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How the shape of the cross teaches us to love

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The altar was stripped bare and the tabernacle hung open to reveal its emptiness. There was no trace of the incense that had filled the cathedral the day before. Statues were cloaked in purple and the clergy wore bright red. The choir sang mournfully. 

The faithful sang along, knelt in heartfelt prayer, listened to the account of Christ’s death from the Gospel of John and received holy Communion at the Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion service at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington April 19. They also mediated on the crucifixion during the adoration of the cross.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge kisses the crucifix during the Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion service at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington April 19. ZOEY MARAIST  |  CATHOLIC HERALD

bishop kiss

Deacon Nicholas Blank carried a veiled crucifix through the nave to the sanctuary. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge removed parts of the cloth covering until the wooden cross was unveiled, lifting it three times throughout. Then, Deacon Blank held out the cross for service-goers to venerate with a touch or kiss. 

Deacon Nicholas Blank carried a veiled crucifix through the nave to the sanctuary. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge removed parts of the cloth covering until the wooden cross was unveiled, lifting it three times throughout. Then, Deacon Blank held out the cross for service-goers to venerate with a touch or kiss.

 

A metaphorical look at the shape of the cross can teach us how to love, said Bishop Burbidge. “Jesus asks that our lives take the form of the cross. Our love for God stretches us upward, vertical, reaching to the skies from the depth of our hearts, imploring his help here below,” said Bishop Burbidge, paraphrasing a spiritual insight that he had read recently. “Our love for our neighbor stretches us outward, horizontal, hands and arms and hearts open to those in need. What a powerful image.”

 

On this Good Friday, Bishop Burbidge encouraged the faithful to bring personal hardships and sufferings to Christ. “No cross is greater that (God’s) love,” he said. “Jesus continues to pour out upon us his mercy and sacrificial love and the strength, courage and perseverance we need to carry our cross, never alone but always united to his.”

 

The cross, he said, also calls Christians to love our neighbor and offer our pains on their behalf. “No suffering is in vain. From it, God brings glory,” said Bishops Burbidge. “Ask for that grace to let go of any anger or bitterness and to forgive those who have offended you.

 

“May you leave here today allowing your life to take the form of a cross — stretching upwardly toward God. Allow your lives to be stretched outwardly, to open hearts to those in need of our compassion,” he said. “Together, may we be renewed and strengthened in our faith. May we say, ‘We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.’ ”   

 

 This story has been updated.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019