On Good Friday, Bishop speaks of crucifix as an enduring symbol of love
By David Karas, Hal Brown and Mike Ehrmann | Correspondents
Faithful across the Diocese of Trenton came together Good Friday, joining in prayer, reflection and Veneration of the Cross in anticipation for the coming of Easter.
Common in reflections of parishioners who attended the service commemorating the Passion and Death of Jesus in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, and St. George Church, Titusville, were gratitude for the sacrifice and love of Jesus, and a sense of duty to serve and make sacrifices for others.
“It is realizing the sacrifice that Jesus made for us – a solemn day of being thankful for his sacrifice,” said Patricia Clinton-Luke, a member of St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, in reflecting on Good Friday.
Photo Gallery: Good Friday in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral
In his homily, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who presided over the service in the Co-Cathedral, focused on the crucifix and its significance as a symbol of the Catholic faith.
“The crucifix or cross is the central and most widely known symbol of Christianity and has been for over two thousand years,” the Bishop said. “In a world where little seems permanent, where things come and go easily, where passing fads are commonplace, where so much is considered relative…the fact that a symbol has endured for so long everywhere should convey something to everyone who sees it, even to those who do not believe in Christ or Christianity or religion.”
Bishop O’Connell reflected on how the cross, a simple object and historically one that was reserved for the punishment of criminals, has come to reflect something so much more.
“The crucifix is the most powerful reminder of the greatest love the world has ever known,” he said. “One wooden beam pointing from the earth to the sky, pointing our attention to God; another wooden beam pointing from east to west, pointing our attention to our fellow human beings. And what brings those two wooden beams, those two directions together, is a single body, his body, Jesus Christ, whose life of suffering and transforming love was a life and a love for all: a crucified love that has endured and will continue to endure. A love that turns the wood of a tree, the tree of defeat and death, into a tree of life and victory.”
Clinton-Luke, whose son is an altar server, said that it was special for the family to see him serve alongside the Bishop, adding that Bishop O’Connell’s homily was powerful.
“I really liked how he reminded us [about] the significance of the cross,” she said. “I’ve never really heard anyone break it down like that.”
Fellow parishioner Michael Weber noted that Good Friday provides an important reminder of the value in setting aside bothers and frustrations in life, and to consider those in comparison with the sacrifice of Jesus. He also noted that it was an honor to attend the Good Friday service celebrated by the Bishop.
“I always enjoy listening to his homilies,” he said, noting that Bishop’s homilies provide him lessons on which to reflect.
Parishioner Mimma Finger said she was struck by the powerful message of the cross and crucifix, adding that she would carry that message forward in her daily life. “I need to start thinking in a different mindset when I wear it,” she said, holding the crucifix around her neck.
Photo Gallery: Good Friday in St. George, Titusville
Those feelings of gratefulness were also felt in St. George Church, where Msgr. Vincent Gartland, a retired priest of the Diocese who serves as a weekend assistant at the parish, led the faithful in similar reflections on the meaning of Good Friday.
“It is a day that really overwhelms me with gratitude for what Christ did for us,” said parishioner Ann Koloski, who added that she sees the cross as a symbol both of unconditional love and sacrifice.
Catherine Granzow, who has been a member of the parish for some 20 years, attended with her children – Elise, 9, and Timothy, 18 – both of whom are altar servers.
“We all sort of complain sometimes about all the tasks and responsibilities that we have…but when you compare what we have to do with what Jesus did for us, it makes our task seem rather minute and less difficult to bear,” she said.
Paul Soltis, a member of St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville, who attended the Titusville service, noted that Good Friday “makes the celebration of Easter all the more powerful.”[[In-content Ad]]