Today’s Feast on the Church’s calendar is our patronal feast. It is a celebration and commemoration of God’s greatest work: His saving death on the Cross and His Resurrection, through which death was defeated and the doors to Heaven opened. The entrance antiphon for the Mass on this Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is: “We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for He is our salvation, our life, and our resurrection: through Him we are saved and made free.”
Through the centuries, people of faith have always looked to the Cross in times of suffering. People in concentration camps, in prisons, in hospitals, during times of plagues and natural disasters, in any place of suffering and loneliness, have been known to draw, trace, or form Crosses and focus their eyes and hearts on them. Even during our own times, we do the same, but the Cross does not explain pain and misery; it does not give us any easy answers. It does,, however, help us to see our lives intimately united with Christ’s.
Almost out of habit, we make the Sign of the Cross over ourselves. We make it before prayer to help fix our minds and hearts on God. We make it after prayer, hoping to stay close to God. In trials and temptations, the Cross is a sign of strength and protection; it is the sign of the fullness of life that is ours. At Baptism, too, the Sign of the Cross is used; the priest, parents, and godparents make the sign on the forehead of the child. A sign made on the forehead, after all, is a sign of belonging. By the Sign of the Cross in Baptism, Jesus takes us as His own in a unique way.
Today, as we celebrate the patronal feast in our parish, let us look to the Cross often. Let us make the Sign of the Cross often and realize that, as we do so, we bring our whole selves to God—our minds, souls, bodies, wills, thoughts, hearts—everything we are and will become.
Let us pray. “Lord, help us rejoice that you died and rose—for us. Help us to gaze upon the Cross: the instrument of death that is now our source of strength and power. Help us exult that your love is stronger than death. As we dedicate ourselves to the well-being of all those suffering today, especially from wildfires, help us to lift high your Cross over every struggle. Strengthen our faith, our love, and our hope. We pray in your Holy Name. Amen.”