“Behold the Wood of the Cross, on which hung the Salvation of the World.”
These words began the Veneration of the Cross, one of three key elements of the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion celebrated today, Good Friday at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.
The Cross, the great sign of our salvation, was carried in procession and held at the front of the church by Deacon Philip Maas, who Bishop Alfred Schlert has called to the Sacred Order of Priest with his ordination set for June 5.
As Deacon Maas held it on his shoulder, Bishop Schlert then kissed the Cross. Deacon Maas then placed the Cross in front of the altar.
Traditionally, other clergy and faithful approach and kiss the Cross, but this year only the clergy and seminarians approached, and knelt or bowed. Veneration by the congregation took place from their seats during a period of meditation. People were invited forward after the service to make a private veneration of the Cross, by bowing or genuflecting.
Good Friday is the only day of the liturgical year on which Mass is not celebrated. Instead, the liturgy is a simple service, which also includes Liturgy of the Word and Distribution of Holy Communion.
The Gospel focused on the Passion and the Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, helping us to remember that through the glorious Cross, we are given life.
The homily by Monsignor Francis Schoenauer, Pastor of the Cathedral, focused on one of Christ’s seven last words: forgiveness.
“Forgiveness was always an essential part of the ministry of Jesus,” said Monsignor Schoenauer.
“The first words he utters from the Cross is a prayer of forgiveness: ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’
“He was forgiving all of us, for the great high priest at the altar of the Cross, he is offering the sacrifice for the forgiveness of all sin, from the beginning to the end, from Adam to the end of the world. He was offering that sacrifice as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
The liturgy concluded with distribution of Holy Communion that was consecrated at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper.