The cross has been an object of veneration in the Christian faith from the time of St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, early in the fourth century. Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Today’s second Mass reading, from the Letter to the Philippians, reminds us that we are called to have the same mindset of Jesus Christ, who
though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Veneration of the cross is more than simply gazing on what God has done for us through Jesus. It means more than merely reciting our prayers of adoration before the cross. Truly exalting the cross means putting on the mind of Jesus. It means taking up our own crosses and living lives in imitation of Christ. It means being Christ in the world.
Kneeling in front of the cross or processing with the cross singing praise is the easy part. Living in the light of the cross is the challenge.