One of my favorite moments of Holy Week is the time we take on Good Friday to reverence the cross. In silence the Deacons process forward with the cross that is wrapped in red fabric. Silently, the Bishop removes his miter and his chasuble and begins to sing:
Behold! Behold, the wood of the cross! On which was hung our Salvation!
He removes a portion of the cloth to reveal an arm of the cross and we all respond;
Oh come, let us adore!
I love that this moment of remembering the suffering draws to mind the adoration of the Christ child that we took part in not so long ago. Oh come let us adore Him! we sing then and something similar now. Beautiful.
Then, we process up and have the opportunity to reverence the cross in any way we desire. I usually go for a kiss, but some do a simple touch or press their foreheads to the wood.
The kids also wait in joyful anticipation for this moment. It is with much anxiety that they make the move to show their gratitude on their own. They began early this year, encouraging each other to “just do it” and discussing proper protocol.
When the moment came, I was given charge of Tess and Ellie. I bent down to whisper a reminder to Tess.
“We’re going up to the cross now. Are you going to touch it?”
“No!” she declared, full of spark and joy. “I’m going to hug the cross!”
And with that we set off. When it was our turn to approach the cross, I again bent down.
“Go ahead, baby! This is it.” She froze. She pushed back against my hand nudging her forward and locked her arm around my knee in a burst of shyness.
The very moment we turned around and joined the crowds streaming back to the pews, she began to cry.
“But I didn’t get to do it! I wanted to do it!”
I debated with myself what to do. Should I let her live with the consequences? You snooze, you lose pal! Or should I brave the crush of humanity and get back in line with the hope she’d find her resolve.
In the end, we filed back into the pew and I comforted her there. Soon she was right again and had forgotten her missed opportunity.
But isn’t that the way it goes? We declare boldly that we will embrace the cross, whatever it may be. Like St. Peter we rashly pledge, “I will follow you anywhere, Lord!” only to shrink away when the moment comes. Then the regret pours in and we feel a grief akin to Peter’s.
God is good to show it to me in the form of my child. I pray she and I will have the grace to hug the cross that we’re given when we’re given it.
On an unrelated note, there were 3 seconds of utter silence between the last sung response and the beginning of the procession. In those moments, Tess began to sing quite loudly the theme for Darth Vader.
“Bum! Bum! Bum! Bum-ba-bum, bum-ba-buuuum!!!”
We’ve been over it again and again and no reason has been discovered. My theory is God compels them to do such things to keep me humble. Or drive me crazy, either way.