The feast of the Triumph or the Exaltation of the Cross stems from the tradition that Emperor Constantine's mother, St. Helena, discovered the cross on which Jesus died, on September 14th, 320 A.D., in Jerusalem.
Initially, the triumph attributed to the cross functioned more within the "normal" understanding of that word: a victory won over another, achieved by violence of some sort. But is it not rather outrageous to speak of a cross as triumphant in that sense?
The crucifixion of Jesus is the great, divine paradox. The cross, an instrument of death, is transformed into our life-giving tree. Through the mystery of the cross, Christ crucified becomes our life and our light in the midst of the darkness. When all the commotion and frenzied activity of World Youth Day was over, I was convinced that one of the event’s lasting effects on Canada would be found in the simple, wooden cross. It was a huge blessing and a source of consolation to the hundreds of thousands of people who embraced it, touched it, kissed it, learned from it and allowed themselves to be touched by the awesome message and memory of the one who died upon it. To celebrate the triumph
of the cross is to acknowledge the full achievement of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus asks us to courageously choose a life similar to his own. Suffering cannot be avoided nor ignored by those who follow him. Following Jesus implies suffering and a cross. The mark of the Messiah becomes the mark of his disciples.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., C.E.O.,
Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
The Cross, a Bridge Thrown Across the Abyss of Death“Our Lord was trampled down by death but, in return, he cleared a way that crushes death. He submitted to death and underwent it willingly so as to destroy it in spite of itself. For, at death’s orders, our Lord “set out bearing his cross” (Jn 19,17). But he cried out on the cross and drew the dead from hell…He is the glorious “son of a carpenter” (Mt 13,55) who, on the chariot of his cross, has come up out of the insatiable jaws of the lodging place of the dead and has transferred humankind to the dwelling place of life (Col 1,13). And since, on account of the tree of paradise, humankind had fallen into the lodging place of the dead, it is on account of the tree of the cross that it has passed into the dwelling place of life. Bitterness had been grafted onto the wood of the former; but onto the latter sweetness has been grafted so that we might recognise in him the leader whom nothing created can resist.Glory to you! You have thrown your cross like a bridge over death so that men might cross it from the land of death to that of life… Glory to you! You clothed yourself with the body of mortal Adam and made it the source of life for all mortals. Yes, you are alive! For your torturers treated your life like sowers: they sowed your life in the depths of the earth as grain is sown so that it might rise up of itself and bring with it much fruit (Jn 12,24).Come, let us make of our love a great and all-embracing censer; let us pour out songs and prayers to him who made of his cross an incense to the Godhead and who has lavished bounty on us all by his blood.”- Saint Ephraim (c.306-373), deacon in Syria, Doctor of the Church Homily on our Lord