Greetings! On September 14th the Universal Church celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This feast commemorates the finding of the true cross by St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, who de-criminalized Christianity with the Edict of Milan in the year 313. This feast also celebrates the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death by His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.

            In the book of Genesis, among the many trees in the garden, two are mentioned specifically, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. Our first parents, Adam and Eve were told to stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but had free access to the tree of life. What kind of life? Divine life, or the very life of God. We call this sanctifying grace. We know what happened, not being satisfied with having access to the tree of life, they listened to the evil one and ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In other words, they rebelled against God, disobeyed Him, was banished from the garden and could not eat the fruit of the tree of life anymore. They lost access to source of sanctifying grace, which is God’s life in one’s soul.

            With the death of Jesus we once again have access to the tree of life. You might be wondering, what is the new tree of life? The cross is the new tree of life and the fruit of this tree is the blood and water that flowed from the side of Jesus. The water symbolizes baptism and blood the Eucharist. When we are baptized, we receive the very life of God, sanctifying grace into our souls for the first time. Every time we receive any of the sacraments, we receive grace, or God’s life into our souls. The Eucharist is different in that when we receive a consecrated host at Mass, in addition to receiving sanctifying grace into our souls, we receive the very Body and Blood and Human Soul of Jesus. The sacraments are the fruit of the new cross of life.

            We have a lot to be thankful for. My prayer is that all of you who are reading this letter, receive the sacraments as often as you can. The two we can receive most frequently are confession and Holy Communion. Let us not forget the power of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in church.

 Let us thank the Blessed Virgin Mary for saying yes when she was asked to be the Mother of God, because without her fiat or yes, we would not have the privilege of eating the fruit of the new tree of life. With the grace of the sacraments, may we never listen to the lies of the devil and other fallen angels and go off to other trees which have nothing but pain and death to offer. St. Helena, pray for us! The Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!