REFLECT ON THE SACRED FOOTSTEPS OF JESUS
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We’d like to invite you to reflect on the Sacred Place of Jesus' Passion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection during this season. This free eBook will guide you through the footsteps of Christ during the Feast of the Exaltation, and help you find the common heart and love of Christ shared among all men and women of faith. Use the form below to tell us where to send your free eBook, In the Footsteps of Jesus.
When we honor, or exalt, the Cross, Christians are primarily acknowledging Christ Himself (2nd Council of Nicaea). The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,
The Council of Trent emphasizes the unique character of Christ's sacrifice as "the source of eternal salvation" and teaches that "his most holy Passion on the wood of the cross merited justification for us." And the Church venerates his cross as she sings: "Hail, O Cross, our only hope" (CCC 617).
As well as celebrating the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross commemorates two historical events. The first is the discovery in 320 AD of the True Cross, of Calvary and of the tomb of Christ by St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, which the Romans had buried under a Temple to Venus. The second is the dedication of a church on the site in 335 AD. Today this church, in continuous existence since then, is known as the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, and houses Calvary, the Tomb of Jesus and the cistern in which St. Helena found the instruments of the Passion, including the Cross.
1 Cor. 1:22–24 (St. Paul) For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God... For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Prior to His Crucifixion, Our Lord spoke of His death on the Cross several times to His disciples, first in allusions, and then directly.
Matthew 10:37-38 “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Mt. 16;24 “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”
Mt. 20:18–19 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Mt. 26:2 You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
Known as the Seven Last Words, these are the phrases that Our Lord spoke according to the Gospel accounts of His crucifixion.
- Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
- Luke 23:43: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
- John 19:26–27: (To the Blessed Virgin) “Woman, behold, your son!” (To St. John) “Behold, your mother!”
- Matthew 27:46 (and Mark 15:34): “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
- John 19:28: “I thirst.”
- John 19:30: “It is finished.”
- Luke 23:46: “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!”
First Station: Jesus Is Condemned to Death
Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross
Third Station: Jesus Falls for The First Time
Fourth Station:Jesus Meets His Afflicted Mother
Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
Seventh Station: Jesus Falls a Second Time
Eighth Station: Jesus Speaks to The Holy Women
Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time
Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to The Cross
Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies On the Cross
Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Laid in the Sepulcher
“Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.” – Saint Rose of Lima
The three crosses represent the Cross of Jesus, as well as the crosses of the two thieves who died on either side of Him. Tradition gives the name of one of the thieves as Dismas, calling him the Good Thief, since he repented in the last moments of his life and received salvation.
Luke 23:32-43 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him,[c] “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingly power.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The Cross represents the truth that Jesus sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world. Sadly, many people reject Jesus and His Cross. Regarding this, St. Paul says,
1 Cor. 1:18-25. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
“Everything is a reminder of the Cross. We ourselves are made in the shape of a cross.” – St John Vianney
The Latin initials INRI represent “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum" (Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews). In keeping with Roman crucifixion practices, Pilate had Christ’s name and “crime against Rome” nailed to the cross as a warning to others. This “titulum” was among the items St. Helena discovered in Jerusalem, and it is preserved along with other relics of the Passion in the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem in Rome.
John 19:19 Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
St. Helena was the wife of the Emperor Constantius and mother of the Emperor Constantine. Sometime after her son’s reign began, she converted and sought to find the place where the Lord died and was buried. Going to Jerusalem she obtained the assistance of the Bishop of Jerusalem, St. Macarius, who informed her of the local tradition that the Temple of Venus sat on the spot. Having it torn down, she found underneath the places of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, as well as the instruments of His Passion.
“In difficult moments, I will fix my gaze upon the silent Heart of Jesus stretched on the Cross, and from the exploding flames of His merciful Heart, will flow down upon me power and strength to keep fighting.” – St. Faustina
While significant pieces of the Cross are kept in Rome at the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, over the centuries a great many fragments have also been distributed as holy relics, both to churches and to individuals.
The Cross is venerated––whether as the historical reality spoken of in Scripture, as a relic of wood, or as a physical representation with the image of Christ, solely because of Who was crucified on it, and what He accomplished by means of it. By itself it is, as St. Paul wrote, a scandal and foolishness.
Relics of the Crown are found in various places including Rome. The best known, however, is in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. In the fire of 2019 which almost destroyed Notre Dame it was successfully rescued before the roof collapsed.
“Have great confidence in God’s goodness and mercy, and He will never abandon you; but don't neglect to embrace His holy cross because of this.” ~ St. Padre Pio