious relic was recovered after an interval of fourteen years. On his return to Jerusalem, Heraclius carried it on his shoulders in great pomp to the mountain where the Saviour Himself had borne it (A.D. 629).

An extraordinary miracle marked the occasion. Heraclius, who was loaded with ornaments of gold and precious stones, was held back by an invincible force at the entrance gate of mount Calvary and vain were his efforts to enter.

As the Emperor and all those who witnessed the scene were astonished, Zacharias, bishop of Jerusalem, said to him: “Consider, O Emperor, that with these triumphal ornaments you are far from imitating the poverty of Jesus Christ and His humility in bearing His cross.” Heraclius thereupon doffed his splendid garb and walked barefooted with a common cloak on his shoulders to Calvary, where he again deposited the cross. The feast of the Exaltation of the holy Cross on the original spot, the anniversary of which was celebrated on this day, became of great importance.

Let us join, in spirit, the faithful who in the Church of Holy Cross at Rome venerate on this day the relics of the sacred wood exposed for the occasion, so that, having been privileged to adore it on this feast when we rejoice for its exaltation, we may likewise possess for all eternity the salvation and glory the Cross has won for us (Collect, Secret).

exaltation-of-the-holy-cross-14th-september

Introit: Gal. vi. 14

Nos autem gloriari oportet in Cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi : in quo est salus, vita, et resurrectio nostra: per quem salvati, et liberati sumus, alleluia, alleluia. * Deus misereatur nostri, et benedicat nobis illuminet vultum suum super nos, et misereatur nostri.

But it behoves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ: in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection; by whom we are saved and delivered. * May God have mercy on us, and bless us; may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy on us.

Collect:

Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis. * Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum, et dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen.
Alleluia, alleluia. * Dulce lignum, dulces clavos, dulcia ferens pondera: quae sola fuisti digna sustinere Regem caelorum, et Dominum. Alleluia.

Christ became obedient for us unto death: even the death of the cross. * Wherefore God also hath exalted Him, and had given Him a name which is above every name.
Alleluia, alleluia. * Sweet the wood, sweet the nails, sweet the load that hangs thereon: for thou alone, O holy Cross, wast worthy to bear the King and Lord of heaven. Alleluia.

Gradual: Phil. ii. 8-9

Christ became obedient for us unto death: even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath exalted Him, and had given Him a name which is above every name.

Alleluia, alleluia. Sweet the wood , sweet the nails, sweet the load that hangs thereon: for thou alone, O holy Cross wast worthy to bear the King and Lord of heaven. Alleluia.

Offertory:

By the sign of the holy Cross, protect Thy people, O lord, from the snares of every foe: that we may exhibit to Thee a pleasing service, and our sacrifice may become acceptable, alleluia.

Secret:

We are now, O Lord our God, about to feed on the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the banner of the holy Cross was hallowed: grant we beseech Thee, that since we have been found worthy to worship that same holy Cross, we may enjoy for evermore the glorious salvation it has won for us. Through the same Lord.

Communion:

By the sign of the Cross deliver us from our enemies, O Thou who art our God.

Postcommunion:

Be Thou with us, O Lord, our God: and defend with Thine abiding help, those whom Thou makest to rejoice in the honour of Thy holy Cross. Through our Lord.

(From The Saint Andrew Daily Missal)

*****

 

 

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10 Responses to O Crux, ave, spes unica! (Hail, O Cross, sole hope!)

  1. toadspittle says:

    “An extraordinary miracle marked the occasion..”
    Not just a regular one.

  2. A beautiful mass. Thank you.

  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Today is the anniversary of my baptism. Not by a Catholic, but still a valid one. When I converted, I took steps to contact the minister who baptised me to learn what denomination he belonged to, because not all Protestant baptisms are accepted as valid by the Catholic Church. Sadly, he’d died in a car crash the next year, but I was informed that he was United Church (aka Methodist) and my Catholic RCIA pastor assured me that my baptism at his hands was acceptable. Ironically, the first Catholic Church I ever entered (2 years after my baptism at age 2) and from which I ran home to tell my mother that I wanted to be a Catholic, was only 1,200 metres away from where I was baptised. Hugely symbolic for me.

  4. johnhenrycn says:

    oops, I typed in the addresses wrong. It was only 600 metres between the Protestant Community Church and the One True Church. Thinking about it today, I knew that my little 4 year old legs couldn’t have managed 1200 metres. The distance was even less than 600 m. when I went the back way. The One True Church had a swing set, which is why I remember all this so vividly.

  5. kathleen says:

    JH,

    That is such an endearing story! Loved it. Converts sometimes have that advantage over us cradle Catholics; they remember the time, and even sometimes the moment, when God’s grace touched their hearts and led them home to His Church.

