Rievaulx Abbey

Be careful…to reflect not only on the fact of this redemption but also on two other points: the manner in which this redemption was wrought, and the place in which it was wrought.

The manner of redemption is the suffering of the Cross; the place, outside the city.

Let us then learn from the Cross of Jesus our proper way of living.

Should I say ‘living’ or, instead, ‘dying’? Rather, both living and dying.

Dying to the world, living for God.

Dying to vices and living by the virtues.

Dying to the flesh, but liv­ing in the spirit.

Thus in the Cross of Christ there is death and in the Cross of Christ there is life.

The death of death is there, and the life of life.

The death of sins is there and the life of the virtues.

The death of the flesh is there, and the life of the spir­it.

But why did God choose this manner of death?

He chose it as both a mystery and an example.

In addition, he chose it because our sickness was such as to make such a remedy appropriate.

It was fitting that we who had fallen because of a tree might rise up because of a tree.

Fitting that the one who had con­quered by means of a tree might also be conquered by means of a tree.

Fitting that we who had eaten the fruit of death from a tree might be given the fruit of life from a tree.

And because we had fallen from the security of that most blessed place on earth into this great, expansive sea, it was fitting that wood should be made ready to carry us across it.

For no one cross­es the sea except on wood, or this world except on the Cross.

Let me say something now about the mystery contained in the manner of our redemption.

[…] When a Cross is set upright, the head is directed to heaven and the feet to earth, and the outstretched arms to what is located between heaven and earth.

[…] Do you see, now, the mystery in the kind of death Christ chose?

[…] St Paul says: He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross.

And, revealing the mystery, he says: Therefore God exalted him and gave him the name that is above all names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee might bend of those who are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.

Since, then, he was to take possession of heaven and earth through the Cross, on the Cross he embraced heaven and earth.

Aelred of Rievaulx (1110 – 1167): In Hebd. Sancta, sermon 36.1-2.4 (CCM 2A:294-295); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Palm Sunday, Year 2.