On Good Friday, Catholics asked to open our hearts to Christ's love
Pictured: Christians gathered on Good Friday to commemorate Jesus' Passion with an outdoor Stations of the Cross walk through downtown Belmont. The ecumenical "Belmont Cross Walk" has been held each year for more than a decade, one pastor noted. (Photos by Patricia Guilfoyle, Catholic News Herald)
Bishop Jugis prays for all people to accept Jesus' gift of salvation
CHARLOTTE — In a solemn prayer service commemorating Good Friday on April 6, Bishop Peter Jugis called upon Catholics to take to heart Christ's sacrifice on the cross as a living, present act of love – and not just see it as a past historical event.
The Good Friday service, held in every Catholic church, features a Gospel reading of the Passion, solemn intercessions, adoration of the cross, and reception of communion (not Mass).
Bishop Jugis led the 3 p.m. Good Friday service at St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte, which was packed with worshippers of all ages.
Good Friday is not just any other day of the week, Bishop Jugis said, even if many people appear to be going about their business "completely oblivious to the great sacrifice that we are commemorating on this day."
It was likely the same way in Jesus' time, he noted: the city of Jerusalem bustling with crowds busily preparing to celebrate the Passover even as the Son of God was being led to His death.
"Most people back then probably were completely oblivious to the great event which was taking place just outside the city walls of Jerusalem, on Mount Calvary – the work of our salvation was being accomplished.
"Just think! Such momentous events of universal significance were accomplished in such humility, in such a very quiet, humble way, not with great fanfare or show to draw attention to Him."
And yet, Jesus' death on the Cross that day brought about the salvation of all humanity, Bishop Jugis said. And it is not only our responsibility as Christians to remember that day long ago, but we need to open our hearts today to Jesus' saving gift.
"We as Catholics, as Christians, want the work of Calvary to be extended to the ends of the earth," he noted.
In the solemn intercessions that followed in all Good Friday services, the faithful prayed for the Church, Pope Benedict XVI and the clergy; for those who will be entering the Church on Easter; for Christian unity; for the Jewish people; for those in public office; and for people who not believe in Jesus and for those who do not believe in God at all.
Bishop Jugis noted that this year, the solemn intercession for those holding public office takes on special significance, as Catholics pray for the protection of religious liberty – which is under attack from the federal government in its mandate for all employers to provide free artificial contraception services in their health insurance plans in spite of any conscientious objections.
And Bishop Jugis noted that the solemn intercession for non-believers is of utmost importance, as we are all called to be Christ's witnesses to the secularized, indifferent people around us.
"It is a present, living sacrifice which we receive at Holy Communion: the Body, the Blood, the Soul and Divinity of Jesus. The sacrifice of Calvary which we commemorate today on Good Friday is given to us; it is a living, present reality" that is perpetuated with the Holy Eucharist, he said.
"And it is that sacrifice of love on Calvary which motivates us to spread the love of Christ to the ends of the earth."
He concluded, "Let us pray that not only our hearts be opened to Christ's love this day, but that the hearts of all people be opened to His love and accept His gift of salvation."
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor
Below are two photo galleries from events on Good Friday around the diocese. The first features scenes from Stations of the Cross in Belmont, Charlotte and Salisbury. The second features cross veneration services in Charlotte and Asheville. (Photos by SueAnn Howell, Ty Reamer, Bill Washington, Tim Reid, George Hoffman and Patricia Guilfoyle, Catholic News Herald)
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Read more about Pope Benedict XVI's Good Friday service.