On September 14, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. But why do we “exalt” the Cross?
The word “exalt” means to raise high, to lift up. So, in a sense, we are doing just that when we make the Sign of the Cross, when we venerate (kiss) a crucifix, or when we place a crucifix in a prominent place in our homes or churches. We are acknowledging that the Cross is important and that Jesus, who died on the Cross, is even more so.
The Sign of the Cross is one of the most basic and essential prayers in our toolbox as Christians. And it all begins with making the sign of the Cross on our bodies. In doing so, we are not only proclaiming our belief in the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—but also affirming our belief that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. The Sign of the Cross is a powerful reminder that we are never alone; God is always with us.
When we venerate (kiss) a crucifix, we are showing Jesus that we love Him and trust Him. We believe that He is truly present in His holy Sacrament of the Eucharist—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—and are not afraid to show Him how much we love Him. Venerating a crucifix is also a great reminder that Jesus died for love of us and that if we want to receive eternal life, we must follow in His footsteps by loving others as He loved us.
And finally, when we place a crucifix in a prominent place in our homes or churches—perhaps over our front door or above the altar—we are making it clear to everyone who enters that Christ is king and Savior and Lord. We are also proclaiming our belief that through Christ’s death and resurrection, He conquered sin and death once and for all.
So let us exalt the Cross today! Let us raise it high! Let us proclaim to all who will listen that Jesus Christ is Lord! Alleluia!