Velum shathrukalle ninaal njangal halleluiah…
Dveshikale medhichedum nin naamathil
Varikallil ninnum kathengale nee halleluiah…
Shathrukalle lajipichu (Kukliyon of the Cross)
“The sayings of the prophets foretold the holy Wood, whereby Adam was set free from the ancient curse of death. And today, at the Exaltation of the Cross, all creation raises its voice, asking of God plenteous mercy. O Master, who alone art boundless in compassion, be our atonement and save our souls!’ (Feast of the Veneration of the Cross)
Each year on the fourteenth of September, the faithful come together in her churches for a unique celebration bound up in mystery and paradox. In this season the Cross, that most horrible of tools, is hallowed in the centre of the church. The bishop/priest, taking the cross, processes to the centre of the church where, as through it he presents his blessing, the people intone a solemn ‘Lord, have mercy’. Christians “exalt” the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation. Adoration of the Cross is, thus, adoration of Jesus Christ, God and Man, who suffered and died on this instrument of torture for our redemption from sin and death. The cross represents the One Sacrifice by which Jesus Christ, obedient even unto death, accomplished our salvation. The cross is a symbolic summary of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ – all in one image.
On this great day, the precious Cross of Christ is not only venerated, it is exalted. It is elevated to the place of greatest honour, adored again and again as the ‘footstool’ by which Christ reigns over the universe. On this day, perhaps more than most other days, the full paradox of the Cross is loudly proclaimed: this instrument of most horrible death is become the ensign of victory and eternal life. The cruel weapon of torture and torment has been taken in the hand of God and transformed into the sword by which every enemy is defeated. The sword is raised, and the Devil is fallen. Without the Cross there is no Resurrection.
The Cross is power. The Cross is glory. The Cross is regal. The Cross is sweetness. The Cross is majestic. All these are wondrously foretold in the pages of a testament we call Old and all too often think of as ‘outdated’ or ‘outmoded’. But when the Church sings her hymns, and when she magnifies the precious and life-giving Cross, she turns her eyes to these images. It is with a heart immersed in this truly cosmic and eternal universality of the Cross that she exults: ‘The Cross is the guardian of the whole earth! The Cross is the beauty of the Church! The Cross is the strength of kings! The Cross is the support of the faithful! The Cross is the glory of the angels and the wounder of demons! We venerate Thy Cross, O Master, and we glorify Thy holy Resurrection!’.
The Cross – because of what it represents – is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. It has inspired both liturgical and private devotions: for example, the Sign of the Cross, which is an invocation of the Holy Trinity; the Sign of the Cross at the reading of the Gospel; and the Veneration of the Cross by the faithful on Good Friday. Placing a cross in churches and homes, in cars, or wearing this image on our persons, is a constant reminder – and witness – of Christ’s ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His suffering and dying on the Cross. We remember Our Lord’s words, “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it.” (Mt 10:38,39). Meditating on these words we unite ourselves – our souls and bodies — with His obedience and His sacrifice; and we rejoice in this inestimable gift through which we have the hope of salvation and the glory. Dying, you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life. Save us by your cross, Christ our Redeemer.