Christ the King was raised up on the cross for our sake: come, let us adore him.
Liturgical Colour: Red.
|The Exaltation of the Cross|
What are these Christians about, exalting an instrument of torture?
First, we rejoice that something so terrible should have been transformed into a means of redemption for the whole human race.
Second, we remind ourselves of the fact that Christianity is not an abstract and spiritual religion. It springs from God’s direct intervention in the affairs of the world, a real historical event involving real people and, in the end, a real execution on a real cross. We may theorize and theologize all we like; but all our theorizings and theologizings are nothing without the history on which they are based. Take away that history – take away the Cross – and Christianity is nonsense.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: Saint Andrew of Crete (650? - 720/740?)|
St Andrew of Crete is of great importance in the Orthodox Church because he invented – or at least introduced into the liturgy – the canon, a new form of hymnody of which there is no sign before his time. Canons are huge, elaborately structured musical and poetic compositions. Andrew’s immense “Greek Canon”, for instance, is a hymn 250 verses long interspersed with litanies and odes, takes three hours to chant, and goes chronologically through the entire Old and New Testaments, showing examples of the need for repentance and conversion.
The canon, as a genre, has never taken real root in the rest of Christendom, but in addition to his achievements as a hymnographer Andrew was a noted preacher of sermons and discourses, and it is extracts from these that form some of our Second Readings. As might be expected from such a poet they are clear and inspiring, deriving their effect more from the arrangement of images and episodes so that one reflects and illuminates another, rather than from closely-argued pieces of reasoning.
Red is the colour of fire and of blood. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate the fire of the Holy Spirit (for instance, at Pentecost) and the blood of the martyrs.
|Other notes: Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321)|
Dante, who died on this day in 1321, is probably the greatest Catholic poet ever. “The Divine Comedy” is a massive poem narrating a journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise – it is simultaneously a vision, an imaginative poem, a spiritual journey, a commentary on life and politics, a deep work of psychology, and a synthesis of the then still revolutionary theology of St Thomas Aquinas.
Too many people think of “grim Dante” of the Inferno (Hell), the inventor of grotesque punishments, and that is all they know of and read. Fools! The horrors of Hell are the horrors of sin itself, sin stripped of the false romanticism we give it. It is where the journey starts from, not where it is going. The most human of the three books is the Purgatorio (Purgatory), where you see ordinary, fallible men and women – people like you and me – no longer able to sin, or wanting to, but still bearing the stain and being purged of it. Suffering there is, but there is also joy.
Incidentally, Dante was the first Italian to use a language other than Latin for serious work, and he is, more or less, the creator of Italian as a literary language.
In whatever way you decide to do it, read him – and pray that he may by now have found how inadequate even his most sublime vision was in comparison to the reality.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Hebrews 5:7-9 ©|
|He learned to obey and he became the source of eternal salvation|
During his life on earth, Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Ephesians 1:7-8 ©|
In Christ and through his blood we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins. Such is the richness of the grace which he has showered on us.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Peter 1:18-19 ©|
Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold, but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ.
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Office of Readings for The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Morning Prayer for The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Evening Prayer for The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
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