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Why Do We Kiss the Cross on Good Friday?


In this clip from the Busted Halo show, a caller asks, “Why do we kiss the cross during the Good Friday service?” The practice of venerating the cross, explains listener Teresa, has always felt a little strange to her. “I struggled with the actual kissing of the cross.” Besides the issue of germs, says Teresa, the practice seems to conform to Protestant myths about Catholic “idol worship.”

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Father Dave says that to get to the heart of the issue, we have to examine the prayers surrounding this practice. The Latin phrase lex orandi, lex credendi (law of prayer, law of belief) supports considering the context, saying, “We can learn about what we believe not just by looking at the Bible but looking at the prayers we say during Mass and during other public prayers; they will teach us as well.” In the case of the Good Friday veneration, we pray, “Behold, behold the wood of the Cross, upon which is hung our salvation. Come let us adore.”  

Just as we venerate the Gospels by giving them special honor, we thus venerate the instrument by which Christ fulfilled the messianic prophecies and achieved our salvation. We do not worship the cross but adore the cross as a sacred instrument of our salvation.

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So then why do we kiss the cross? Kissing the cross is a powerful tradition that brings us close to the crucifixion in a tangible way, but it is not a required practice. If you are not comfortable kissing the cross, then there are plenty of other ways to venerate it, from bowing before it to kneeling in prayer before it. Original Air 3-28-18


Photo credit: Worshippers venerate a crucifix during the Good Friday liturgy at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. (CNS photo/Victor Aleman, Vida Nueva)