The Triumph of the Cross




Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I extend a very warm welcome to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral to each of you.  Today, particularly, members of the Catenian Association of Catholic men are present celebrating the Centenary of their Foundation.  Members of the Australian Catechumenate Forum are also here celebrating their biannual Conference. 

Today we celebrate the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross.  As Pope Benedict reminded us in Sydney in July there is only one standard by which Christian life is to be judged and it is the standard of the Cross. 

This was the constant teaching of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Jesuit Order, and it is against this standard that we call to mind our sins, preparing ourselves to gather in praise and thanksgiving at this celebration.


“Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim/’til all the world adore his sacred name.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These words from a very famous hymn express the powerful theme of today’s feast of the Triumph of the Cross.  Today we recall a historic event that was important in the life of the Christian Church and underline the importance of the reality of the Cross in the daily life of every Christian man and woman.  Whether in those leading a Christian family life, whether as members of the Catenians, or of faithful families, or those who work in preparing others to receive the gift of faith and Baptism in the Catholic Church, the total giving of the Cross where God made the ultimate sacrifice to demonstrate effectively his personal love for each of us, to free us from original sin and to offer us the risen life which we live in the Church nourished by its Sacraments as personal encounters with Christ until the day our earthly pilgrimage is ended.

In the words of the Holy Father at his Mass in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, with the Australian bishops, priests, consecrated religious and seminarians: “We know that in the end – as Saint Ignatius of Loyola saw so clearly – the only real ‘standard’ against which all human reality can be measured is the Cross and its message of an unmerited love which triumphs over evil, sin and death, creating new life and unfading joy.  The Cross reveals that we find ourselves only by giving our lives away, receiving God’s love as an unmerited gift and working to draw all men and women into the beauty of that love and the light of the truth which alone brings salvation to the world.”

Today’s feast indeed recalls the finding in Year 326 of the relics of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.  According to Saint John Chrysostom Saint Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, longed to find the cross of Christ and for this reason she travelled to Jerusalem where she organised a dig at the hill of Calvary.  The diggers uncovered three wooden crosses, two of which had no effect of healing a sick woman who was brought nearby and a dead man who was carried past.  These miracles clearly indicated that this was the cross of Christ.

Pope Benedict’s challenge that “we find ourselves only by giving our lives away, receiving God’s love as an unmerited gift and working to draw all men and women into the beauty of that love and the light of the truth, which alone brings salvation to the world”, highlights - for the Catenians especially - the importance of the life of witness and encouragement in the lives of others.  “Catena” is the Latin word for a chain, a link between persons.  Each Catenian Circle draws its members into unity of mind, heart and spirit. 

May the fellowship and constant sharing in Catholic and community endeavours in which you have participated for a hundred years be an invitation to that rich discovery of the power of the cross of which the Holy Father speaks.

In similar fashion I pay tribute to the time and expertise given by so many people working in the restored Catechumenate, which has existed in the Church since the Second Vatican Council and has been shaped particularly by the restoration of the ancient order of Christian Initiation of Adults published in Latin in 1972 and subsequently in English. 

This process involving immersion into the mysteries of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed, the Scriptures and Sacramental life has been a process which seeks to deepen the faith of those coming into the Church and thereby to enrich all of our parishes and communities with a deepened awareness of the dignity which they possess at Baptism and at the love and following of Christ which is the watchword of our earthly journey.

Leaders of the Catechumenate, I urge you to use the process well, and above all to make sure that the formation in the truths of faith given so articulately in the Catechism of the Catholic Church might be highlighted as an essential element in the process accompanying the liturgical and mystagogical rites of those who come to Baptism.

The cross reminds us that by focusing in Christ, knowing the mysteries of his life, the truths that he taught and the life to which he invited us, we may be sustained on our journey by the power of the cross made present and transforming in the Eucharist we celebrate.  May Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, bring us to eternal life.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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