REFLECTION FOR THIS WEEK
Holy Cross Day
On Tuesday this week, the church celebrated Holy Cross Day, a day which celebrates the finding of the True Cross by St Helena in the year 327 and the restoration of the relic to Jerusalem after it had a temporary sojourn in Persia in the seventh century.
There are many relics of the Cross scattered across churches of the East and West: indeed, the cynical playwrite John Osborne in his play Luther of 1961 caused his character Luther to assert that there must be many tons of relics of the True Cross… Be that as it may, devotion to the relic (whether real or imagined) has been a powerful stimulus to prayer and contemplation for centuries, and far be it for any of us to cynically discredit an object of such intense devotion for so many people:
The fourth-century Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (who happened to be St Helena’s son) encountered a vision of the Cross at the Battle of Milvian Bridge: he was confronted with a vision of the Cross soaring above the sun and bearing the words In hoc signo vincit (in this sign, conquer). He won the battle, converted to Christianity, and eventually proclaimed the Roman Empire to be Christian. Indeed, we may echo Constantine’s joy ‘We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world’.
And so my time has come,
For far and wide they worship me,
The men of earth and all things made by God.
To this sign they address their prayers.
The Son of God suffered for a season,
And so in splendour now
I soar up to the skies.
Deacon Douglas Macmillan
Collect for Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity
we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers
of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive
and know what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.