Updated: 6 days ago
14 September 2020 / The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Ave Maria University / Romanus Cessario, O.P.
The Feast of the Holy Cross marks the start of the monastic fast. Monks and nuns traditionally observe a long period of penance from today until Easter Sunday. The date chosen corresponds to the importance that this day holds for Christian believers worldwide. Fourteen September marks the day in the fourth century when the mother of Constantine, Saint Helena, discovered the true cross in Jerusalem.
From the time Christ dies on the cross, Catholic life takes on a cruciform pattern. Among the reasons for this cross–shaped existence, three stand out. First, Christ died on the cross to save the human race from sin. Without the cross, each one of us would find no refuge from sin, no source of forgiveness, and enjoy no promise of immortality.
Second, a cruciform pattern of life commits us to practice the sanctification of suffering. Catholics do not court suffering, though when suffering arrives in their lives, they unite themselves to Jesus on the cross and they offer themselves in union with their Lord. The only rational alternatives to this saving acceptance of suffering is Stoicism or despair.
Third, the cross remains active in our lives today. The cross did not happen long ago with the result that we find ourselves separated by centuries from its power. The cross works for us now. It is important for Catholics to practice this presence of the cross when they are tempted to sin. As a sign of this presence, Catholics should embrace the cross. They should do this, especially when temptation strikes.