Skip to main content


Good Friday: The Church Born From the Wounded Side of Christ Pauses at the Cross

Today as we contemplate the Passion we also plumb the mystery and meaning of the Church

Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty he sends a spring of living water from the wound which the spear opened in His Side. From the wound in Christ's side has come forth the Church, and He has made her His Bride.


CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - "But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water"  (John 19:33)

This is the Friday we call Good. This is the day when the whole world stands still. We recall the great Sacrifice offered on the second tree on Golgotha's Hill. There, the one St. Paul calls the New Adam (1 Cor.15), in the perfect obedience of love, did for us  what we could not do on our own. There, Heaven was wed to earth. There, we were freed from the power of sin and death. There, we learn the Way of Crucified Love.

The mystery of the passion and crucifixion of the Lord has birthed some of the most profound reflections in the Christian Tradition. In Churches throughout the world, during the hours of 12:00 - 3: 00 p.m., devotions such as the stations or way of the cross and reflections on the last seven words of Jesus will draw the faithful more deeply into the meaning of this self emptying of Love Incarnate on the Altar of the Cross. 

This evening, I will join our priest in the starkly beautiful liturgy of the Lord's Passion and the Veneration of the Holy Cross, crying out "Behold the wood of the Cross on which hung the Salvation of the World" to which the faithful respond, "Come, Let us Worship." Of course, worship is the only fitting response in the face of such an act of Love.

The older I get the more profound this experience becomes. We walk into a sanctuary stripped of all altar cloths, the tabernacle emptied of the consecrated Eucharist and, upon reaching the altar in silence; we lay prostrate on the floor in an act that is both a sign of surrendered love and an expression of holy fear and awe in the face of the mystery.

Each year, as I feel the cold floor through my vestments, I am drawn back to the moment in my ordination to the diaconate in Christ when I laid prostrate. I am compelled to once again give my "Fiat" (yes) , my "totus tuus" (totally yours) to the Crucified One who climbed that tree out of Love for the whole human race.

As I reflect on the  mystery of this moment on this Friday we call Good, I am drawn back to some profound insights from the early fathers of the Church on the mystery we commemorate. They are based on that one line from the passion narrative with which I began "one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water."

Origen wrote "Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty he sends a spring of living water from the wound which the spear opened in His Side. From the wound in Christ's side has come forth the Church, and He has made her His Bride." 

The great "golden mouth" Bishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom  in his instructions to the early Christians taught , "The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy Eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord's side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own."

"There flowed from his side water and blood." Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolized baptism and the holy Eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, "the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit," and from the holy Eucharist".

"Since the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam. Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: "Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!" As God then took a rib from Adam's side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death."

"Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life."

This insight concerning the relationship between the Church,Christ and the Cross is woven throughout the sacred tradition. The great Western Bishop, St Augustine wrote "There it was that the gate of life was opened, from there the sacraments of the Church flow; without these one does not enter true life."

The Fathers of the last great ecumenical council, Vatican II, in their Constitution on the Church, Light to the Nations, explained "The Church grows visibly through the power of God in the world. The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus." 

Today as we contemplate the Passion we also plumb the mystery and meaning of the Church. We are members of His Body. She was born from the wounded side of the Savior. He betroths her in His great self emptying on the Altar of the Cross. Through her Sacraments, Jesus, the head of the Body, continues to feed us all with the divine life we need to enter more fully into the new communion which is ours through this saving Paschal mystery.

As the solemn commemoration of the Lord's Passion continues  we have an extended time of intercessory prayer. We join the needs of the whole world to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who offered Himself on that second tree to begin a new creation. We come forward to venerate His feet with our kiss. Then, we receive Him in the consecrated host from yesterday's Holy Thursday Mass. Then, silently, we leave to wait by the Tomb and ponder the Mystery of Crucified Love.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.

Keywords: Cross, crucifixion, Calvary, Golgotha, Good Friday, Redemption, Jesus Christ, Love, Deacon Keith Fournier



NEWSLETTERS »

E-mail:       Zip Code: (ex. 90001)
Today's Headlines

Sign up for a roundup of the day's top stories. 5 days / week. See Sample

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 5 of 5 Comments

  1. Sr.Linet S.H , delhi province
    3 months ago

    thought provoking reflection..

  2. andrew
    2 years ago

    In my twenties I had been to witness a beheading, which was postponed. Had the event taken place, I am sure I would have done nothing, nothing of the kind that Simon or Veronica did. How repulsive that my knowledge of the events two thousand years ago would make no difference.

  3. michael
    2 years ago

    Beautiful reflection, good deacon...only Christianity has typology, i.e., types, pre-figurements, that connect Old Testament realities with their fulfillment in Christ. You point out the great mystery of the creation of Eve from Adam's Rib and connect it with the creation of the New Eve from the side of Christ as He slept in death. By the way, this fact totally debunks the idea of evolution, including the ridiculous notion of theistic evolution embraced by more than a few Catholics. Why baptize something so utterly unscientific and unphilisophical? As Leo XIII taught, Eve was created from the side of Adam on the sixth day. Adam, of course, was created without any created parent, but rather from the dust of the earth. Lateran IV, Vatican I, and the Council of Cologne clearly condemn the notion of evolution whether atheistic or theistic. Remember man you are dust...and that we shall return to dust. And at the end of time, the good Lord will send the angels to collect all that dust and immediately, by the power of Almighty God, will form our bodies again, either to be inhabited by a glorified or a damned soul. It will not take millions of years of "evolution," but will happen in an instant as did the original creation of Adam.

  4. Cyprain
    2 years ago

    May the grace our Lord Jesus Christ and sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. A Joyful Happy Easther

  5. abey
    2 years ago

    To the day where the "Arc of the Covenant" that which was cut by hand gives way to the Covenant uncut by hand, the new Covenant, coming in the Fulness of The Christ, to the Glory of the Father.

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

More Easter / Lent

'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading


Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading


Holy Week

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading


Holy Thursday

HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading


Good Friday

On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading


Easter Sunday

Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading


Fasting and Abstinence

For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading


FAQs About Lent

Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading


Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now


What did you give up for Lent?

What did you give up for Lent?

From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »

Lent / Easter News

  • 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading

  • 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading

  • 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package.  It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery:  The Crowning ...Continue Reading

  • Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
    Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading

Good Friday

  • Good Friday

    On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.

    The Cross

    In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More

Ash Wednesday

  • Ash Wednesday

    Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

    The Ashes

    The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More

Stations of the Cross

  • Stations of the Cross

    Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.

    Opening Prayer

    ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations

Fasting & Abstinence

  • 'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35

    Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.

    Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
    Learn More »

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:1-6
I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to lead a life ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
[Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all it ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:54-59
He said again to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud looming up ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 24 Saint of the Day

St. Anthony Mary Claret
October 24: Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was born in Salient in ... Read More