by Catherine Doherty.
September, the month of many feast days. Our Lady’s birthday. The Exaltation of the Cross. The Seven Sorrows of Mary. And others.
Yet mind and heart seem to be attracted to the CROSS. Perhaps because nature all around about bedecks itself at this time of year, in a blaze of glory and colors, perhaps to make a fitting background of all shades of gold and yellows—for the great feast of the Exaltation of the Cross—the Sign of our Salvation.
Who these days "exalts" the Cross in their souls, hearts, minds, and lives? Mankind in a frenzy of strange fears, spends its time and money to escape the Cross and all it stands for. Far from "exalting it" men want to abolish it, forget it, erase it from their lives.
Catholic mediocrity, that rests content with the minimum, or with individual sentimental piety in which the word "I" is so predominant, is mediocre and individual because souls—walking slowly the ways of spiritual life and growth—inevitably approach Golgotha and the Cross, and once both are seen clearly, fears enter in.
The stark nakedness of the Holy Wood, is a fearsome sight, and the fears it begets turn many from a full joyous Christian life, throwing them back into that spiritual mediocrity in which one can hide the Cross from oneself, for a while at least.
Yet the Lord does not permit this hiding to be of long duration—for never was there a century in which the Cross blazed so clearly or so high above the earth.
Strange this paradox, this eternal sign of contradiction! The salvation of the human race today and tomorrow, as yesterday, depends on accepting the exaltation of the Cross of Christ.
Modern rejection brings it, with its full weight, into the midst of the people. Acceptance would make it yield its sweet secret of lightness, love, and holy joy.
Strange and perverse generation! Madly we seek to escape its holy weight. By doing so we lie prostrate under all its pain.
For behold our fears, the ever-increasing darkness around about us, the ever-narrowing confines of the so called "free world", the ever-closer stench of the breath of the Beast. We try to throw off the weight of the Holy Wood, given to us for our salvation.
Oh Holy Wood! Whisper to us the secret hidden in you. Tell us of the Love that died in your embrace.
Tell us of the freedom and peace that you hold out to those who love you.
Show us how to exalt you within our fearful hearts, how to shape our loves on your Cruciformity!
You are the weapon that will save us from the Beast, who, like a roaring lion, seeks whom he may devour.
Oh Holy Cross! Speak to us of Him who loved us so much as to die on your reluctant breast. Speak so that we may learn to love in return -— and, ceasing to be mediocre, become holocausts of love, lifted up on you!
September, the month of many feasts, of nature singing her song of love in all the notes of a symphony of yellow and gold. A bride bedecked for her Beloved!
Let us, bedecking our souls in courage and love, exalt the Cross of Christ in our daily life. Then, and only then, will we know its sweet secret, its feathery weight, its everlasting joys.
—adapted from "Where Love Is, God Is," Restoration, September 1954
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