May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Every year, on September14th the Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. In the first century many men were condemned to die on a cross, this kind of death was one of the most ignominious, dishonoring and shameful deaths. Dying on a cross was also a malediction as it is writing in the book of Deuteronomy: “He is accursed of God that hangeth on a tree.” (Dt. 21:23) But when Jesus embraced, carried and died on the Cross he transformed the Cross into a blessing, a glory and though it He brought salvation, redemption and immortality for all of us.
On the day of our baptism we were marked with the Cross and we always begin the Eucharistic celebration and our daily activities by tracing the sign of the Cross upon us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: “The sign of the Cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace of the redemption Christ won for us by his Cross”.
Saint Paul tells us in the letter of the Corinthians: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength”. (1Corinthians 1)
For Saint Francis of Assisi Christ Crucified occupied a special place in his spirituality. It was on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on 1224 that he received stigmata in his hands, feet and side, for two years he carried in his body the sings of Jesus Crucified as he had carried in his heart for all his life after his conversion the image of the crucified.
After Francis many Franciscan saints love in a special way and center all their lives on Jesus crucified, among the saints is: Saint Clare, Saint Veronica Giuliani, Florida Cevoli, Fr Pio received mystical graces from the Crucified Lord. Saint Clare healed the sisters at San Damiano with the sign of the Cross, Saint Veronica and Father Pio received from the Lord Jesus the stigmata in their bodies, and for Blessed Florida Cevoli the signs of our Redemption were physically engraved in her heart.
The Catechism reminds us that the Cross is very necessary for our spiritual progress: “The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes”.( Catechism of the Catholic Church 2015)
Let us celebrate with joy this feast of the Holy Cross, and ssay with St Odilo: “The Cross is my refuge, my way and my life…. The Cross is my invincible weapon. The Cross repels all evil The Cross dispels the darkness”. The Lord’s Cross reminds us that all life is illumined by the light of Easter and that no situation is totally lost, for Christ conquered death and opened the way for us to true life. Redemption “is brought about in the sacrifice of Christ, by which man redeems the debt of sin and is reconciled to God” (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 11. 7).