Ecce Lignum Crucis, Behold the Wood of the Cross

Collected here are three passages on the Cross of our Lord. The Holy Cross plays a key role in the spirituality of our Congregation, but especially in that it was through this terrible instrument that God chose to fashion the means for our salvation. Behold the wood of the Cross on which was hung our salvation. Hail the Cross, our only hope.

Pope Francis

Christ carrying the cross

Homily on April 8, 2014. Exerpted from

Christianity is not a philosophical doctrine, it’s not a programme for life survival or education, or for peacemaking. These are consequences. Christianity is a person, a person raised on the Cross, a person who annihilated himself to save us, who became sin. Just as sin was raised up in the desert, here God who was made man and made sin for us was raised up. All our sins were there. You cannot understand Christianity without understanding this profound humiliation of the Son of God who humbled himself and became a servant unto death, even death on a cross, in order to serve us.

The Cross is not an ornament that we must always put in the churches, there on the altar. It is not a symbol that distinguishes us from others. The Cross is mystery, the mystery of God who humbles himself, he becomes ‘nothing.’ He becomes sin. Where is your sin? ‘I don’t know, I have so many here.’ No, your sin is there, in the Cross. Go and find it there, in the wounds of the Lord and your sins will be healed, your wounds will be healed, your sins will be forgiven. The forgiveness that God gives us is not the same as cancelling a debt that we have with Him, the forgiveness that God gives us are the wounds of his Son on the Cross, raised up on the Cross. May he draw us towards Him and may we allow ourselves to be healed by him.

St. Gregory Nazianzen


Oration XLV:XXIV

If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up the Cross and follow. If you are crucified with Him as a robber, acknowledge God as a penitent robber. If even He was numbered among the transgressors for you and your sin, do you become law-abiding for His sake?

Worship Him Who was hanged for you, even if you yourself are hanging; make some gain even from your wickedness; purchase salvation by your death; enter with Jesus into Paradise, so that you may learn from what you have fallen. Contemplate the glories that are there; let the murderer die outside with his blasphemies;

and if you be a Joseph of Arimathæa, beg the Body from him that crucified Him, make your own that which cleanses the world. If you be a Nicodemus, the worshipper of God by night, bury Him with spices. If you be a Mary, or another Mary, or a Salome, or a Joanna, weep in the early morning. Be first to see the stone taken away, and perhaps you will see the Angels and Jesus Himself. Say something; hear His Voice. If He say to you, Touch Me not, stand afar off; reverence the Word, but grieve not; for He knows those to whom He appears first.

Keep the feast of the Resurrection; come to the aid of Eve who was first to fall, of Her who first embraced the Christ, and made Him known to the disciples. Be a Peter or a John; hasten to the Sepulchre, running together, running against one another, vying in the noble race. And even if you be beaten in speed, win the victory of zeal; not Looking into the tomb, but Going in.

And if, like a Thomas, you were left out when the disciples were assembled to whom Christ shows Himself, when you do see Him be not faithless; and if you do not believe, then believe those who tell you; and if you cannot believe them either, then have confidence in the print of the nails. If He descend into Hell, descend with Him. Learn to know the mysteries of Christ there also, what is the providential purpose of the twofold descent, to save all men absolutely by His manifestation, or there too only them that believe.

Blessed Basil Moreau


from Circular Letter 34: June 19, 1848

For those who live by faith, the Cross is a treasure more valuable than gold or precious stones. If we were truly equal to our vocation, we would be more easer to receive these trials than a piece of the very wood which out savior sanctified by his Blood.

Let us not allow ourselves, therefore, to be discouraged by trials, no matter how numerous or bitter they may be. Afflictions, setbacks, loss of friends, privations of every kind, sickness, even death itself, “the evil of each day” (Mt. 6:34), and the troubles of each hour, all these are so many relics of the sacred wood of the True Cross which we must cherish and venerate. We must place them in a reliquary worthy of the gold of “charity which is patient (1 Cor 13),” resigned, generous, “which suffers all things and supports all things,” in union with the Divine Master, in view of satisfying his justice.

from Circular Letter 79: January 1, 1857

Allow me, then, to remind you of those serious warnings of the Gospel which the sensuality of our age tends more and more to forget. Allow me to desire that yours will be the heritage of Jesus Christ, and that which his saints, of whom we are the children, have bequeathed to us. It is a heritage of humiliation, poverty and suffering; of trials, temptations, labors, and persecutions of all kinds.

In vain shall we seek any way leading to heaven other than that of Calvary. The whole teaching of the Gospel is summed up in the science of the “folly of the cross” which St. Paul announced to the Gentiles when he preached to them only “Jesus and Jesus crucified, a scandal to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles. (1 Cor 1:23)” Would it be proper, then, for us who aspire to walk in the footsteps of so many illustrious models, to refuse the burden of the cross which they have so gloriously carried?

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