The liturgical feasts of September 14 (the Exaltation of the Holy Cross) and 15 (The Seven Sorrowshttp://acatholiclife.blogspot.com/2005/09/memorial-of-our-lady-of-sorrows.html) present the same theme under an entirely different spiritual outlook:
- September 14th emphasizes Christ’s kingship; it praises the Cross as the sign of objective redemption and unfolds before our eyes the crux gemmata (the gemmed cross).
- September 15the portrays the human and suffering Christ with his co-sufferer, Mary of the Seven Sorrows.
The occasion of the feast of the Holy Cross was the finding of the True Cross on September 14, 320 by St. Helen, and the consecration of the church of the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem. Later on the “finding” received its special feast day on May 3, and the present date referred to the recovery of the Cross from the Persians by Emperor Heraclius in 628, who delivered the Cross to the patriarch Zacharias on May 3, 630. So there was a swapping of the occasion of the feasts.
Here the Church stresses the mystery of the Cross with full enthusiasm and love because She glorifies the sign of redemption. Why does she celebrates the feast at the start of the fall: the Cross is “raised” against the rising darkness, always the symbol of the power of hell. The Church “raises the sign of the Son of Man” which will appear at his Second Coming, and the expectation of the parousia is always connected with the Church’s Harvest time.
The Preface of the Holy Cross contrasts paradise’s tree of knowledge with Calvary’s tree of the Cross; on the one the devil is conquered, on the other he was conquered!
From a tree came death, from a tree also should come forth life. He who triumphed on a tree should also be defeated on a tree.The Power of the Cross
The Communion antiphon refers to the power of the Cross: “Through the sign of the Cross deliver us from our enemies, O our God!” The sign of the Cross has often been employed as an exorcism against the demons; the Latin Church also distributes holy Communion with this sacred sign. This sign is the most used sacramental, which we would make with much more devotion if we were conscious that it had sacramental power.