[One might call today’s Feast of the Triumph of the Cross the most oxymoronic of feasts since triumph and cross seem to contradict one another and yet are placed side by side. What seemed a complete defeat on Good Friday became victory when Easter Sunday saw the risen Lord appearing to the apostles and other disciples. Here follows a reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Phillipians and a prayer by mystic Saint Birgitta of Sweden (1303-1373)].
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
to the glory of God the Father.
that Jesus Christ is Lord!
Infinite glory to You, my Lord Jesus Christ!
For us, You humbly endured the Cross.
Your holy hands and feet were stretched out with rope.
Your hands and feet were secured with iron nails
to the wood of the cross, cruelly.
You were called “Traitor!”
You were ridiculed in many ways.
Unmentionable words were shouted at You,
and — all the while — that title of confusion
was inscribed above you.
Eternal praise to You, Lord
for each and every hour You suffered such terrible
bitterness and agony on the cross for us sinners!
The sharpest pains from Your wounds
penetrated Your happy soul and brutally ransacked
Your most Sacred Heart, until it cracked.
Then You sent Your spirit out happily
and bowed Your head humbly,
commending Your soul to the hands of God Your Father.
Then, having died in the body,
You remained there, cold on the cross.
May You be praised, my Lord!
By Your precious blood and holiest death,
You redeemed our souls and
Your mercy leads us back from exile to eternal life.
— Birgitta of Sweden, Prayers.
[Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.]