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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Friday, 13 September 2013

SEPTEMBER 14th, 2013: THE FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS

The fact that the jewelled cross at the centre of the apse of Sant'Apollinare en Clase in Ravenna is an icon of the Transfiguration of Our Lord indicates the close connection between the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and that of the Transfiguration forty days earlier. In the Gospels, the Transfiguration scene is linked with St Peter's profession of faith, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God", and Christ foretelling his crucifixion and resurrection; and there are similarities between the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.   The mosaic in Sant'Apollinare en Clase of a jewelled cross with Christ's face at the centre is telling us that the "glory" that Peter, James and John witnessed is both the glory of the Son of the living God, and the Glory of the Cross: they are one and the same.   In our present life, the revelation of divine Light and the revelation of Christ's obedience unto death must be viewed separately, so that our minds can grasp the fact that God is Love, total self-giving.  That  is the life of the Blessed Trinity that, when translated into a human reality in the circumstances in which Christ lived as a human being on earth, it revealed itself in Christ crucified.   Only in the life of the resurrection will we see that the glory of Christ and the total self giving of Christ are one and the same thing.   It is a theme in St John that God the Father and Christ himself were most highly glorified on earth by Christ willingly suffering the most humiliating of deaths   Thus the Cross, an instrument of ritual humiliation and death became the throne of glory and the instrument of life. As St Irenaeus wrote: "The glory of God is man fully alive," alive with the very life of God,"   For this reason, we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Why on September 14th?   As I have to go to hospital today, I will rely on Scott P. Richert of AboutCatholicism:

History of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross:

After the death and resurrection of Christ, both the Jewish and Roman authorities in Jerusalem made efforts to obscure the Holy Sepulchre, Christ's tomb in the garden near the site of His crucifixion. The earth had been mounded up over the site, and pagan temples had been built on top of it. The Cross on which Christ had died had been hidden (tradition said) by the Jewish authorities somewhere in the vicinity.
According to tradition, first mentioned by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem in 348, Saint Helena, nearing the end of her life, decided under divine inspiration to travel to Jerusalem in 326 to excavate the Holy Sepulchre and attempt to locate the True Cross. A Jew by the name of Judas, aware of the tradition concerning the hiding of the Cross, led those excavating the Holy Sepulchre to the spot in which it was hidden.

Three crosses were found on the spot. According to one tradition, the inscription Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum ("Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews") remained attached to the True Cross. According to a more common tradition, however, the inscription was missing, and Saint Helena and Saint Macarius, the bishop of Jerusalem, assuming that one was the True Cross and the other two belonged to the thieves crucified alongside Christ, devised an experiment to determine which was the True Cross.

In one version of the latter tradition, the three crosses were taken to a woman who was near death; when she touched the True Cross, she was healed. In another, the body of a dead man was brought to the place where the three crosses were found, and laid upon each cross. The True Cross restored the dead man to life.

In celebration of the discovery of the Holy Cross, Constantine ordered the construction of churches at the site of the Holy Sepulchre and on Mount Calvary. Those churches were dedicated on September 13 and 14, 335, and shortly thereafter the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross began to be celebrated on the latter date. The feast slowly spread from Jerusalem to other churches, until, by the year 720, the celebration was universal.

In the early seventh century, the Persians conquered Jerusalem, and the Persian king Khosrau II captured the True Cross and took it back to Persia. After Khosrau's defeat by Emperor Heraclius II, Khosrau's own son had him assassinated in 628 and returned the True Cross to Heraclius. In 629, Heraclius, having initially taken the True Cross to Constantinople, decided to restore it to Jerusalem. Tradition says that he carried the Cross on his own back, but when he attempted to enter the church on Mount Calvary, a strange force stopped him. Patriarch Zacharias of Jerusalem, seeing the emperor struggling, advised him to take off his royal robes and crown and to dress in a penitential robe instead. As soon as Heraclius took Zacharias' advice, he was able to carry the True Cross into the church.

For some centuries, a second feast, the Invention of the Cross, was celebrated on May 3 in the Roman and Gallican churches, following a tradition that marked that date as the day on which Saint Helena discovered the True Cross. In Jerusalem, however, the finding of the Cross was celebrated from the beginning on September 14.

I suggest you look up the collection of posts and videos on the Transfiguration
here.  
In the same place, I advise you to look at the eleven videos from Italian Catholic television on the Creed, illustrated by the mosaics in the wonderful cathedral of Monreale in Sicily .   There are also posts on the Jesus Prayer, on icons etc.

All you have to do is to click "here" above.   It will take you to the home page of Ecclesial Peace.   Scroll down to the lists of posts, all clearly marked according to subject.   Click on the title of any post you like.   I shall be back at the end of next week.   Please say a little prayer.

Another post I recommend is by Father Stephen Freeman, an Orthodox American priest whose blog "Glory To God For All Things" is always worth reading.   This post is about why Christ had to die for us, and has been written to coincide with the Feast of the Holy Cross.  Please click here


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