September 14th is one of my favorite feast days on the liturgical calendar: the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It seems paradoxical that Christians would “exalt a cross,” a form of cruel torture reserved in the ancient world for the most vile of criminals. But, as St. Paul said, we “glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” because it is through His Cross that we are saved from our sin and delivered to the hope of eternal life. Sin entered the world when our first parents ate of a tree—you remember the story of Adam and Eve. That first tree brought death, but this new tree, the Cross, brings life. As a prayer in today’s Mass says: Jesus hung upon the Cross so that “the evil one, who conquered on a tree, might likewise on a tree be conquered. ”The Sign of the Cross was probably the first prayer we learned as children, and this Sign of the Cross begins and ends our prayers still today. Crosses and crucifixes adorn our homes and churches. When gathered for meetings, a brother Knight rises, addresses the Worthy Officer, and makes a vertical hand salute, representing the tree of the Cross; the officer’s horizontal hand salute in return represents the arms of the Cross. It is right that, as Catholics and Knights, the Cross of Christ is never far from our eyes and hearts. As the line of an ancient hymn goes: Ave crux, spes unica (Hail to the Cross, our only hope).