The Exaltation of the Cross

It is no accident that Pope Benedict XVI begins his visit to Lebanon on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and I trust the prayers of all people of goodwill will accompany him. That frail figure dressed in white is vulnerable in a way most of us never experience . . .

Today we celebrate the triumph of the Cross, the victory of Life over death. It is a message of hope we badly need to hear, in the Middle East above all. Nearer home, the feast is often forgotten, just one of those names in the calendar people barely note. In monasteries this feast marks a turning-point. We begin the winter fast, often called the Little Lent, which will ensure that every Friday between now and Ash Wednesday will see us denying ourselves some food and drink in memory of the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the wounds dealt by sin are marked on His flesh for all eternity, so we too will mark our flesh with some small sacrifice in remembrance of Him. What else would you expect from ‘an incarnational religion’?