Kissing the cross at Good Friday service

I would like to know others’ opinions of this practice. I was raised as a Protestant and converted to Catholicism in 2007, when I was baptized and confirmed. However, I cannot grasp the idea of kissing the cross in the Good Friday service because in my mind, it seems to be idolatry.

My first Good Friday, I kissed my finger and touched it to the cross, but my priest scolded me after. I explained I was uncomfortable and it felt like idolatry, but he reminded me I’m a Catholic now and need to do this.

So, some years, I avoid going up. Today I did but more because I felt pressure. If it doesn’t mean anything to me, then isn’t it wrong?

And how can it be wrong not to kiss a cross. It isn’t as if it was the crucifixion cross - it’s just a symbol.

I’m really torn over this as I want to be a good Catholic, but I don’t see how I can be a bad Catholic for not participating in this practice.

Thanks to anyone who responds.

I saw the same thing often with converts when I was instructing RCIA. Not coming from a protestant background, I could never reallyunderstand the whole idolatry angle, even though I understand why protestants believe it. We had some that were so uncomfortable they would refuse to bow towards the Altar or say a prayer in front of a statue of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin, let alone a Saint. Truly sad, truly.

Look at it this way. The crucifix is merely a symbol. Thats it. A symbol and nothing more. It brings you face to face with an image of Jesus suffering and dying for you. You are not worshipping it. You are not praying to it. You are giving respect and devotion to what it represents. The passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. And what could be wrong with that?

Thats it. That is how you look at it. paying respect, praying to and giving devotion to Jesus.

Now I don’t know that it is wrong not to kiss the cross. I have never heard that, but maybe it is. I really can’t answer that. But if you accept the Catholic faith, then this small act of on your part, really shouldn’t be that difficult. Just remember where your prayers and devotion are really going.

have a wonderful Easter

At our Good Friday service, it was clearly printed that a) reverencing the cross was voluntary and b) that each person could do it their own way (bow, genuflect, kiss, and touch were all listed as acceptable). So where I attend, it was not required one kiss the cross? :shrug:

Honor paid to sacred images passes to the prototype. That’s a technical way of saying, venerating the cross is a way of expressing our love for the Lord.

Haven’t you ever kissed or affectionately held a photo of a loved one, or something they own? You don’t love the photograph or object; you are merely expressing love for the person it represents.

Or take our national flag for example. We don’t drag it around, but treat it with respect and respectfully burn it when it gets tattered. It’s not because the fibers of the cloth are sacred, but because the flag represents our nation.

Since Christ is not present in a form we can perceive with our senses, the Church gives us physical things to represent Him, whereby we can give Him kisses and other forms of adoration.

I’m Catholic, and always have been. But even I’m not 100% comfortable with it. Not so much the kissing part, it was the song at my parish that they sung. It did something like “Come let us worship the wood of the cross.” I forget exactly. I know that’s not what we’re doing, but it made me squirm. I kept thinking, “Why use that word?? Why not honor or venerate which is what we’re actually doing.” It wouldn’t have sounded as poetic but still.:smiley:

So instead I just stayed in my pew and prayed. It’s not mandatory. That’s whats great about Catholicism, it’s big enough for everyone. We’re not forced to do any single devotion. They’re there for our spiritual good, if it doesn’t help then don’t do it! :thumbsup:

By the way, I’m not trying to judge anyone who does do the cross veneration. I think it’s a good thing and totally get the reasons behind it. It’s just not my thing that’s all.

People kiss the balarney stone and don’t think anything of it.

People kiss their race car.

I have seen people kiss photographs.

Catholics kiss the ring of their bishop to show their respect for the office he holds.

Soldiers comming home kiss the ground.

St. Catherine Laboroure, when she lost her mom at 9, held a statue of Mary in her arms and said to Mary that she would be her mother now. That is just being human.

I feel rather confident that people who do these things are not really doing it to the things themselves but rather what is behind those things. It isn’t all that uncommon.

Just some thoughts.

Have you never kissed a photo of a loved one? Perhaps that could help you understand the concept.

And, the veneration is voluntary, as well as how one venerates the cross. Sorry, your priest was way off-based by saying that to you.


Kissing the cross, just as making the sign of the cross, praying the rosary, getting your feet washed on Holy Thursday, is what we would call a sacramental.


