This is the first chance I have had to write some reflections on part of what I have been doing during this Holy Week, 2015. Yesterday, Good Friday, I assisted at the service that was held at St. Margaret of Scotland parish in Beverly, MA. The small church was built in the late 1800’s, and has a very unique design. The interior has a dark wood ceiling, which sort of adds to the solemnity of the liturgy we were about to celebrate.
The Good Friday service commemorates the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, it is the most solemn liturgy held during Holy Week. Wearing red colored vestments, the Pastor and I silently processed into the church. Entering the sanctuary, Father, I and the cantor kneeled in the sanctuary, and the service began with readings from Scripture. I, the cantor, and our music director chanted the Passion of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of John. After the prayers of the faithful, I went to the rear of the church, picked up a plain wooden cross, and began to process down the main aisle, back to the sanctuary. I stopped three times; each time intoning: “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the Savior of the world!” to which the congregation responded: “Come let us worship.” After Father and I had each venerated the Cross, members from the congregation came forwarded to also venerate it. Some kissed the wood, others knelt and touched it, and others just bowed before it. When everyone had come forward, Father and I set the Cross on a side altar, with two candles on either side. A communion service followed, then Father and I processed out and we did in, in silence.
After greeting members of the Catholic community as they left the church, I went back in; back to the side altar with the Cross. As I stood, looking at that bare wooden Cross, it came to me, how an instrument of public execution, has become a symbol of triumph, Christ’s triumph of death. I think though we forget what suffering Jesus went through, for us, for our salvation. We need to recall what was written by the prophet Isaiah:
“Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.” (Isaiah 52)
Tonight, we commemorate, we celebrate Jesus Christ victory over sin and death; we celebrate the peace and joy that is still being experienced by so many of us.