    Congratulations (a day late) on the anniversary of your Baptism!
    I remember once hearing in a wonderful homily the priest telling us that the day of our Baptism should be celebrated in a greater way than the day of our birth!! I was blessed to be baptised on the feast of the Holy Rosary – 7th October – though at three weeks old I have no recollection of it!😉

  6. kathleen says:

    Having endured the querulous, self-righteous, pontificating of an embittered old windbag emanating from the Emerald Isle hanging over the blog for a few days on other posts, it is good to see things returning to normal banter and discussion again.

    My granny (who also proceeded from the same lovely green isle) often used to say that crosses come from the good Lord in many shapes and sizes, and it’s our Christian duty to accept and embrace them all as ‘gifts’.
    Gifts? That was a hard lesson then for me as a child, and it’s a hard lesson now, and one that I am still trying to learn! How can one “embrace” the cross?…. Yet, at the same time, how can one avoid it, when the inescapable crosses of suffering come to us throughout life anyway (sometimes truly unimaginable heavy crosses that we hear about) in great and in lesser ways? Even many times a day we find the cross, in trials, pains and disappointments. The cross is indeed part of the human condition and a result of The Fall.

    In this beautiful painting illustrating the article above, Mary Magdalene embraces the cross – her (our) only hope. It is the hope that brings peace to the troubled soul, for through the cross borne with faith and patience out of love for God, we know that sorrow will be turned, one day, into immense joy. St Paul helps us understand how suffering can be made ‘useful’:

    “If so ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and immoveable from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, which is preached in all the creation that is under heaven, whereof I Paul am made a minister. Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.” (Colossians 1:23-24)

    “Whatever the source, don’t waste your suffering”, Ven. Fulton Sheen advises us!

  7. Roger says:

    Thank You Kathleen.

    This whole blog is a very rich spiritual material and requires sipping and absorbing.
    The first class relic the True Cross.
    The truth of the Conversion and Salvation of Poor Sinners (St Magdalene) through Our Lord’s Passion.
    The beautiful Holy Liturgy and the Wisdom of Mother Church which celebrates
    THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS: and The Holy Sacrifice of The MASS
    Here the Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass is Mirrored by the Feast of the Holy Cross!! This is so mind blowing.
    The timeless Latin because it was Rome that raised that Holy Cross with Our Lord.

    I hope you can all begin to delve deeper and deeper into the profundity of this Feast and those Words, prayers and teachings.

    The purpose of the Sacred Liturgy is the Adoration and Worship of God and this is True Charity. Of secondary importance is the understanding of Man.

    “Whatever the source, don’t waste your suffering”, Ven. Fulton Sheen
    Its the same timeless Wisdom of St Therese’s Little Way

    .

  8. GC says:

    kathleen (2 above):In this beautiful painting illustrating the article above, Mary Magdalene embraces the cross – her (our) only hope. It is the hope that brings peace to the troubled soul, for through the cross borne with faith and patience out of love for God, we know that sorrow will be turned, one day, into immense joy.

    kathleen, beautifully expressed – all the more so as I know it to be true, as I’ve had some pretty awful crosses to bear in my time (much more depressing than an unnecessarily far too repetitious certain Irish person). I now am sure my crosses were only bearable because our Lord invited us to share His own cross. Please, dear Lord, I hope I’ve had enough of crosses already. But Thy will be done.

    jh, it must have been a special day indeed for you as we can all plainly see it was. We “cradle Catholics” aren’t able to have such reminiscences for obvious reasons. I myself was baptised when exactly 14 days old and I wasn’t too aware of anything much then, except perhaps that my nappy was probably feeling decidedly yucky. It’s lovely to see you feeling so deeply affected by your day of reception into the Church.

    Absolutely Palestrina at his finest. Marvellous. Thank you CP&S for that!

  9. kathleen says:

    Roger @ 12:18

    Such a profound and meaningful comment from you, Roger – thank you very much.
    Yes “sipping and absorbing” in small doses is really the only way to understand the Cross, so great is its mystery, so vast and without limits the love it reveals!

    “Whatever the source, don’t waste your suffering”, Ven. Fulton Sheen
    Its the same timeless Wisdom of St Therese’s Little Way

    It is indeed. It is her “Little Way” all men may follow, never missing a chance to offer up even the smallest of penances, thus transforming them into gifts more valuable than gold. Though St Thérèse of Lisieux also knew great crosses too in her short life, these she bore with the same humility and joy as the lighter ones.

    ——-

    GC @ 18:27

    I’ve had some pretty awful crosses to bear in my time

    I didn’t know, GC! You, the most cheerful, wise and positive of people – who could have known it?…. BUT for this same reason you give great witness to 1 Peter 3,15.

    I now am sure my crosses were only bearable because our Lord invited us to share His own cross.

    Without faith and trust and our eyes fixed on the Cross of Our Lord, some of our crosses would surely crush us under their weight.

  10. Toad says:

    “Without faith and trust and our eyes fixed on the Cross of Our Lord, some of our crosses would surely crush us under their weight.
    True. There are crushed non-Christians everywhere we look. We keep tripping over them

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