On Good Friday, we come together to remember Christ’s dying on the cross. For this reflection, each of our three monasteries submitted pictures of crosses that are meaningful to them. You will see the great variety of crosses and explanations given.
St. Benedict Monastery, Bristow:
This crucifix was blessed by Pope Pius X. It was brought from Rome in 1901 to Sister Anita Sherwood’s maternal grandmother by Fr. Tierney who was then the assistant pastor at St. James Parish in Falls Church, VA. On frequent visits as a child to her grandparents’ farm in Vienna, VA, Sister Anita would handle the crucifix lovingly and ask her grandmother to tell her the story about it again and again. For her 10th birthday, Sister Anita’s grandmother gave her the crucifix. When she entered the community, Sister Anita brought the cross with her and has since placed it on her pillow each day after making her bed.
Some years ago, I spoke with Fr. Thomas Shreve at a gathering in Richmond. When our topic came around to vocations, he said that he had an extra chalice, which he asked the people in his parish to take home each week and pray for priestly vocations. This sounded like a great idea. When I got home, I spoke to the sisters about our using a crucifix for our Sunday worshippers to take home and to pray for vocations. It was acceptable to the community. Sister Anita Sherwood volunteered her special crucifix. Each Sunday at Eucharist before the final blessing, the presider calls the person or family who volunteered ealier to take the cross home for the week to come forward to receive the cross and a blessing or encouragement to pray for vocations.
So that the people can know for whom they are praying, live-ins, postulants, novices and newly professed are recognized, usually on the Sunday following the specific formal ceremonies for each progressive step of membership.
Andrea Verchuck, OSB; St. Benedict Monastery in Bristow, VA
On the back wall of the chapel at Emmanuel Monastery, the Word of God is enthroned. During Lent, in the place where the Scripture stands, we place a Cross. This ancient Christian symbol reminds us that the Word of the Lenten Season is LOVE, a love that is stronger than death in all its forms. This cross was constructed from downed branches in the woods adjoining the monastery and stand’s about 3’ tall.
The Cross that holds the barbed wire Cruciform is also used in this place on alternate years. The barbed wire is from fences around our southern borders reminding us of the many chil- dren of God who do not know peace; who flee their homes to save their lives.
This cross is used each year on Good Friday during the Veneration of the Cross at Emmanuel Monastery. It too was made from the trees in our woods, stands about 5’ tall, and carries considerable weight. It is reverently placed in the center of the chapel for the Good Fri- day Liturgy. At the close of the service it is surrounded by lit vigil candles and “stones” left in memory of loved ones following the Jewish tradition of placing a stone upon graves visited.
Kathy McNany, OSB; Emmanuel Monastery in Lutherville, MD
St. Gertrude Monastery, Ridgely:
This crucifix has a predominant place in the infirmary hallway of the Ridgely Benedictine Sisters. Several times a day our sick and elderly sisters and those visiting pass this image reminding each of us of the suffering Christ and the journey that each takes following in His footsteps.
This crucifix is used at the Good Friday service during the sacred veneration of the cross. Over the years, many of our holy sisters held this cross in their hands or on their laps as the assembly participants advanced to kiss the crucified image.
Catherine Godfrey, OSB;
St. Gertrude Monastery in Ridgely, MD