But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
At Mass this morning Monsignor spoke of how we cannot possibly understand the Cross. Why did Jesus suffer so? Why did He have to die such a death? He could have redeemed us with just a word or a nod or the shedding of one drop of His Precious Blood.
But Holy Week is upon us and we take the time to focus and enter in and meditate upon that which we cannot fully comprehend, and yet we grasp and cling to it all. Because therein lies our salvation.
One of our family traditions that helps us focus on the Passion is the cross you see pictured. On Good Friday we attend the 3 o'clock Service of Our Lord's Passion. We play the part of the crowd and our spirits mentally squirm as we cry out, "Crucify Him!" We search our souls as we declare, "We have no king but______," to see what belongs in the blank this year. And then we come home and pound nails into our own cross. We each take a piece of red ribbon, symbolizing our sins, and each in turn nail our ribbons to the cross. There is just something about the physical activity of hammering in the big nails, so small compared to the spikes which held Our Dear Lord. We then erect this cross outside, right in front of our house.
We have been doing this for many years now. Sometimes we invite another family over for a soup and bread supper and they join us in nailing ribbons. Other times we have invited any neighbors who happened to be around to add ribbons. Most often it is just our family. All weekend we have this very vivid visual reminder of Our Lord's Passion.
But on Easter morning, we have a glorious reminder of another mystery - the Resurrection! The night before, after dark and the children have gone to bed, we take down all of the red ribbons and replace each one with a white ribbon, symbolizing the Resurrection and the forgiveness and washing away of our sins. The first year this was a great surprise for the children, and the neighbors as well, on Easter morning. I also had a former neighbor who would surprise me each year with a lily placed at the foot of the cross. We also put out our other Easter decorations after dark on Holy Saturday night - a floral wreath on the door, a decorative flag proclaiming "He is Risen", flowers and other signs of spring and new life. This year we plan to add the missing A- word, as we've been calling it throughout Lent, to our decorations as well. I have purchased some 'silk' lilies and also a floral garland to hang on the cross this year as we have no flowers growing here at our new house. We leave this cross up for the full duration of this our greatest celebration. Mother Church gives us fifty days to feast and celebrate and thank God for the gift of our salvation, and our cross stays up until her birthday on Pentecost.
Here are the construction details. My husband made the cross out of landscape timbers. It is eight feet tall, with a four foot cross piece. The two pieces are notched to fit together, which my husband did just using a hand saw and then a chisel until they fit. The two pieces are bolted together with two four inch bolts. We just store the cross in the garage the rest of the year, but it would be easy to undo the two pieces for easier storage if you prefer. After doing this a couple of years and re-digging a new hole every year, my husband had a brilliant idea. We always put the cross in the same spot in a flower bed right in front of our porch, so he made a little 'plug' to put in the hole. This is a piece of the same landscape timber, about a foot and a half long, with a nail sticking out of one end to use to grab it.
When we take the cross down we put the 'plug' back in the hole, ready for next year. It is also nice to take some of our family Easter photos in front of the cross after Mass.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me;
O good Jesus, hear me;
Within Your wounds hide me;
Separated from You, let me never be;
From the evil one protect me;
At the hour of my death, call me;
And close to you bid me;
That with Your saints, I may be,
Praising You forever and ever.