I was blessed to carry the cross for the Crucifixion re-enactment during last night’s Twelve Gospels service. (Pictured here, courtesy Greg Quartaro, heading through the narthex.) I hadn’t expected the honour, but was asked to carry it just before the procession left the altar. Having had no experience with that particular cross, I had no idea what I was getting into when I hoisted it over my shoulder and stooped to pass through the door leading out of the iconostasis. Then I felt a guiding hand assisting at the base of the cross. Knowing that there was someone helping me to steer the cross through building and people was a great relief! The darkened church was packed with people kneeling, and the last thing you want to do is to whap someone on the head during the three circuits of the temple.
As each curve approached, like an eighteen wheeler I was careful with my rear in making my forward movements. Always … I felt the guiding hand helping out in the back.
After a while I started to resent all the help I was getting … thinking: “Come on, Fr John, I’m not that bad! I think I’ve got the hang of it.” But, it was a comfort, nonetheless, to know that someone was helping me to make it to Golgatha.
As I ascended the steps of the solea, and circled the stand for the cross, I noticed that I was alone … the other priests and servers had stopped at the edge of the solea. I still felt the helping hand — I thought my mind played a trick.
After placing the cross in the holder, Fathers John Salem and Joseph Shahda “nailed” our Lord’s image to the Cross … we made our reverences and re-entered the altar while 300 or so of the faithful made their way up to fall down before the Tree and kiss the image of the Saviour’s feet.
I said to Fr John, “I appreciate your help steering the cross.”
He said, “I didn’t help you.”
I said, “Come on! Really?”
“No,” he said, “I made sure I was about five feet behind you so that I wouldn’t interfere.”
God is [always] good.