The Tree of Victory
The Empress Helena, according to tradition, discovered the Lord’s Cross in Jerusalem on September 14, 320. Five years later a great church was built on Mount Calvary by Emperor Constantine to shelter the holy relic. Parts of the wood of the Cross were sent to major cities of Christendom, where they were shown to the faithful on this special feast. “By this holy tree, you gave your people victory”.
Martyrs tell a wonderful story about the Church. On August 10th we remember Lawrence the Deacon, one of the most important martyrs of the early church. The day before, August 9, we remember Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, who died in a concentration camp in Auschwitz in 1942. We also remember Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan, who also died in Auschwitz about a year before her, August 14, 1941
An expert on early Christianity says that it wasn’t the bravery of the Christian Martyrs that impressed the Romans. What the Romans marveled at was how the Christian Martyrs approached death. They had other values. They saw themselves as citizens of another world. They followed Jesus Christ in how they lived. They believed in his promise of everlasting life. The Cross was for the Martyrs the Tree of Victory.
We recall how on September, 2017, Puerto Rico was hammered by a major storm. The Passionist Community there was deeply affected. Though they had been an independent community, they could no longer continue as such. From then on, the Pasionists in Puerto Rico were united with the Passionists in the Eastern U.S. That was a painful transition for all concerned. Today the new relationship has born fruit. The Passionists in the U.S. have grown young, since the Passionists in Puerto Rico are a young Community and share their youth. On the other hand, the Passionists in Puerto Rico have received new opportunities. What was a loss is now a gain. The Cross has given birth to New Life and claimed a New Victory.
“By this Holy Tree, You gave your people victory”.
Fr. Theodore Walsh, C.P.