Good Friday Veneration

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I love your blog.  I have a question about Good Friday.

On Good Friday, at several parishes I have been at, there is a custom that people are given a nail at the beginning of the liturgy.  When they come forward to venerate the Cross, they place a nail in a metal bucket that makes a clinking sound.  What are your thoughts on this?  Is it permissible or a good practice?  I don’t see it in the Good Friday liturgy rubrics.


A: Thanks for your comment on my blog.

I’m not familiar with this custom. And I’m not sure what it attempts to symbolize—which means people would take from it what they wish.

Is it a sign that the individual’s sins brought the nails to the cross of Christ? Is the sound supposed to bring home the complacent horror of those who crucified Christ?

The point of this part of the Good Friday service is for the faithful to adore the cross. The rubrics don’t tell us how to do this, so I usually see people kneeling, genuflecting, bowing, touching, kissing the cross, or standing in silence before it. To me, these are clearer signs of adoration than tossing a nail into a bucket, but maybe I’m missing something.

If people derive some personal spiritual benefit from the practice, that is good to hear. But, personally, I wouldn’t promote it. I’d have people find a clearer way to adore the cross, which was stained with the Blood of Christ.