Friday, April 09, 2004

Good Friday

Sano di Pietro, The Crucifixion, c. 1450

O Sacred Head, surrounded by crown of piercing thorn;
O Bleeding Head so wounded, reviled and put to scorn!
The pow'r of death comes o'er Thee, the glow of life decays,
Yet angel hosts adore Thee, and tremble as they gaze!

I was the celebrant today for my parish's Good Friday service, and it always affects me very deeply. I usually cannot get through all the verses of the Passion Chorale above without choking up, and sometimes weeping. I am struck by my priestly identity as Alter Christus, and by my profound unworthiness for that distinction and privilege. Nonetheless, I am grateful for it, and for my Savior's infinite mercy towards me.

At my parish, we have a large wooden cross that the celebrant carries into the church for the Veneration of the Cross. It stands about 6 feet high and 3 feet across, and weighs about 100 pounds. So I really felt it as I carried it in, and cried out "This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the savior of the world!" And as I carried it, I thought and prayed, "O Lord, how unworthy I am to carry Your cross. How unworthy I am." Never have I felt more deeply how much Jesus has given me. I weep for my sins, and for the immensity of Christ's saving gift of Himself.

We all show our faith and devotion in different ways. But today, even the strongest, most self-disciplined man should have no shame or self-consciousness in weeping at the foot of the cross. Weep for Christ, and for His mercy on us, who merit it not.

For today, God Himself died for you.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever; and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.