Jesus’ Suffering and Death on the Cross Remembered on Good Friday with Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion and Devotional Processions

Cardinal Wuerl Marks Good Friday with Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at Cathedral

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Christians around the world solemnly commemorated Good Friday, the day when Jesus suffered and died on the cross for human salvation. Catholics traditionally mark the day with fasting, penance, and reflection on Jesus’ loving sacrifice. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, apostolic administrator of Washington, presided at a Liturgy of the Word and Veneration of the Cross at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. During the Veneration of the Cross, people came forward to kiss a crucifix, recalling Christ’s death for our salvation.

“The cross stands at the very center of today,” said Cardinal Wuerl as he began his homily.

“It dominates our vision, our thoughts, our imagination.  It is the life-giving symbol in this liturgy of God’s all-embracing love of us…the cross proclaims just how freely you and I are able to access the fount of love and forgiveness.”

While we may not deliberately set out to offend God, the cardinal said, we often find ourselves failing to do the good we wish to do. But forgiveness is always freely offered, as is the grace of faith, especially as we stand at the foot of the cross on Good Friday.

“This is the same faith that gives us confidence to bring before the Lord our sins, recognizing that God never tires of forgiving us even if we get tired of asking for forgiveness,” he said.

“As you step away…maybe we can quietly repeat in our hearts that simple yet sincere prayer, ‘We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world,’” he said as he concluded.

Following the homily, Cardinal Wuerl led the Adoration of the Holy 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 faithful came forward to reverence the cross in a sign of respect.

Masses are not celebrated in Catholic Churches on Good Friday and hosts that had been consecrated at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday were distributed to the faithful at communion. Keeping with the somber tone of the day, the liturgy ended solemnly with liturgical ministers and the cardinal processing out of the sanctuary in silence.

Later in the afternoon, Cardinal Wuerl and Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, greeted pilgrims walking the Via Crucis (“Way of the Cross”) procession as it made its way to the cathedral for a Spanish liturgy and veneration of the cross. Several such processions take place within the archdiocese on Good Friday; the procession from Our Lady Queen of the Americas parish in Washington draws several hundred Latino Catholics, young and old, who make their way down Connecticut Avenue approximately one mile to St. Matthew’s for the liturgy.

On Holy Saturday as the Church reflects on Christ’s Passion and Death, there is no Mass until the Easter Vigil in the evening when Christ’s Resurrection is proclaimed and Mass is celebrated.

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