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The Cross – A Good Friday Contemplation

April 10, 2020

A weekly blog by Deacon Dan Wagnitz for the Quad Parish Community

The Cross – A Good Friday Contemplation 4/10/2020

“Behold, behold the wood of the cross, upon which hung our salvation. O come let us adore.”
This day is unique in significant ways for Catholic Christians. This is the only day of the entire
year that the Sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Would we have been able to gather as
community today, the hosts we would have received would all have been consecrated at the
Holy Thursday Mass and reserved in a place of honor outside the sanctuary because we
remember that Jesus was crucified this day outside the city.

And we would have come forward after the reading of the Passion to venerate the cross. Our
hearts almost inherently recognize its holiness as this symbol, like non-other, is intertwined
with Jesus. When we contemplate the Christ, we are impelled to contemplate the cross; and
when we contemplate the cross it is impossible not to contemplate the Christ.

Our brothers and sisters of mainline Protestant and non-denominational traditions always
display an empty cross in recognition that Jesus died once and for all for us and is now risen
from the dead. The cross, like the tomb, is empty. Catholics and Orthodox Christians typically
display the cross with the body of Jesus. We believe that we re-present the once, yet eternal
sacrifice of the Son to the Father at each Mass – not crucifying Jesus over and over, but rather
honoring the memory of the most precious gift of his body and blood each time we gather – as
he asked us to. We should see these not as opposing viewpoints but as complimentary

Today, as Catholics the cross we venerate is also without the Body of Jesus. It is the simple and
yet deep-in-meaning wood of the cross that we contemplate. The simple cross that was the
intended end of Jesus of Nazareth that instead led to his ongoing recognition and salvific
ministry. The cross that was intended to be the ultimate human humiliation, that instead has
led to the ultimate glory of God. The cross that was intended to be the instrument of painful
and final death, that instead led to the promise of eternal life for all.

St. Catherine of Sienna described the cross as the bridge that Jesus laid across the divide
between God and humanity. It is a bridge that each one of us must decide to walk or not.
Because one of the most important reasons that we honor the simple cross today is that
ultimately the cross is an invitation. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come
after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) And so, the
cross is our identity as Christians. It is who we are.

“Behold, behold the wood of the cross, upon which hung our salvation. O come let us adore.”

His Peace, Deacon Dan


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