Cardinal Wuerl Marks Good Friday, the Lord’s Passion
“Good Friday brings each one of us to stand at the foot of the cross”
March 29, 2013
Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, marks the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas, Jesus’ condemnation to death and his suffering and death on the cross; the events known as the Lord’s Passion. Mass is not celebrated in Catholic churches on Good Friday but a special liturgy is held in which the Lord’s Passion is read, the cross is venerated and special prayers are offered. Good Friday is part of the Paschal Triduum, three days of intense prayer before Easter. The Triduum began with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and will conclude at the Easter Vigil when the Resurrection is celebrated.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, presided at today’s Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle.
Following this dramatic and sorrowful Gospel narrative, Cardinal Wuerl told the faithful in his homily, “Standing at the foot of the cross, today and every day, we hear those words that announced what Jesus Christ had come to accomplish – our ransom from the bondage of sin – our redemption from failure and our salvation from eternal death is now finished.”
Cardinal Wuerl went on to say that as we stand at the foot of the cross, “What makes it possible for us to see beyond the ruined body of Jesus of Nazareth nailed to the cross to the reality of our redemption and salvation is our faith.”
Referencing one of the readings (Isaiah 52:13—53:12), the Cardinal talked about the lesson we have to learn before we can kneel in adoration of the crucified Christ. Jesus was scourged and beaten so that when he arrived at Golgotha, there would be no appearances that would attract us to him. Cardinal Wuerl told the faithful gathered at the liturgy, “Only with the eyes of faith can we see in the mangled and desecrated body of Jesus the reality of divinity and the saving power of God.”
“Even with our bruises, stains and failures, Jesus sees in us so much more. Our consolation today is not in our claim to be perfect, but rather in the knowledge that even in our failure, Jesus loves us.”
Following the homily, Cardinal Wuerl led the Veneration of the Cross, during which the people came forward to reverence the cross. The tradition dates back to the late 4th century when St. Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine, discovered a fragment of wood believed to be from Christ’s cross on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Cardinal Wuerl said, “When we come today to the cross and reverence it with love and faith, let us quietly repeat in our hearts a simple, yet sincere, ‘Thank you, Lord Jesus.’”
The Good Friday liturgy is not a Mass since it does not include the consecration, but there is the distribution of Holy Communion. Hosts that were consecrated at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday were distributed. On Holy Saturday as the Church reflects on Christ’s Passion and Death, Mass is not celebrated until the Easter Vigil Mass in the evening when Christ’s Resurrection is celebrated.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 97 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
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