Go Kiss a Crucifix!

Pick up a crucifix, said Pope Francis during his General Audience during Holy Week.  Kiss it and recite this simple prayer:

Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Lord.

The Holy Father reminded pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square that Jesus’s Resurrection “isn’t the happy ending of a beautiful fairytale, it isn’t the happy ending of a film.”  Rather, he explained, it’s the result of the loving intervention of God, who wanted to give humanity hope and salvation.

In watching Jesus suffer and die a painful death like a criminal, the Pope said:

“We see the suffering of all humanity and we find the divine response to the mystery of evil, suffering and death. We often feel horror because of the evil and pain around us and we ask: ‘Why does God allow this?’ It hurts deeply when we see suffering and death, especially when it involves the innocent. When we see children suffering, it wounds our hearts.

“This week it would do all of us good to look upon a crucifix, kiss the wounds of Jesus. He took upon himself all human suffering.”

The custom of kissing the crucifix (called Veneration of the Cross) is a Good Friday tradition for Catholics.  On that day, there is no Mass; instead, the Good Friday service is composed of three parts:  the reading of Scripture, the veneration of the cross, and communion.

In Czechoslovakia, there is a tradition of kissing the crucifix during the wedding ceremony.  On the day of the wedding, the bride and groom bring a crucifix with them to the church.  It is blessed by the priest, and it plays a central role during the exchange of vows.  The bride places her right hand on the crucifix, and the groom places his hand over hers.  With their hands bound together on the cross, the priest covers their hands with his stole as they proclaim their vows to be faithful.  When they have completed their vows, the priest invites them to kiss, not one another, but the cross, the true source of love.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds bring the crucifix back and give it a place of honor in their home.  It becomes the focal point for family prayer.  In times of trouble, rather than seeking outside assistance, they’ll pray before Jesus on the cross.  Throughout their marriage, the couple knows that if the husband abandons his wife, or the wife abandons her husband, they let go of the cross–they have abandoned Jesus.  And if they have lost Jesus, they have lost everything.

 


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