PS 68-69: Veneration of the Cross

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document Paschale Solemnitatis on this site, among many on the internet. Other days have Communion, and long intercessions (or so it might seem). Palm Sunday has the Passion. Only Good Friday finds people venerating the Cross as a community. Perhaps that is part of the power of this ritual, that we do it but once a year.

68. For the veneration of the Cross, let a cross be used that is of appropriate size and beauty, and let one or other of the forms for this rite as found in the Roman Missal be followed. The rite should be carried out with the splendor worthy of the mystery of our salvation: both the invitation pronounced at the unveiling of the Cross, and the people’s response should be made in song, and a period of respectful silence is to be observed after each act of veneration, the celebrant standing and holding the raised Cross.

The unveiling and responses, hopefully sung, will set the tone for what follows. Good liturgists will not neglect a bit of planning here.

69. The Cross is to be presented to each of the faithful individually for their veneration, since the personal veneration of the Cross is a most important feature in this celebration, and only when necessitated by the large numbers of faithful present should the rite of veneration be made simultaneously by all present. (Cf. Roman Missal, Good Friday, Celebration of the Lord’s Passion 19)

In my parish, the usual assembly is a bit more than five-hundred, and our Great Cross permits two to six to venerate at a time. It still takes a good bit of time–maybe a half-hour. That seems about right. Note that the people’s form of veneration is not specified. Kissing is traditional in the northeast. In my parish, that is done, but a variety of other things, too.

Rome seems to say use one Cross for each individual, or have simultaneous veneration by all. The latter would last some minutes, perhaps few, maybe more, I would think. I wouldn’t want to do it that way.

Only one Cross should be used for the veneration, as this contributes to the full symbolism of the rite. During the veneration of the Cross the antiphons, “Reproaches”, and hymns should be sung, so that the history of salvation be commemorated through song. (Cf. Mic 6:3-4) Other appropriate songs may also be sung (cf. n. 42).

These texts are in the Missal, and deserve appropriate and attentive settings. Even the St Louis Jesuits in the early 70’s had a setting (Bob Dufford, to be specific), and not that other songs “may” also be sung. I’d think of finding or setting one of the Psalms that details the history of Israel, 105 or 106. New Testament canticles devoted to Christ also come to mind. Spirituals capture the essence of Good Friday as much as any genre, including plainchant.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to PS 68-69: Veneration of the Cross

  1. Liam says:

    In a former community of mine, the veneration rite was taking over an hour. I can see the value in the alternative in certain situations where there is limited room for reconfiguring the veneration. It’s a thoughtful option that demands thoughtfulness before adopting, not as a cop-out.

  2. Liam says:

    Remember, “Cross” here translates “Crux” which, pace many commentators, does NOT presume a cross without a corpus – “crucifix” is an English back-formation, not a Latin word. It is normal Roman practice to use what we in English would call a crucifix; it’s not illicit to use a corpus-free cross, but it is wrong to say the the ritual envisions that as normative. (Hence my narrow objection is to priests/liturgists who try to insist that the use of a crucifix is wrong or not envisioned for the ritual.)

    As for the Reproaches: I’ve found the use of the antiphon+Trisagion (Greek, traditionally followed with the Latin as an echo) of Victoria’s “Popule Meus” wonderfully effective as an ostinato. The tempo at S Peter’s is very slow given the acoustic:

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