This Sunday the Church commemorates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and Deacon Greg's homily beautifully explains why the cross means so much to the faithful:
Fr. Jim Schmitmeyer is a priest and writer from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and in one of his books he describes the last days of his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s.
“Everything had grown completely strange to her and nothing was familiar,” he wrote. She no longer recognized anyone, didn’t know where she was, and only spoke a few phrases in German, the language of her youth.
On the night she lay dying, the family was called. Before heading out the door to the nursing home to say goodbye, her daughter thought to bring something sacred: a small wooden crucifix hanging on the bedroom wall.
Fr. Schmitmeyer wrote of what happened next:
“In a world where my grandmother knew nothing else, she recognized the crucifix! She reached for the cross and held it close to her until she died later that evening.”
“I am convinced that, on some deep level, in that part of us that we call the soul, we recognize the power of Christ’s cross because we retain a memory of human love….Love remains.”
And it is love that, on this particular Sunday, we embrace as surely as a dying woman embraced that crucifix.
Because, fundamentally, we are people of the cross.
We are people who recognize it as the greatest sign of the greatest sacrifice, the greatest love, the world has ever known.
Yes: we are people of the cross.
It may seem strange to some people that we celebrate it, that we “exalt” Christ’s cross—an instrument of death.
But this is the great mystery of the cross: Christ transformed that instrument of death into a source of life. That is what we celebrate. We are a part of it. And it is a part of us.
We are people of the cross.
It begins at the beginning.
Read the whole thing. It's worthy.
Cross my heart.