Holy Cross Day


Does Jesus live in you?

I found myself asking that question repeatedly during this past week.  How does Jesus presence show itself in my life?

That’s what it means to be a Christian, isn’t it?  That Jesus, somehow, takes life in our lives?

I use, in my personal prayer life, The Saint Helena Breviary.  A breviary is simply a book of offices, in this case Matins, Diurnum, Vespers and Compline (- in English that’s just Morning Prayer, Noon Day Prayer, Evening Prayer and End of Day Prayer).  The Order of St. Helena is named after the Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, who is supposed to have found a remnant of the cross Jesus died on during excavations she oversaw in Jerusalem.

She built a shrine with two principal buildings where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands.  It consisted of a large basilica used for the Liturgy of the Word, and a circular church known as “The Resurrection” with its altar placed on the supposed site of Jesus’ tomb.  In the courtyard connecting these two buildings, to one side, you can see the Hill of Calvary.  The shrine was dedicated on September 14, 335.  Since then, September 14, yesterday, has been know as Holy Cross Day.

As you might imagine, Holy Cross Day is a big deal (more…)

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Well, today is Holy Cross Day.  And once again I was struck by Sam Portaro’s reflections.  He recounts a story (from Bishop William Wiedrich) about a conductor, directing a large group of percussionists raising his arms to cue the timpanists.  In the resulting din, he raised his arms again to silence them.  He then told them, “The music is in the drum, not the mallet.  One does not beat the music into the drum; one gently lets the mallet rise off the skin, as if the mallet were pulling sound from the kettle.”

He then continues:

The cross is like the music of the timpani; it is not something one puts on, but rather something that is coaxed out of us.  The wearing of the cross is not an accessory to life, but rather is the embrace of life itself. …Christians bear the cross within, in the daily embrace of all that it means to be human.  To be a Christian [is] to have the fullness of life coaxed out of oneself.

This gives a rather different feel to Sunday’s gospel inviting us to take up our crosses.