The Good Friday liturgy was solemn but beautiful, and reverent without being overly sombre. It began as the clergy, with Bishop Peter at the rear, silently processed into the Cathedral and prostrated themselves before the altar.
The clergy then read in three parts the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John, while the people stood to listen.
In his homily and before the people kissed the Cross, Bishop Peter focussed on the kinds of kisses which had been given to Jesus. “The imprint of betrayal provided by the kiss of Judas,” he said, “is replaced by the imprint of fidelity provided by the kiss of Mary.”
He then introduced the act of veneration, when the people would “behold and embrace the wood of the Cross on which hung the salvation of the world”. This embrace should “become an expression of daily remembrance and a witness of lifelong allegiance”.
Today’s celebration, he said, reflected a real restoration in ourselves: “When we hear the words ‘It is accomplished’, we are crafted anew according to the likeness of the Beloved Son of the Eternal Father…His final breath captures the lives of each one of us.”
Bishop Peter then appealed to the people to give generously in the offering, which was going towards the upkeep of the Holy Places and towards the suffering Church, particularly in Syria and Turkey in the aftermath of the earthquake. He announced the upcoming visit this summer of the Cardinal Patriarch of Baghdad, head of the Chaldean Church, which has suffered greatly from persecution in recent years.
“From the last breath taken by our most holy Redeemer upon the Cross,” he said, “the Church has had to bear the wounds of martyrdom and will have to bear these wounds until the last exhalation of breath on the last day of time.”
The homily was followed by the veneration of the Cross, where people were invited to genuflect and then kiss any part of the wood of the crucifix. Altar servers took turns in holding and wiping the crucifix, as there were so many people coming up.
The long service ended with Holy Communion and the people dispersed in reverent silence.
Pictured above are Bishop Peter Collins and Fr Alan Hodgson, the Dean, prostrated before the altar at the Good Friday service.
You can see a gallery of the service by clicking on the link or the picture below.