behold the wood of the cross

The emotional heaviness of the Good Friday liturgy draws us into the darkness of that day. From the suffering servant  reading from Isaiah (52:13-53:12) to the passion reading from the gospel of John, we are immersed in images of betrayal, abandonment and suffering. We stand and kneel, and stand and kneel again as we pray for all God`s people. We solemnly process forward to venerate the cross. We enter in silence, and we leave in silence.

Good Friday is a difficult day to explain to wee ones. What`s good about it? When is it going to be over? It is still difficult to understand as an adult. Yet, we know that Good Friday is part of all of our lives. From global tragedies to personal struggles and losses, suffering is all around us. It cannot be avoided. It must be lived through.

As Christians, we proudly wear and display the cross. It is the deepest of ironies that a torture instrument and means of execution has become a symbol of faith. (Imagine wearing a guillotine or gallows around your neck.) Yet, out of the darkness comes the hope of Easter joys. The cross is transformed from a sign of death to the glories and promises of new life.

Perhaps Good Friday is not meant to be understood. It is meant to be experienced.

3 thoughts on “behold the wood of the cross

  1. Today, I participated in the Way of the Cross in Camden; we followed the cross to the 14 closest murder sights to our church, Sacred Heart. The most recent murder occurred in January 2011. A twenty one year old young mother was gunned down on the sidewalk in front of a sandwich shop as her children watched from the car. This occurred 200 yards from the church and now there are three stray bullets holes in one of the stained glass window. Our priest, Michael Doyle, held her in his arms for along time until the ambulance arrived, she died several hours later at the hospital. This Way of the Cross in Camden always tugs at the Heart, and brings leaks to the eyes; today more than before.

  2. Here is a wonderful Good Friday Veneration of the Cross Liturgy from the Daylesford Abbey:

  3. The worst day in the history of the earth, the Church calls: “Good Friday”. Good Friday changed everything! Because of our place in time and history we know about Good Friday but unlike the first Christians we know that there is Easter. Death has lost its’ hold on us. Our worst problem as humans who are creature and spirit was lifted. We believe that when you die is when you really begin to live!

    The cross one of the worst instruments of torture and execution of all times is now our victory sign. We wear the cross around our necks; it is on the top of buildings, in ever room in some houses. As Catholics we make this sign over our bodies. We make this sign on the foreheads of our children, and family as they leave our houses. This is a radical transformation of a symbol of torture and death, into a symbol of love, hope, victory and transformation. How radical this is! Imagine if we were to wear a little electric chair around our neck, or to hang one on the walls in our homes, how terribly inappropriate that would be. Unlike the cross, electric chairs, also instruments or torture and death are not about transformation, love, and victory.

    The Church in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit calls this day “Good”. The cross is our victory symbol; death is now about new and abundant life. Thanks be to God for the cross and Good Friday!

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