Lift high the Cross

From Fr Richard Norman


People and parishes across our constituency look forward each year to the celebration of patronal festivals; many of the Catholic societies of the constituency do likewise. The priest-brothers of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC), the post-Reformation Church of England’s oldest clerical fraternity, founded in 1855, celebrate both their anniversary of foundation (in February), and Holy Cross Day, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, on 14 September each year. 

This feast day commemorates three important events: the discovery of the True Cross by St Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine; the dedication of the Church of the Holy Selpuchre in 335, and the return of the True Cross to Jerusalem in the seventh-century, following its rescue from the Persian ruler Chosroës. Pious legend suggests that the Emperor Heraclius, returning to Jerusalem with the relic of the Cross, was unable to pass into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre until he had divested himself of his imperial attire, for the Cross of Christ reveals to us our innate poverty, and the riches of God’s grace.

The brethren of the SSC pray daily that we ‘should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection: through him we are saved and made free.’ Many Chapters of the Society will be planning suitable festivities for 14 September this year; but next year in 2019, the Chapter of St Justus & John Fisher in the Diocese of Rochester has arranged the use of the diocesan cathedral for a special celebration of our patronal festival, with Bishop Norman of Richborough. We hope that priests and people from nearby dioceses will also be able to join us, and/or that similar events might be organised elsewhere. Please put the date in your diaries now!

The Cross of Christ manifests the depth of God’s love for us, and in it we find inspiration and example for our own pattern of Christian living. Please pray for the priests of the Society of the Holy Cross, for aspirants to the Society and members of the Pusey Guild, and for an increase in priestly vocations. And please join us this year and next in celebrating this special festival, during which we ‘lift high the Cross, the love of Christ proclaim, ’til all the world adore His Sacred Name.

Father Richard Norman SSC The Vicar, St George’s Bickley