One of the great delights of being Catholic is the rich history of our faith. The feast we celebrate today, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrates the finding of the true cross of Jesus by St. Helena in 320 A.D. and the building of the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem by her son the emperor Constantine. September 14th has been celebrated as a feast in Jerusalem since the about the year 335 A.D. and throughout the universal Church since the year 720 A.D.
I find today’s feast to be a good reminder that we don’t live in a spiritual bubble separated from the world or the historical events of our past. Our entire faith is based on the historical fact that God became man, died on a cross and rose from the dead. These events happened in our world and were witnessed by real people.
Down through the ages men and women have passed on this faith in Jesus; through the Church, the use of Scripture, by the re-telling of the stories of the saints, by the witnessing of their own lives and even the handing down of physical objects like relics, art, and religious symbols. Relics of the true cross Jesus was crucified on can still be found and honored in churches throughout the world.
Technology, ‘bursting at the seams’ schedules, and a world that increasingly ridicules the Church as ‘backward’ and ‘unreasonable’ (which is false I might add), creates a difficult atmosphere to live out our faith. It becomes easier and easier to see faith as a crutch, a hobby, or a superstition for weak people who cannot face ‘reality’. But there is nothing more real, more sane, or more true than God himself. The closer we follow Christ the more rooted in reality we become.
Today we are reminded of the truth of the Cross. The truth that suffering is a reality in everyone’s life, that suffering has been redeemed not removed, and that as surely as Christ came to this earth, he will come again.