OUR SPECIAL DAY IN THE SON
Making the choice for parish patronal days is sometimes obvious. St Ignatius in Mobile, for example, or St Bede the Venerable in Montgomery, or St Martin of Tours in Troy—are all easy picks: after all, they have only one feast-day each: 31 July, 25 May, and 11 November.
Sometimes it’s a bit more complicated. St Peter’s in Montgomery, for example, could choose either the great solemnity on 29 June, or St Peter in Chains on 22 February. Think of the complications for St Mary in Mobile—SO MANY possible choices for a patronal day, running from 1 January (Mary, Mother of God) through 8 December (Immaculate Conception), and even to the Sunday between Christmas and New Year (Holy Family Sunday). But when it comes to our Lord, no one else takes the cake.
“Our Savior” can claim a myriad of dates for a patronal day, from Annunciation to Christmas to Holy Week to Easter to Ascension, and everything in between. Even other churches named for the Lord are limited: Christ the King in Daphne is locked into the last Sunday of “Ordinary Time,” and Holy Name of Jesus in Semmes is linked to 3 January. But someone (Fr Jennings? Fr Biven?) chose 14 September, the Exaltation of the Cross, as our feast. And this year we celebrate it on the nearest Sunday, 10 September, with a bi-lingual Mass and parish feast. But why this day?
Not having been a part of the choice, and never having heard the back-story, I can only conjecture. But in my view, it seems a wonderful choice because the Cross of Christ is (to quote my hero, Cardinal Newman) the measure of the world. It is here that we find whatever value and dignity we have, as creatures, as adopted children, as redeemed brothers and sisters, as heirs with Christ, as destined for glory. It all happens through the Cross of Christ.
Speaking personally, I am glad for this choice since it was on or about this date that another of my heroes, St Francis of Assisi, was “gifted” with the stigmata (the wounds of Christ in hands, feet, and side). They came to him while in prayer on the slopes of Mt Alverna. He bore these wounds in union with the sufferings of Christ for 2 years before he died. It was for him (and can be for us) a perpetual reminder of the price of our redemption, as St Paul and St Peter both say (I Corinthians 7:23; I Peter 1:17-19).
It is a price we must be willing to acknowledge and embrace, if we are to be faithful members of His Body. We haven’t paid the price, but we must be honest and recognize its extent and live lives of gratitude for the One who did pay it for us.
The Cross makes no sense without the Resurrection, certainly; but we cannot have a Resurrection without first passing through the Cross. Are we willing? Are we ready?
Happy Feast Day!