“Good Friday brings each one of us to stand at the foot of the cross,” says Cardinal Wuerl in Good Friday Liturgy
April 3, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington presided over the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion today at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. The Friday before Easter, commonly known as Good Friday, marks the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas, Jesus’s condemnation to death and his suffering and death on the cross. “Today the Church holds up the cross and invites us to come to the foot of the cross and be washed clean in the Blood of our Savior,” the cardinal said in his homily.
In his homily, the cardinal spoke of the gift of grace that gives us the power to triumph over sin. “Through the blood of the Lamb of God, he washes away all our sins, all of our failure, everything that would keep us from God. By his cross and Resurrection, he frees not just one nation from bondage but all humanity from the more bitter slavery of sin,” he said.
“Good Friday brings each one of us to stand at the foot of the cross. We have come here to this cathedral Church just as Catholics all over the world are gathering on Good Friday to step forward and 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,” the cardinal said.
The cardinal reassured those gathered that even in our failures, Jesus loves us. “The reason you and I can come to the foot of the cross and stand there with Mary and John is because we know that Jesus welcomes us….We are the reason he came and why he gladly took up the cross in the first place. 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.”
“We also recognize that at the foot of the cross, no matter how bruised and battered we are, God loves us, with a love so deep it would bring Jesus to the cross and you and me to 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.” As he concluded his homily, the cardinal 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.’”
Following the homily, Cardinal Wuerl led the veneration of the cross. The tradition of coming forward to reverence the cross 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. The Good Friday liturgy is not a Mass since it does not include the consecration, but hosts that were consecrated at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday are 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.
Later in the afternoon, the cardinal warmly greeted the faithful who participated in the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession as they arrived at the cathedral for the liturgy and veneration of the cross in Spanish. He reminded everyone that we can experience once again the moment of our salvation at the foot of the cross today. “Cuando veneremos la cruz este día, que sea un momento de renovación de la fe y de la expresión de gratitud por la misericordia de Dios y el amor de Jesús,” said the cardinal. (“When we venerate the cross today, let it be a moment of renewal of faith and of expression of gratitude for God’s mercy and Jesus’ love.”) Via Crucis processions are traditionally held on Good Friday in remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion. Each year, about 200 Latino Catholics walk annually in the procession that begins at Our Lady Queen of the Americas parish in the Kalorama neighborhood and winds its way down Connecticut Avenue approximately one mile to St. Matthew’s cathedral. There are several Via Crucis processions that take place within the archdiocese on Good Friday, some of them drawing several hundred participants.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
CONTACT: Chieko Noguchi