Q: Further to your great insight on the relic of the true cross I have been asked the following…
“On Good Friday evening, we celebrate Stations of the Cross. After Stations the Priest brings out the relic for veneration and ends the evening by blessing the people with the Cross of Christ. Is this acceptable? Is there a difference between a relic of the Cross of Christ and a relic of a Saint? In the Eastern Rite, many hold a Cross during the blessing.”
What are your thoughts?
A: I’m voting no. For two reasons – the absence of legislation on blessing with relics in general, and the absence of a blessing on Good Friday.
First, the GIRM mentions relics, but never holding one for the blessing. The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy lists these uses of the relics in 237: “The various forms of popular veneration of the relics of the Saints, such as kissing, decorations with lights and flowers, bearing them in processions, in no way exclude the possibility of taking the relics of the Saints to the sick and dying, to comfort them or use the intercession of the Saint to ask for healing.” There is no mention of using one for a blessing, even though this was a custom in the past.
Second, there is no blessing at the end of the Good Friday liturgy – just a prayer over the people. The only cross is the one to be adored. If the assembly is large, it may be held up for adoration to the whole group, but it is not used in blessing.