Agnolo Gaddi, Florence, 1380.
This feast commemorates both the dedication of the basilica built by Constantine for the Holy Sepulcher, and also the return of the True Cross to Jerusalem by Emperor Heraclius of Judea during the seventh century. After Heraclius had recovered it by force from King Chosroes of Persia, he tried to carry it along the Via Dolorosa to Calvary, but was unable to make any headway. Bishop Zachary of Jerusalem, pointing to his luxurious clothing, said, "Attired in these rich robes, you are far from imitating the poverty of Jesus Christ and His humility in bearing His Cross." The Emperor caught the hint--and went on to Calvary barefooted and wearing a simple cloak, carried the holy Cross to the Basilica on Calvary [A.D. 629].
INTROIT Gal. 6:14But it is fitting that we should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is salvation, life, and resurrection for us, by whom we are saved and delivered.
Ps. 66:2. May God have mercy on us and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us; and may He have mercy upon us.
V. Glory be . . .
O God, today's feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross fills us each year with joy. May we, who have known its mystery on earth, also be worthy to enjoy in heaven the happiness which it has purchased for us. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord . . .
EPISTLE Philipp. 2:5-11
Brethren: For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause, God also hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
GRADUAL Philipp. 2:8, 9
For us Christ became obedient to death, even to death on a cross.
V. Therefore God also has exalted Him and has bestowed upon Him the name that is above every name.
Alleluia, alleluia! V.
O sweet wood, O sweet nails! O precious the burden suspended thereon! You alone are worthy to bear the king and Lord of heaven. Alleluia!
GOSPEL John 12:31-36
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, and the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither be goeth. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light."
By the sign of the holy cross, O Lord, protect Your people from the deceits of their every foe, that our service may be pleasing to You and our offering acceptable, alleluia!
O Lord our God, we are preparing to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought honor to the symbol of the cross. We are privileged to venerate this same holy cross; grant that we may also enjoy for all eternity the salvation it has purchased for us. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord . . .
Deliver us from our enemies, O God, by the sign of the cross.
Be close to us, O Lord our God, and with Your unfailing help defend those who rejoice in the glory of Your holy cross. Through our Lord . . .