Lift high the cross!  The love of Christ proclaim,

till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Come, Christians, follow where the Master trod,

Our King victorious, Christ the Son of God.

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,

the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.

Each newborn servant of the Crucified

bears on their brow the seal of Him Who died.

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,

as Thou hast promised, draw the world to Thee.

So shall our song of triumph ever be:

Praise to the Crucified for victory!

(George William Kitchin, rev. by Michael Robert Newbolt)St. Dominic with cross

14 September is the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, or Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.  This day is dedicated to the cross as the instrument of our salvation.  It is reminiscent of Good Friday’s Veneration of the Cross.  It is also a reminder to Christians that we are to imitate our Savior by carrying our own crosses in life and by doing so joyfully and with devotion.

Our pastor today reminded us at today’s vigil Mass that the cross is more than just a symbol or an ornament–it is part of our identity as Christians. The deacon who gave the homily began by quoting the refrain of the hymn above, which is often associated with this feast day.  He spoke of how bizarre and disturbing non-Christians sometimes find it that we revere an object associated with torment and death.  But Christians look at the cross through the eyes of faith and love–faith and love being two of the most awesome transformative powers in the world.

When we carry our own crosses, we often find the entire world likewise transformed.  It can be difficult to do.  Earlier today, when I was drowning in grief, I just wanted it all to go away.  I just wanted to drop that cross of mine, to get out from under it, to reject it completely.  I tried to do that, but I realized that the only place I had to run to was even deeper into misery!  When we reject our crosses, we reject Christ.  And when we reject Christ, we reject life, love, truth, hope, and every good thing.  We just end up turning in on ourselves, retreating into ourselves, and we find ourselves full of miseries, faults, weakness, and emptiness… and usually lots of denial, too.

Carrying our crosses may be difficult and perhaps even revulsive at times.  But it is in those moments of shrinking and fainting that we often feel the power of Christ within us, if only we believe, if only we strive.  We have Mary and the Saints to show us the way and give us their support as well.  As I mentioned, when I am in the midst of grief and feel like I have no consolation, no relief, nobody to rescue me–I turn to Mary, and she brings me to Christ.  We are never alone in our struggles!

Let us today renew our dedication to Christ and to the crosses He gives each of us.  Let us strive to carry them joyfully and make ourselves more like Him.  Let us regard the cross as part of who we are, as part of our identity–and proudly lift it high!