Tag Archives: Good Friday

On September 14 we celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross— Question: Why do we honor the Cross that Jesus died upon?

Celebrating Easter in NYC 1956                                                 public domain

By Larry Peterson

The wooden cross was used as an instrument of torture for the vilest of criminals, fastening them to it and allowing them to hang there until they died. So why do we honor and revere the Cross that Jesus died on?  Because Jesus Himself said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23) The cross for us is an instrument not only our own self-sacrifice but honoring it unites us to Christ on His Cross. We cannot get to the Resurrection without going first to the Cross.

Historically, (and according to Tradition) we know that after the Resurrection of Our Lord, the Jewish and Roman authorities did all that they could to hide Jesus’ tomb. The tomb and Calvary were very close to each other, and the Romans buried the sites under mounds of dirt so no one could find them. Underneath the tons of earth was also the True Cross. Over the next two centuries, pagan temples were built on the spot, and the site was more or less hidden and ignored.

Things changed dramatically in the year 306 A.D. That was when Constantine the Great became Emperor of Rome. In 313 A.D. he issued the Edict of Milan. This document approved of religious tolerance for Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Constantine’s mother, Saint Helena, dreamed that she must go to Jerusalem to find the True Cross. She followed this inspiration, and in 326 she made a pilgrimage to the city to visit the Holy Sepulchre and to locate the True Cross.

History tells us that a Jewish man by the name of Judas, aware of the tradition of the “Hidden Cross” knew where to find it. It was quite close to the spot Helena, and the workers were excavating to uncover the Holy Sepulchre.  He approached Helena and her workers to tell them he knew where it was. Helena, believing God had sent this man to her, gladly followed him.

The ruins, rubble, and dirt that had been accumulated on the spot over the years were painstakingly removed. In due time, three crosses were found on the site.  Tradition says that the sign with the inscription “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (“Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”) was still attached to the True Cross. (The more common tradition says that the sign was not there but was found close by). So what did they do to determine which was the True Cross?

Saint Helena and the Bishop of Jerusalem, Saint Macarius, decided to take a piece from each cross and take it to a dying woman. They assumed the wood from the True Cross would cure her. They were right, and the piece from the one cross did heal her. Then they brought the body of a dead man to the site and laid it on each of the crosses. The same cross that had cured the dying woman restored life to the dead man. Helena then knew in her heart that she had found the True Cross.

She journeyed back to Rome to inform her son, Constantine. He ordered two churches built; one at the site of the Holy Sepulchre and one at the site of Mount Calvary. The churches were dedicated on September 13 and 14 in the year 335.  The feast began to take root and spread out from Jerusalem to other provinces and by the year 720 A.D. the celebration was universal.

Today the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated all through Christendom. Most Catholic Rites such as the Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic, commemorate the day on September 14. The Syriac Church of the East celebrates it on September 13 while the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Catholics celebrate it on August 1. It does not really matter because all the various Catholic rites celebrate and honor the True Cross as founded by St. Helena in 326 A.D.

The Entrance Antiphon for the Mass on the Feast of the Exaltation (September 14) of the Holy Cross reads as follows:

“We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

In Whom is our salvation,  life, and Resurrection

Through Whom we are saved and delivered.”

Never forget that every time we make the Sign of the Cross we honor it and the Man-God that died on it.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

When Jesus Rose from the Dead where was the Blessed Mother? Ask Pope St. John Paul II

public domain

By Larry Peterson

When Easter morning arrived, someone was missing. That someone is the very lynchpin of the Salvation story. That someone is the Blessed Virgin, Mary. She is nowhere to be seen or heard. Where was she?

We will hear from the gospel of John 20:1-9 how —“Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciples He loved and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they have put Him.”

So where was Our Lady when Jesus rose from the dead?  She was His mother. She was nearby throughout the passion and watched Him carry His cross. She watched as they drove the nails through His hands and his feet.  She stood agonizingly and helplessly by as He was raised on the cross. For three hours she stood there watching every drop of blood leave her boy’s body. She was at the foot of the cross when He died.

The following week, on the Second Sunday of Easter ( Divine Mercy Sunday), the gospel is once again from John, this time 20: 19-31. This is when, with the doors locked,  Jesus appears to all of them (except “doubting”  Thomas). Once again, the Mother of our Savior is never mentioned.  Why is that?

No Mom should ever have to witness such cruelty heaped upon her own child. Who could have loved him more than she? Doesn’t it seem absolutely unquestionable that the first person who Jesus appeared to after He rose was His Mother? Yet there is not a single mention of the Blessed Virgin in the Resurrection narratives.

In the year 431 A.D, the Council of Ephesus affirmed the Dogma of the Divine Maternity. This explains to us that the greatness and majesty that was bestowed on Our Lady was wrapped into a bundle of pure Love from God.  He was the Father of her child. She was the Mom. Every drop of Jesus’s DNA comes from His Mom. The Father and Son are God. Jesus Christ is truly Human and Divine, separate yet one. Yet she is not mentioned in the Resurrection gospel readings.

From the CCC 496: Mary’s Virginity:

From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived “by the Holy Spirit without human seed.” The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own…

Back to the question; Where was our Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Risen Christ, Her only Child, on Easter Sunday? We can turn this question over to none other than Pope St. John Paul the Great. The Holy Father, speaking from Vatican City on May 21, 1997, said:

“The unique and special nature of the presence of the Virgin at Calvary, and her perfect union with the Son in his suffering on the Cross, seem to postulate a very particular participation on her part in the mystery of the Resurrection.”

“The Blessed Virgin, who was present at Calvary and at the Cenacle, “was probably also a privileged witness to the Resurrection of Christ, in this way completing her participation in all the essential moments of the paschal mystery. Embracing the risen Jesus, Mary is, in addition, a sign and anticipation of humanity, which hopes to reach its fulfillment in the resurrection of the dead.”

If Pope St. John Paul II says she was there; She was there—AMEN.

copyright© Larry Peterson 2019

Celebrating Easter in New York City 1956 How Times have changed

IT WAS 1956 AND A DIFFERENT TIME IN AMERICA

Celebrating Easter in NYC                                                              1956

A BLESSED AND HAPPY EASTER TO ALL