The Exaltation of the Cross – a Challenge for Human Reason? | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The Exaltation of the Cross – a Challenge for Human Reason?

“The Cross will always be a challenge for human reason, and suffering one of the main causes of atheism.” In stating this, Friar Artemio Vitores, who presided over the celebration of the Exaltation of the Cross at the Holy Sepulcher this September 14, also reminded the faithful who were present that, according to the Council’s declaration on non-Christian religions, “It is… the burden of the Church’s preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God’s all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows” (Nostra Aetate, 4), for, as he underlined “The Cross is the center of our faith.” Quoting Saint Cyrill of Jerusalem, Friar Artemio continued: “Do not be ashamed to confess the Cross… Perhaps we could be ashamed if, once crucified and laid in the tomb, Christ had remained enclosed, but after being crucified here on Golgotha, he ascended to heaven.” (Baptismal Catecheses, XIII, 36).

On this feast of the Exaltation of the Cross here in Jerusalem, in the Basilica of the Resurrection, the faithful who are present can experience more than any other person in the world that the Cross did not have the last word. The custodial vicar continued by saying: “Today, here on Golgotha, we have understood the value of Christ’s death on the cross: his crucified love was our salvation.” This scandal for the Jews, this madness for the Gentiles, was vanquished. The tomb is empty and Christ is risen. As the assembly contemplated a relic of the true Cross, it was a trophy that they exalted. And this trophy was offered to the crowd for veneration after the procession, which led them to the chapel of the apparition to Mary Magdalen. At times this trophy is heavy, for it is not enough to wear it around our neck. We must accept with joy that the cross weighs on our shoulders. “The Lord is inviting us to imitate the one we are following, choosing each day,” as Peter said: “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Pet 2:21) But that “yoke is easy and the burden is light” (Mt 11:30), for Christ tells us again: “Take courage; I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33)

In venerating the Cross, the recollected faithful could follow Saint Francis and say to Christ: “We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ… and we praise you, for by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.”
The celebration ended as it had been throughout in an atmosphere of prayerful joy in spite of the very numerous crowd of faithful.