On Monday, September 14, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. This has a special meaning for us here at St. Mary’s, because a number of great men from our parish have taken upon themselves the project of constructing a new cross to sit atop our beautiful church, as the old one was deteriorating after years of service. Many people have told me that the sight of the cross, gleaming across the viaduct, signaled to weary commuters battling wind, and snow, and rain, that their sojourn was at an end. They were home. I love that image. So too, the new cross will be an exact replica of the first, and will be decorated in gold leaf, shining even more brightly than before, like a lighthouse giving direction to those who are lost on their journey. The old cross, however, is not at an end; it will be installed in our hall, so as to connect the two compounds that comprise St. Mary’s. Good things are worth waiting for, and so I hope you will be patient for this magnificent gift to arrive.
I’m sure you will agree that these are times that cry out for guidance, for light, for direction, for divine wisdom and grace. For very understandable reasons, people find themselves on edge, confused, and often at odds with their neighbors. Sad to say, this has taken a spiritual “toll,” inasmuch as conflicting voices express contradictory messages about what is good and evil, just and unjust, merciful or hostile. Like Peter walking on the water, hesitating in faith, and becoming frightened at the crashing waves, we call out, “Lord, save me!” and Jesus extends his hand, asking us only to believe.
Where do we find the wisdom to set the course of our earthly journey, and navigate the vicissitudes of life? The Cross, of course. A theologian friend of mine reminded me of a very important notion in Catholic spirituality, namely the lex crucis, or “law of the cross.” In short, it holds that the power of Christ’s saving death is such that it does not merely “cover over” evil, or work around it, or certain avoid it. No. The grace of God turns evil “upside down,” as it were, converting it into good. The worst humanity has to offer—death on a cross—becomes the vehicle that draws the human family even closer to God and to each other as well. You and I as Catholics are to show in our example, our love, our priorities, and our generosity, that Christ has worked such a transformation/conversion in us. As Jesus says, “When I am lifted up (on the cross) I shall draw all people to myself.” This, I argue, is where we find our consolation and strength.