The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption will begin offering First Friday Veneration of the True Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ beginning Friday, May 5 from noon to 1 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica, Covington. A relic of the True Cross will be shown for veneration in a special throne in front of the main altar for both faithful and pilgrims to venerate in prayer.
The First Friday veneration is brought to the Cathedral Basilica through the combined efforts of Father Ryan Maher, Cathedral rector, and Msgr. Gerald Twaddell, prior of the local section of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The relic has been made available by Father Jordan Hainsey, a Priest Knight of the Order and custos of Relics for the Diocese of Covington.
The relic will be shown in a new reliquary donated to the Cathedral Basilica for the monthly veneration. The cross reliquary features the traditional implements of the passion.
“People have prayed before the Cross of Jesus ever since the earliest days of the faith,” said Father Hainsey. “It is one of the oldest and most devout practices in the Christian tradition.”
“This is a great way for the faithful to continue to receive graces we received during Lent and at Easter,” said Father Maher. “In praying before the True Cross, we are paying the highest honor to the Lord through the instrument of our salvation. The Cross is inseparable from his sacrifice, so in reverencing his cross we, in effect, adore Christ himself.”
From the very beginning of Christianity, the cross of Jesus has been an object of special veneration. The Apostles considered it the most important object in their lives and in the life of the world.
“O precious Cross!” cried St. Andrew as he was being martyred, “How long have I desired thee! How warmly have I loved thee! How constantly have I sought thee!”
Saints throughout history have all identified the cross as the only path to salvation. “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we get to heaven,” wrote St. Rose of Lima.
St. John Vianney, patron of priests, observed: “Everything is a reminder of the Cross. We ourselves are made in the shape of a cross.”
Even St. Paul, patron saint of the Diocese of Covington, wrote to the Galatians: “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Gal 6:14).
“The cross is the symbol of our Order of the Holy Sepulchre, but more importantly, the cross is at the center of our faith,” said Msgr. Twaddell. “Whether one is able to spend five minutes or the whole hour praying before the True Cross, we hope people will come and take advantage of the opportunity to get closer to the Lord.”
The relic to be used in the First Friday veneration is from the same cross found in 324 A.D. by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine. Tradition holds that she found three crosses buried at Golgotha but didn’t know which was the one on which Jesus had been crucified. To test and see which was the true cross, members of her courtiers searched for a leper at the outskirts of Jerusalem. Once one was found, they returned to the site of Golgotha, where the leper was instructed to touch each of the crosses one by one. He touched the first one and then the second, but nothing happened. When he touched the third cross, the leper was instantly healed of his leprosy. From that time on, the cross was known as “The True Cross.”
As the years passed, tiny fragments were distributed to the care and protection of many Catholic churches around the world.
“The First Friday veneration will be held at the same hour as we have confessions,” said Father Maher. “I’m so pleased we can provide this opportunity for people to partake in both the Sacrament of Confession as well as be able to pray before the True Cross where they can unite not only their sufferings with the Lord, but also their joys and hopes.”
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