Doing something remarkable

Father Anthony Spanley holds a crucifix during veneration on Good Friday at Holy Cross Church in Hamlet, Ind., April 6. (CNS photo/Michael McArdle, Northwest Indiana Catholic) (April 10, 2012)

Father Anthony Spanley holds a crucifix during veneration on Good Friday at Holy Cross Church in Hamlet, Ind., April 6. (CNS photo/Michael McArdle, Northwest Indiana Catholic)

Yesterday, Deacon Greg wrote:

The simple fact is: this can’t be a day like any other. Scripture tells us that on the day Christ died, the world – literally – cracked open. The earth quaked. To this day, we cannot help but remember what was done for us. As the old spiritual tells us, it causes us to tremble.

But in the midst of all this, we do something remarkable.

We venerate the cross with a kiss.

And BroKen, in a related piece, wrote:

Many people outside of faith misunderstand the nature of Christian humility. They see it as demeaning. Many people within the faith think that, too. Fact is, acknowledging a gift as a gift enables one to be lifted by that gift to great heights.

Last night, the missus and I were part of something remarkable, something that though terribly solemn, serious and contemplative, filled us with a sense of holiness and yes, lifted us.

We attended a Good Friday service, within which we, for the first time in either of our lives, participated in the veneration of the cross with a kiss.

I confess now to you that initially, I was uneasy.  This sort of thing is not looked kindly upon by some of my Protestant brethren, and I, at one time, had come to agree with them.  So I actually hesitated as it was our turn to join the procession to the cross.  But I overcame that hesitation.  And I’m glad I did.  Very glad.

I’ll not dwell on our own experience other than to state succinctly that it was powerful and most holy and made me keenly aware of God’s gift in Christ and what Christ has done.

It was an uplifting and remarkabe moment yet the highlight of the evening came just a few minutes later.

The cross had been processed into the sanctuary by our blind priest as part of the rite and placed in the front center of the circular sanctuary.  We were seated in a front row maybe 30 feet from the cross.  Congregants lined up from the center of each side of the sanctuary and approached the cross from opposing sides.

We watched as young and old, large and small, tall and short came to either touch or kiss it or bow or genuflect before it.  The reverence was palpable.  Most kneeled before touching or kissing.  The choir sang quietly throughout the rite with some moments of silence between songs.

It was during one of these quiet moments when the silence was broken by the surprisingly loud sounds of very slow yet very steady footsteps.  I turned to my right and back to see an elderly man with a cane being led by a woman I presumed then and now to be his wife.  They alone were coming down an aisle adjacent to the aisle set aside for the congregational procession to the cross.

His steps were tiny and his efforts obviously labored but I was close enough to see his eyes.  They were shiny, as if on the verge of loosing tears, but determined.  It took him a good while to simply approach the cross and by this time, those in line had paused to allow him access.

His wife glanced from the path foward and back to her husband time and again while they slowly, so slowly, approached but his eyes were locked on the cross.

After some time and obvious struggle, he arrived.  He appeared to initially bend as if to kneel but stopped abruptly, perhaps in pain.  He then reached out to the cross, touched it lightly, brought his hand back to his mouth, and then back to the cross and then did his best to bow and here he paused for what seemed like a long moment.  I wondered what he was thinking, what was going through his head.  He then ever so slowly, turned back to his wife, and they resumed their struggling stepping back toward their seats.

At this point, I could see his face clearly, and though I know not what was going through the man’s mind, clearly I saw that he had been touched by the experience.  As he slowly, ever so slowly, struggled past us back to their seats, I lowered my head in respect but to also hide the fact that I had become emotional.  I was overcome by a man’s faith in God and his manifest hope in what was yet to come.

I had witnessed a suffering servant connecting to The Suffering Servant and in that connection and in that moment, my own bond with Christ was strengthened.

Remarkable indeed.

Originally published at Brutally Honest in April, 2010

He is Risen!
No, Todd Starnes, American Christians don't need Ted Cruz in order to sleep soundly at night.
  • Retired military

    Rick can you email me at wsauer at twc.com

    THanks

    • I’m so very sorry RM…

      Eternal rest grant her, O Lord,
      and let perpetual light shine upon her.
      May she rest in peace and may You comfort all of her loved ones left behind, especially RM…

      God’s peace to you good sir.

    • jim_m

      Oh my gosh, RM. I am so sorry.

    • Paul Hooson

      I am so deeply sorry my friend. You have my prayers and very best of wishes. You always have my deepest of respects at this time and for your service to our country as well. God bless you my friend.

    • Walter_Cronanty

      I am very sorry to hear about this. Know that she is indeed waiting on you, and Christ’s death, resurrection and everlasting grace has already made you worthy. You are in my, and my family’s prayers.

    • Scalia

      I’m deeply saddened to hear the news, RM. May the Lord assuage your sorrow.

    • Commander_Chico

      I am sorry RM.

    • sarahconnor2

      RM, I just found out about your loss. I am so sorry. If you live in or near the Philly area, you are welcome to join us for a meal or just to have some place neutral to go and think. We have a spare room. Please let me know what else we can do.
      I will be praying for you, your wife, and your family. You are definitely worthy and will see her again.

      • Retired military

        Thank you for your kind offer.
        I am in TX. Just your kind thoughts and prayers are enough.

    • fustian24

      I am so, so sorry.

      You may not want to hear this now, but time does help.

      This is something I know.

    • Rick Adams

      I have no words.

    • Wild_Willie

      RM, being married and madly in love for 41 years, I can imagine that you feel unwhole. Your best friend, confidant and lover died. So very sorry for this information. You have been on the boards for many years now, but still I am shocked when real life rears its head. I pray for Jesus to bless you with peace and guidance in the months ahead. Love you my friend. ww

    • Vagabond661

      So sorry RM. May you find peace. I pray no one has to go thru what she did.

  • Brucehenry

    So very sorry, RM.

  • Paul Hooson

    The actual Jewish Passover actually starts on April 22 this year and ends on April 30. “The Last Supper” that Jesus celebrated with his followers was actually this Passover seder where the wine and bread took on a great significance to Catholics and other Christians who celebrate “communion”. While the Jewish and Christian celebrations are far different, there is still the common roots that make both faiths brothers who believe in God, although with a few differences in their paths to the common God of both brothers of faith.

  • Retired military

    Thank you all for the kind words, thoughts and prayers.

    • Paul Hooson

      You have a lot of friends who love you here among our small family. I’m sorry, it’s hard to write when my eyes are blurry with tears right now for you. We care so much about each other…

  • @Retired Military

    You have my deepest sympathies. May God bless you.