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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

The Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Feast Days, The Cross

The Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ*

for post on the precious and life-giving cross of Christ

How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise but opens the way for our return.

This was the tree on which Christ, like a king on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny. This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in his hands, feet, and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature. A tree once caused our death, but now a tree brings life. Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree. What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality, that shame should become glory! Well might the holy Apostle exclaim: Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world! [cf Galatians 6:14] The supreme wisdom that flowered on the cross has shown the folly of worldly wisdom’s pride. The knowledge of all good, which is the fruit of the cross, has cut away the shoots of wickedness.

The wonders accomplished through this tree were foreshadowed clearly even by the mere types and figures that existed in the past. Meditate on these, if you are eager to learn. Was it not the wood of a tree that enabled Noah, at God’s command, to escape the destruction of the flood together with his sons, his wife, his sons’ wives and every kind of animal? And surely the rod of Moses prefigured the cross when it changed water into blood, swallowed up the false serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians, divided the sea at one stroke and then restored the waters to their normal course, drowning the enemy and saving God’s own people? Aaron’s rod, which blossomed in one day in proof of his true priesthood, was another figure of the cross, and did not Abraham foreshadow the cross when he bound his son Isaac and placed him on the pile of wood?

By the cross, death was slain and Adam was restored to life. The cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the sanctification of the saints. By the cross, we put on Christ and cast aside our former self. By the cross, we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfolds of heaven.

* From a sermon by Saint Theodore the Studite: Oratio in adorationem crucis: PG 99, 691-694, 695,698-99.

 

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Art for this post: Crucifixion, Anthony van Dyck, circa 1622, PD-US author's life plus 100 years or less; Detail of St Theodore the Studite mosaic from Nea Moni monastery in Chios, author anonymous, 11th century, PD-US author's life plus 70 years or less Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Anneli Sinkko

    On the cross our Lord Jesus suffered the ultimate pain of being separate from his Father being tormented not only by physical pain or humiliation but also by onslaught of the sin of the world – how he and God the Father must have suffered. Only God the Holy Spirit kept their union together bringing into completion the Love of God.

  • LizEst

    No, olhg1, the official Church title is “Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross”: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091417.cfm It is also celebrated as the “Triumph of the Cross” in the Breviary or Liturgy of the Hours. It is by means of the Cross that Christ won our salvation. We invite you to read over our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here, particularly question number four and its subquestions: http://www.spiritualdirection.com/frequently-asked-questions

  • marybernadette

    When I survey the Wondrous Cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my Pride. AMEN

  • Desert Sun Art

    Jesus triumphed OVER death, through the Cross, not over the cross. Our Lord embraced the Cross and told us to do the same. If you are Catholic, you need to learn more about the Gospels and the Faith.

  • LizEst

    Thank you, Gary. So true! For future comments, we invite you to please kindly read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here: especially question 4 and its sub-questions: http://www.spiritualdirection.com/frequently-asked-questions

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