The Exaltation of the Cross

September 14, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 45:21-25 / Psalm 98 / Galatians 6:14-18 / John 12:31-36a / Reflection: The Story of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Evocation

Be exalted, O LORD, in your might;* 

we will sing and praise your power. 

Psalm 21:14

The Collect

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Hymn


Old Testament: Isaiah 45:21-25

Declare and present your case;

let them take counsel together!

Who told this long ago?

Who declared it of old?

Was it not I, the Lord?

There is no other god besides me,

a righteous God and a Saviour;

there is no one besides me.

Turn to me and be saved,

all the ends of the earth!

For I am God, and there is no other.

By myself I have sworn,

from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness

a word that shall not return:

“To me every knee shall bow,

every tongue shall swear.”

Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,

are righteousness and strength;

all who were incensed against him

shall come to him and be ashamed.

In the Lord all the offspring of Israel

shall triumph and glory.

The Response: Psalm 98

Cantate Domino

1 Sing to the Lord a new song, *

for he has done marvelous things.

2 With his right hand and his holy arm *

has he won for himself the victory.

3 The Lord has made known his victory; *

his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.

4 He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel, *

and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

5 [Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands; *

lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

6 Sing to the Lord with the harp, *

with the harp and the voice of song.

7 With trumpets and the sound of the horn *

shout with joy before the King, the Lord.

8 Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it, *

the lands and those who dwell therein.

9 Let the rivers clap their hands, *

and let the hills ring out with joy before the Lord,

when he comes to judge the earth.

10 In righteousness shall he judge the world *

and the peoples with equity.

Roma, Basilica di San Clemente, Abside Mosaico, Dettaglio

The Epistle: Galatians 6:14-18

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule– peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

The Mond Crucifixion by Raphael

The Gospel: John 12:31-36a

Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”

Всенощное бдение

Reflection: The Story of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross 

“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.” [1]

To this day, Christians “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.” [2]

“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.” [3]

“When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent over the people, it was a foreshadowing of the salvation through Jesus when He was lifted up on the Cross.” [4] In church, we sing “of the triumph of the Cross, the instrument of our redemption. To follow Christ we must take up His cross, follow Him and become obedient until death, even if it means death on the cross. We identify with Christ on the Cross and become co-redeemers, sharing in His cross.” [5]

“After prayer we make the Sign of the Cross to keep close to God. During trials and temptations our strength and protection is the Sign of the Cross. At Baptism we are sealed with the Sign of the Cross, signifying the fullness of redemption and that we belong to Christ. Let us look to the cross frequently, and realize that when we make the Sign of the Cross we give our entire self to God — mind, soul, heart, body, will, thoughts.” [6]

O cross, you are the glorious sign of victory.

May we share in the triumph of Christ Jesus.

A Prayer of the Reign of Christ 

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in thy well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Concluding Prayers of the Church

Almighty and everlasting God, who willed that our Savior should take upon Him our flesh and suffer death upon the Cross, that all mankind should follow the example of His great humility, mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of His patience and also be made partakers of His resurrection. Through the same Jesus Christ. Amen. 

(adapted from The Short Breviary)


Citations:

[1] Franciscan Media. (2020, August 01). Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Retrieved September 07, 2020, from https://www.franciscanmedia.org/exaltation-of-the-holy-cross/

[2] Ibid. 1

[3] Ibid. 1

[4] Catholic Culture. (n.d.). Exaltation of the Holy Cross – September 14, 2020 – Liturgical Calendar. Retrieved September 07, 2020, from https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2020-09-14

[5] Ibid. 4

[6] Ibid. 4

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