By Fr. Sean McDermott
Once I became the cruelest of tortures,
Most hateful to all nations, till the time
I opened the right way of life for men.
From “The Dream of the Rood”
trans. Richard Hammer (1970)
We have finally come to the foot of the cross, and this year we come in a manner like no other remembered. We are at home, cut off from the altars we adore, the crosses we remember, the organs that guide us, the people we love. We sit in the quiet of home--or perhaps in the chaos of home. I pray that you may use some of these resources to aid your devotion on Good Friday.
Seven Last Words of Jesus
Seven clergy from the APA have put together video and audio meditations on the Seven Last words of Jesus. See them or listen to them here.
Litany of the Passion
This is a very somber and beautiful Litany to help you focus on the Christ's suffering.
Devotion to the Passion
This short devotion is a wonderful way to enter into Christ's suffering and offer thanksgiving.
I will end with two poems, both recommended to me recently and both good means of devotion.
From “The Dream of the Rood” Anglo-Saxon, 8th century, trans. Richard Hammer (1970)
The Rood (cross of Christ) speaks:
“It was long past – I still remember it – That I was cut down at the copse’s end, Moved from my root. Strong enemies there took me, Told me to hold aloft their criminals, Made me a spectacle. Men carried me Upon their shoulders, set me on a hill, A host of enemies there fastened me.
“And then I saw the Lord of all mankind Hasten with eager zeal that He might mount Upon me. I durst not against God’s word Bend down or break, when I saw tremble all The surface of the earth. Although I might Have struck down all the foes, yet stood I fast.
“Then the young hero (who was God almighty) Got ready, resolute and strong in heart. He climbed onto the lofty gallows-tree, Bold in the sight of many watching men, When He intended to redeem mankind. I trembled as the warrior embraced me. But still I dared not bend down to the earth, Fall to the ground. Upright I had to stand.
“A rood I was raised up; and I held high The noble King, the Lord of heaven above. I dared not stoop. They pierced me with dark nails; The scars can still be clearly seen on me,
The open wounds of malice. Yet might I Not harm them. They reviled us both together. I was made wet all over with the blood Which poured out from his side, after He had Sent forth His spirit. And I underwent Full many a dire experience on that hill. I saw the God of hosts stretched grimly out. Darkness covered the Ruler’s corpse with clouds His shining beauty; shadows passed across, Black in the darkness. All creation wept, Bewailed the King’s death; Christ was on the cross….
“Now you may understand, dear warrior, That I have suffered deeds of wicked men And grievous sorrows. Now the time has come That far and wide on earth men honor me, And all this great and glorious creation, And to this beacon offers prayers. On me The Son of God once suffered; therefore now I tower mighty underneath the heavens, And I may heal all those in awe of me. Once I became the cruelest of tortures, Most hateful to all nations, till the time I opened the right way of life for men.”
Good Friday Christina Rossetti
Am I a stone, and not a sheep, That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross, To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss, And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee; Not so fallen Peter, weeping bitterly; Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon Which hid their faces in a starless sky, A horror of great darkness at broad noon – I, only I.
Yet give not o’er, But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock; Greater than Moses, turn and look once more And smite a rock.
Fr. Sean McDermott is Curate of All Saints Anglican Church in Charlottesville, VA and Editor in Chief of Earth & Altar.