Exaltation of the Cross

September 14, 2011

September 14 marks the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, also known as the Triumph of the Cross.  In Dominican history, this day marked a shift from the relaxation of the summer months to a more strenuous observance, beginning what was known as the “Long Lent” or the “Great Monastic Fast.”

Fr. William Hinnebusch, in volume 1 of his History of the Dominican Order, wrote this, “Under the winter schedule, September 14 to Easter, the community fasted, eating only one meal a day, except on Sundays.*  It was taken about two in the afternoon.”

Moreover, the friars also began to wear the cappa in choir at this time until the great Easter Vigil where the cappa was, and still is, shed at the singing of the Gloria.  This had both practical and spiritual reasons.  Practically, the winter was cold, and the cappa provided extra warmth in the priory chapels.  Spiritually, the cappa was worn as a sign of penance, and so its being thrown off at the Gloria indicates that the time of penance and fasting is over for our Lord has conquered sin and death.

May we continue to remember that our Lord has conquered sin and death, and that the Holy Cross is a gift to us.

* This is compared to the summer schedule, Easter to September 14, where the friars ate two meals a day, every day except feast days.

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