Proper veneration of Cross on Good Friday
  • henry
    Posts: 209
    Watched coverage of Passion Liturgy from Rome on Friday. Pope and everyone else kissed the feet of the Corpus mounted on the cross. Are we supposed to kiss a bare cross, or a cross with the Crucified fixed to it?
  • Maureen
    Posts: 652
    As far as I've ever heard, either one is acceptable. But most churches don't have a big stand-up crucifix like St. Peter's, and they don't want to go to the trouble of having people hold a big old processional crucifix (not to mention the breakage potential). It's a lot easier just to make a bare cross, especially since you then don't have to do the Corpus veilage/unveilage thingie.
    Thanked by 1PurpleSquirrel
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,822
    Either way is perfectly licit.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,108
    We have a large cross with Corpus, that contains a relic of the true cross. Everyone kisses the feet.
  • I believe it is not permissible to use a bare cross without the Corpus unless it contains a relic of the True Cross. Where the Missal says "cross" it is an English translation of the Latin crux, which in the tradition of the Roman Rite always means "crucifix." The word "cross" in English is ambiguous. Nevertheless, there is a rubric in the rite that instructs

    21. When the adoration has been concluded, the Cross is carried by the Deacon or a minister to its place at the altar. Lighted candles are placed around or on the altar or near the Cross. [emphasis added]


    In the GIRM we find a description of the altar cross:

    308. Likewise, either on the altar or near it, there is to be a cross, with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, a cross clearly visible to the assembled people. It is desirable that such a cross should remain near the altar even outside of liturgical celebrations, so as to call to mind for the faithful the saving Passion of the Lord. [emphasis added]


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  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    Our diocessan director of worship said that Rome has been asked this question many times and has had many chances to state a preference one way or the other. They have declined to do so each time.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,192
    Our diocesan worship director claims, and in fact circulated in published instructions, that it was to be a plain wood cross with no corpus. When I called him to ask, he claimed that "the Missal and the GIRM are plain, when they intend a corpus, they say so (as in para. 308 above), whereas the rubrics for Good Friday merely say 'cross.'"

    He was quick to dismiss my argument that the understanding has always been that "cross" and "crucifix" have been interchangeable, but always meant a cross with a figure of Christ crucified upon it.

    It should also be pointed out that in those same instructions (distributed throughout the archdiocese) he made it clear that the bishops had given permission to wash both men's and women's feet on Holy Thursday. Wonder what he would say if it was pointed out to him that the plain language in the new translation says, "men." Period.
    Never mind that the bishops cannot simply change liturgical practice without approval from Rome.

    It seems to me that liberal, progressive NewChurch types like to hide behind a narrow read when it suits them, but reject a narrow read when it doesn't.

    We used a cross with the figure of Christ crucified upon it, and washed men's feet only. So there.
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  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Of all days, Good Friday calls for a re-presentation of Christ on the Cross. The opportunity to declare the empty Cross follows shortly.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,907
    >...liberal, progressive NewChurch types like to hide behind a narrow read...

    That cuts both ways David, doesn't it?


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  • David, I have never been to a Holy Thursday where men only had their feet washed, and perhaps this is a Canadian thing. In our little Church, I don't think we would have twelve men to volunteer for this. What happens then? Perhaps the Priest washes both feet of six men? Of course, the men only rule would avoid the annual problem of ladies forgetfully wearing their nylons, instead of removable socks......
  • Thanks for the references, Pedro!

    Why *wouldn't* we have a crucifix? It seems to me that some people go out of their way to avoid using crucifixes. What's the reasoning behind that? Discomfort? Shame? Why would a believer have a negative outlook about a crucifix? I honestly don't get it.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,822
    Why? Well, the rite developed from veneration of the relic of the True Cross, before the custom of adding a corpus, and the words of the ritual point to that origin. So it's not like it's illegitimate (any more than venerating a cross with a corpus would be). I would say that the corpus-less cross approach has gained traction because the rite now strongly prefers a single cross (rather than, when I was little, the presentation of several crosses by several priests at the communion rail), and veneration by the large congregation can often be accomplished more gracefully using a single, nearly life-size cross, set up at a point within the church that allows 2-4 lines to approach it (in my parish, it's at a crossing point in the center of the nave, with 2 lines coming from the east and 2 lines coming from the west, as it were). Let's not read too much into this; it does us little good to venerate a cross or a crucifix only to tut-tut about the way other people do it....
  • Questioning does not equal tutting. Come now, let's not tip honest musings toward a kerfuffle!

    When answers are given to rubrical questions, and history is cited, it would be great to have references. Otherwise, we run the risk of sounding like the half-baked liturgist David described.

    Thanks again to Pedro, who gave an answer with a reference. Very helpful.

    It's still a point of curiosity to me that people in general shy away from a corpus on a cross. I've asked Protestant friends the same question and haven't gotten very far, either. Some hinted at it being perceived as "too Catholic". This leads me to wonder aloud whether some Catholics tend toward an empty cross out of the desire to reach out to our separated bretheren. If that's the case, I suppose veneration of a plain cross would be part of that trend.

    The whole thing is curious to me, that's all.
  • Paul_D
    Posts: 133
    The most commonly overlooked criterion is that the cross for veneration must be beautiful. "For the veneration of the Cross, let a cross be used that is of appropriate size and beauty ...." (Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts, Congregation for Divine Worship, 1988). Thus the all-too-common oversized plywood "rugged cross" is inappropriate.

    As Pedro suggests, the rite makes most sense when a relic of the True Cross is the object of our veneration, and that relic would properly be encased in a cross-shaped reliquary, gilded and bejeweled, or set into a beautifully crafted cross. In any case, you should go out of your way to find and use the most beautiful cross or crucifix for the veneration.