The Church's Year
INSTRUCTION OF THE FEAST OF
THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY
From what does this feast derive its
From the yearly commemoration of the erection of
the holy cross, at Jerusalem, by Constantine the Great, son of St.
When was this festival celebrated with especial
When the Cross which Cosroes, King of the
Persians, had captured at the conquest of Jerusalem, and had for
forty years in his power, was recaptured by the Emperor Heraclius,
who carried it himself on his own shoulders to Mount Calvary into
the Church of the Holy Cross.
What miracle occurred on this
When the emperor wished to carry the Cross on his
own shoulders to Jerusalem, at the entrance of the city he stopped
suddenly, finding it impossible to proceed. The patriarch Zachary
suggested to him to lay aside his imperial garments which did
not accord with the humble appearance which Christ made when He
bore His cross through the streets of that city. Hereupon the
emperor laid aside his purple, crown and shoes, and devoutly
proceeded with the cross to its appointed place.
Let us learn from this, how the divine Saviour
dislikes extravagance in dress, and how in all humility and poverty
we should follow Him who was poor and humble.
[For further Instruction on the Holy Cross, as
also the Epistle of this day, see the Festival of the Finding of the
COLLECT O God, who dost gladden us
this day with the yearly solemnity of the exaltation of the Holy
Cross: grant, we beseech Thee, that as we have learnt to know its
mystery on earth, so we may merit to taste in Heaven the reward of
its redemption. Thro.' &c.
XII. 31-36) AT THAT TIME, Jesus said to the multitudes of the Jews: Now is the
judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be
cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all
things to myself. (Now this he said, signifying what death he should
die.) The multitude answered him: We have heard out of the law, that
Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou: The Son of man must be
lifted up? Who is this Son of man? Jesus therefore said to them: Yet
a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the
light, that the darkness overtake you not: and he that walketh in
darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. Whilst you have the light,
believe in the light, that you may be the children of
SHORT INSTRUCTION ON THE WAY
OF THE CROSS
What is meant by the Way of the
THE Way of the Cross is a devotion, approved by
the Pope, by which we meditate upon the passion and death of Christ,
and especially upon His last way of sorrow to Mount
How did this devotion originate?
pathway which our Lord Jesus Christ had to follow from
Jerusalem to Mount Calvary, was the real Way of the Cross. His holy
Mother, and other pious women, as also the beloved disciple St.
John, followed Him on this painful journey; (Matt, XXVII.
56. John XIX. 25, 26.) and the apostles and early
Christians animated by veneration for these places, made sacred by
the sufferings and death of Jesus, often traversed the same pathway.
In the same spirit, in later times, many came from the most distant
countries to Jerusalem to visit these sacred places to increase
their devotion. In time, pictures, representing different scenes of the sufferings of our Lord, were
erected along this route, and were called Stations; when the
Saracens conquered the Holy Land, in consequence of which
visits to it became dangerous, almost impossible, the Roman pontiffs
permitted the erection of stations of the cross in other countries.
The first to erect stations in their churches were members of the
Franciscan Order, and by degrees this devotion, supported by
the Roman pontiffs and favored by indulgences, spread throughout the
entire Church. A pathway was sought which led to elevated ground;
this elevation was called the Mount of the Cross or Mount Calvary,
and along the route pictures representing our Lord's sufferings, as
related by the evangelists, or made known by tradition, were
erected, or else the pictures were hung in churches, and the place
where they stood, or the pictures themselves, were called stations;
of these there are fourteen.
Is the practice of this devotion of the Way of the
Cross of great value?
Next to the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and holy
Communion, there is certainly no devotion which represents
better to us the sufferings and death of Christ than the Way of the
Cross. St. Albertus Magnus says: "A simple remembrance of Christ's
sufferings is worth more than fasting on bread and water every
Friday for a year, and scourging one's self unto blood." St.
Bernard gives us the reason of this, when he says: "Who can consider
the sufferings of Christ and be so void of religion as to remain
untouched; so proud that he will not humble himself; so
vindictive that he will not forgive; so fond of pleasure that
he will not abstain from it; so hard-hearted that he will not repent
of his sins?" And St. Augustine says: "What pride, what avarice,
what anger can be cured otherwise than by the humility, the poverty,
the patience of the Son of God? All these virtues are found in
carefully meditating on that way of pain which our Saviour
went, and along which we should follow Him." On this account
several of the Popes, among others Clement XII. and
Benedict XIV., have granted many indulgences to the
performance of this devotion; indulgences which may be applied
to the suffering souls in purgatory.
[For the manner of meditating on the sufferings
of Christ, see the
Instruction on Good Friday.]