Images of the Pontifical Mass on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Holy Cross Day) with the celebration of Confirmations. The service took place on Sunday 15 September at conclusion of the five-day mission led by Bishop Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford, in Houghton Regis.
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, usually celebrated on 14 September, recalls three historical events: the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine; the dedication of churches built by Constantine on the site of the Holy Sepulchre and Mount Calvary; and the restoration of the True Cross to Jerusalem by the emperor Heraclius II. However, in a deeper sense, the feast also celebrates the Holy Cross on which Our Lord Jesus Christ died as the instrument of our salvation. This instrument of torture, designed to degrade the worst of criminals, became the life-giving tree that reversed Adam's Original Sin.
Inscribed upon the Cross we see
in shining letters, 'God is love';
He bears our sins upon the tree;
He brings us mercy from above.
(Thomas Kelly, 1769 - 1855)
The Sacrament of Confirmation is a response to God’s love for us, and a special way of receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of the Bishop’s hands in preparation for a life of Christian faithfulness and service. Confirmation is also a step of personal faith: the candidates confirm that they take on for themselves the promises made at Baptism, confirming their faith and their membership of the body of Christ, the Church.