The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, on September 14, is a very important feast in the Holy Land: In Jerusalem, of course, where the Cross rose for the redemption of the world, and in other areas such as Galilee. The celebration for Christians is always a great demonstration of faith and the opportunity of doing processions and festivities.
All over in the universal Church rise up the acclamation: "The cross shines: the world is saved. Triumphant, it reign: it has conquered death, alleluia" (Third antiphon of Morning prayer).
In Carmel, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is colored by the renewal of our religious profession. And in this year of consecrated life it is good to take a moment to reflect on this aspect of the feast. From the primitive rule of Carmel in the thirteenth century, September 14 marks a step in the liturgical year with the resumption of monastic fasting, which will continue (except for Sundays of course) "until the feast of the resurrection of the Lord" (Rule 14). And to strengthen our commitment to follow Christ in his paschal mystery, we renew our vows of chastity, poverty and obedience in this day. It is also, as our Constitutions say, "a community witness of our religious consecration" since it is not a private act but a community renewal, inserted into the liturgical mystery. This renewal can take place at the Chapter with a celebration of the Word. The prioress then offers to her sisters a meditation on the meaning of this renewal. We have wonderful examples from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) who was charged several times by her prioress to write the meditation for this day. She expresses on it her deep conviction that religious life is a configuration, a radical following of Christ, an imitation of Christ in his Way of the Cross; Edith wrote in her meditation of 14 September 1940: "The happiness of being spouse of the consecrated soul and her fidelity have to be prove in the combats live in secret or in full light of her daily religious life. It is the Lamb immolated who she has chosen as her spouse [...] and if she extend herself more willingly on the cross [...], the more she will experience a deep union with the Crucified One. Thus, for her, her own crucifixion becomes the celebration of wedding" (Hidden Source)
We may think that our saints vibrated similarly in the approach of September 14 each year.
In our days the renewal of vows is often inserted into the Eucharistic liturgy which accentuates its character of testimony and associates it with the same oblation of Christ.
In this Teresian year we may offer ourselves again with an ever greater gratitude taking anewthe words of our Holy Mother Teresa:
"The Cross contains our life
And our sole solace:
Therein doth lie the only road
That leadeth to Paradise.
(Poem XXI, processional for the feast of the Holy Cross, September 14)