  1. A Sacrament, is an outwards sign of an inward reality, instituted by Christ to convey His divine grace.

  2. A sacramental, is sign instituted by the Church, to help us, come to know God, and worship him, in a greater more profound way.

With that said, rest assured, God is infinitely just, understanding, and merciful. If it were in fact, idolatry, to kiss this cross as a sign of reverence to He who hung upon it, he will be merciful towards you. But, it is not in fact, idolatry to do such a thing. For when God commanded us through Moses, in the first commandment, He instructed us to not worship any other God. He never said to simply not make graven images, He said do not make graven images for worship because He alone is God and he’s a jealous God.

Ask yourself, was that cross a god? Did you worship it? Is kissing something worshiping it? Is kissing ones wife worshiping her? Is kissing a picture of your kids while your away from them on a business trip worshiping the picture?

pmoo : If Jesus can teach us the true meaning of " humility" by washing the feet of His apostles, how simple and humble it should be for us to kiss His hands or feet , or side that
carry those painful signs of His suffering for us .
There’s nothing wrong , in my opinion, to touch reverently those places if one doesn’t feel comfortable kissing them. It is what comes from the heart that counts, in the final analysis.
Remember that God reads the human heart.


Venerate the cross in a respectful way. You aren’t required to kiss it to show your love and appreciation for the good it has accomplished for the human race. Just be reverent. I saw some people bow or touch their forehead to the cross. Whatever you’re comfortable with. God knows your heart.

I was actually thinking during the service that if I were Protestant, I’d be very uncomfortable with venerating the cross.

I kiss my fingers then touch the cross purely for sanitary reasons.

Actually I have never kissed a photo or anything else, so maybe it’s not just about the cross. It’s more about kissing a thing instead of a person - I’ve seen others do it, but it is something that seems foreign to me.

Thanks for your comments - I felt really bad when my priest chastised me as I was a very new Catholic I’d just been baptized the Easter before, so thanks again.

That is exactly what I did the first time when my priest criticized me afterwards! I even read that it was okay to do that!

Thanks! In the future, I will stay in my pew and had I been at the end of the pew, I would have - I guess making people step over me pressured me in a sense.

I’ve never heard that song you mentioned, but I, too, would have been a bit uncomfortable with that. Although I kneel at the altar, I don’t do so at the statues and don’t think I ever could - I guess it’s difficult to lose all of the Protestant habits:D

Very common, watch Catholics who pray the rosary, often they kiss the Cross at the end.

Less idolatry of the material secular world is where the issues reside, not the Cross. The Cross is the goal, not the problem. :wink:

It was voluntary at my parish though almost everyone came up to kiss the cross. I wasn’t concerned about kissing it (I did), I was concerned if I was able to do it as a candidate.

Personally, I looked at it as a symbol, just giving respect to Jesus.

When I first converted I felt odd about it, but it was actually a very emotional and humbling experience for me. I think it’s important to keep in mind that it is symbolic. I am bummed that I am typically working that day now and can not make it to the service.

I find this very interesting. I am a revert. More of a convert since I was not raised in the church after age 4.

When I first came back to the Church, I was very uncomfortable with the veneration of the cross for many of the same reasons that have already been stated. Last night I went, and I was so moved to tears by the experience. But thought how those who were not Catholic or even former Protestants could completely misunderstand the whole thing.

A couple of things I think helped me with this. First is that I teach Religious Education classes to children. We have a high hispanic population. A lot of my kids of the sign of the cross and then kiss their thumb and finger made into a cross. I also noticed they stopped doing it after awhile in my class unless I also did it.

After talking to parents and others on what this meant to them, I did not want these children to lose this wonderful yet simple thing of faith. So I now habitually do it also after 12 years of teaching.

While I realize that I was so moved by the experience less for the veneration of the cross and more for going up and symbolically kissing the feet of my Lord who suffered and died for me, I am okay with that. I know that the Lord will show me when I am ready, true veneration of the wood that Christ died on for me. Until then, I am happy with symbolically kissing the feet of my Lord.

Very true with this population and a very good point. I believe you made a wonderful choice, yes we need to embrace their devotion, not deter it as it is admirable.

That is a lovely story. I also teach those classes, so I try and set a good example. I like the idea that you and others said about remembering it is symbolic and I think that will help me in the future.

As Gary said in another post, the cross is the goal and not the problem:thumbsup: