In many Catholic Churches throughout the world, traditional Good Friday services include the Veneration of the Cross, a ceremony in which the faithful pay respect to the cross on which Jesus was crucified. In most churches, the service is held at 3:00 PM, the time of Jesus’ death. Veneration is performed by individuals kneeling, kissing or touching the cross. The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge presided and was homilist at the Veneration of the Cross at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh.
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
Sacred Heart Cathedral
April 2, 2010
Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge
Bishop of Raleigh
In just a few moments, the Church invites us to come forward and to venerate the cross on which hung the Savior of the world. As we do so, we are filled with wonder and awe in knowing the Lord’s great love for us; we unite our sufferings to the Lord’s and we celebrate the truth that Jesus Christ, ever obedient to the will of the Father and His plan for salvation, defeated once and for all the power of sin and even death itself.
All of us in this Cathedral understand what it means to share in the sufferings of Christ. As Church, as families and as individuals, we all have crosses to carry and some are very heavy. Yet, in the midst of all our crosses, we refuse to despair. We are believers who know that there is nothing that we experience that the Lord did not experience. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus Christ is able to sympathize with us because, though without sin, He has been tested in every way we are.
In the Gospel account of the Passion of Jesus Christ just proclaimed, we hear again of what Jesus endured for us. He willingly carried the cross and fell beneath its weight. He hung on the cross for three hours suffering freely out of love. After giving us His Mother and commending His life to the Father, Jesus bowed His head and died.
In His death on the cross, Jesus bore all that the world had to offer. In His death on the cross, and because of the Father’s plan for salvation for all of humanity, we come to know the forgiveness of our sins and we receive the power to live forever. Thus, as the Letter to Hebrews states, we can approach this throne of grace to receive mercy and favor and find help in time of need.” No wonder the psalmist cries out today, “Take courage and be stouthearted all you who hope in the Lord.”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, be filled with wonder and awe in knowing the Lord’s great love for you; unite your sufferings and daily crucifixions to His and with profound trust in His healing and saving power come forward today and venerate the cross on which hung the Savior of the World.
Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General, prostrate at the beginning of the Veneration of the Cross service at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Good Friday.