From a reader:
I need some help. For years I remember my parish using a beautiful Crucifix for Veneration on Good Friday (nearly 6 ft. tall and everything). I am now Liturgist there, working alongside a … pastor who insists on using a plain Cross since the title is "Veneration of the Cross" and not of the "Crucifix." He cites the Latin as being "Lignum Crucis" which is of course correct, but it makes no sense to me to use a bare cross on Good Friday.
No, it makes no sense to use a bare Cross on Good Friday.
The Latin in the 2002MR does use Crux throughout.
Crux here means "crucifix", not just bare "cross".
Traditionally in the Roman Rite a Crucifix is used.
When the rubrics refer to a Cross, Crux, on or near the altar, which is what this is, a Crucifix is meant. We gain clarity from GIRM 308 which says (my emphases):
308. Item super altare vel prope ipsum crux, cvm effigie Christi crucifixi, habeatur, quae a populo congregato bene conspiciatur. … Likewise, on the altar or near it there is to be a Cross with the likeness of Christ crucified, which is easily seen by the congregation. …
The point of Good Friday is not merely to venerate the Holy Cross of our salvation. There is a feast for that… on 14 September. The point of Good Friday is to venerate Christ crucified: Christus Crucifixus.
In the Ecce lignum Crucis sung three times, the priest sings "in quo salus mundi pependit.. on which the salvation of the world did hang".
The "salvation" hanging there is the Body of the Lord on the Cross, the one who is Crucifixus.
We venerate the Crucifix.
Historically the adoration of the Cross developed from veneration of a relic of the true Cross in those places where one was kept, especially Jerusalem. This spread to Rome. The veneration of Good Friday is in the Gelasian Sacramentary. Where a relic of the Cross was not available, a Crucifix was used. On Good Friday the veneration given to the True Cross is given to the Crucifix. Thus the threefold genuflection on Good Friday.
If there is no relic of the True Cross available for veneration, then the Crucifix should be used.. not a bare Cross.