THE STORY OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
Early in the fourth century, Saint Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. She razed the second-century Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior’s tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher on that spot. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.
The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head: Then “all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on.”
To this day, the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica’s dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.
PRAYER BEFORE THE CROSS
Jesus, by this saving sign,
bless this listless soul of mine.
Jesus, by Thy feet nailed fast,
mend the missteps of my past.
Jesus, with Thy riven hands,
bend my will to love's demands.
Jesus, in Thy Heart laid bare,
warm my inner coldness there.
Jesus, by Thy thorn-crowned head,
still my pride till it is dead.
Jesus, by Thy muted tongue,
stay my words that hurt someone.
Jesus, by Thy tired eyes,
open mine to faith's surprise.
Jesus, by Thy fading breath,
keep me faithful until death.
Yes, Lord, by this saving sign,
save this wayward soul of mine.
PRAYER TO JESUS CRUCIFIED
Lord Jesus Christ,
I thank Thee for loving me so completely.
Thou didst embrace the Cross so willingly,
Thou didst hang there so patiently,
Thou didst suffere so painfully,
and for me, a sinner,
Thou didst die and rise again on the third day.
Now, Lord, I commend myself to Thy love,
to the power of Thy Passion,
to the depths of Thy endless mercy.
in Thy measureless pity,
keep alive in me the memory
of Thy Holy Wounds and bitter death.
defend me in all danger,
and keep me so that
I may stand before Thee in joy.
Protect my soul, Lord Jesus Christ,
which Thou hast bought with Thy Precious Blood. Amen.
O Cross of Christ, Immortal Tree
O Cross of Christ, immortal tree On which our Savior died,
The world is sheltered by your arms That bore the Crucified.
From bitter death and barren wood the tree of life is made;
Its branches bear unfailing fruit And leaves that never fade.
Give glory to the risen Christ And to his Cross give praise,
The sign of God's unfailing love, The hope of all our days.
PRAYER BEFORE THE CRUCIFIX
Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus
while before Your face I humbly kneel and,
with burning soul,
pray and beseech You
to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments
of faith, hope, and charity;
true contrition for my sins,
and a firm purpose of amendment.
While I contemplate,
with great love and tender pity,
Your five most precious wounds,
pondering over them within me
and calling to mind the words which David,
Your prophet, said to You, my Jesus:
“They have pierced My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones.”
PRAYER TO THE HOLY CROSS
Oh, Adorable Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you have suffered death on the Cross for our sins.
Oh, Holy Cross of Jesus, be my true light!
Oh, Holy Cross, fill my soul with good thoughts.
Oh, Holy Cross, ward off from me all things that are evil.
Oh, Holy Cross, ward off from me all dangers and deaths and give me life everlasting!
Oh, Crucified Jesus of Nazareth, have mercy on me now and forever.
In honour of the Precious Blood of Jesus, his death, resurrection and ascension which leads to everlasting life; true as Jesus was born on Christmas Day; true as Jesus was crucified on Good Friday; true as Joseph and Nicodemus took Jesus down from the cross and buried Him; true as Jesus ascended into Heaven; may He preserve me from my enemies visible and invisible forever.
Oh, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me! Mary and Joseph pray for me.
Lord Jesus Christ, through Your suffering the Cross grant me strength to bear my Cross without fear or dread and give me the grace that I may follow You. Amen.
PRAYER ON THE FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
O God, who willed that Your Only Begotten Son
should undergo the Cross to save the human race,
grant, we pray,
that we, who have known his mystery on earth,
may merit the grace of his redemption in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
God of Glory, The Cross shines as a sign of obedience to your will and a symbol of your love for the world. Bless us who find salvation in the cross of Christ; May we always recognise his glory in the weak, suffering and condemned of the world. We ask this through Christ, crucified and exalted, who is Lord forever and ever. Amen.