Today is the most solemnly lived day of the year, for Christians.
Good Friday is when we meditate on the passion and crucifixion of our lord, Jesus Christ.
Many have asked me why it seems that Catholics, in particular, nearly obsess over Jesus’ death when we know He is risen.
To put it simply, we take very seriously and solemnly the Passion of our Lord because to ignore it would be to cheapen what Christ sacrificed for us.
We, the sinners, spat on Him. We stripped Him of his clothes. We whipped Him. We beat Him, kicked him, shoved Him. We took His dignity. We de-valued His humanity. We denied Him as our King. We crucified Him.
Because of his Passion, we can fully understand what we do to the One who LOVES us each and every time we sin against Him.
So we remember this day with intense mourning. If you’ve ever watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, it really puts the Bible into our head in a vivid way: we can try in some small way to visualize Jesus’ pain and humiliation… for our sake.
At any time, Jesus could have stood up and said, “NOT MY BODY!” and chose to lash out at those who opposed him, sending them to hell. But He didn’t …He made the faith-filled, noble choice.
But He instead said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
What compassion He had for us, even until the hour of His death on the cross. He didn’t think of Himself, but of us.
The Catholic church does not celebrate Mass this day. There is a service held, where we read the Bible and the Lord’s Passion. The people in the congregation participate by reading aloud the words of the crowds during Jesus’ persecution; “CRUCIFY HIM!”
Doing this really brings me into a humble place, shamefully feeling the indignant ignorance in which the crowd sadly engaged before their Lord.
After the Biblical readings we venerate the cross. The word here is venerate, not worship. We “revere with great respect” the cross on which our Savior sacrificed His precious life for you and me.
When we kneel before the Cross, we do it with Christ in our heart, mind, soul and body.
And even more moving is witnessing what our priest and deacon do. They lay prostrate before the cross.
Laying prostrate is akin to today’s joke of “planking”: completely flat, on stomach, with face into the dirt.
This is no joke. This is not funny. This is our respected priest, completely submitting himself in a very humbling way to Christ, as if to say, “I am not even worthy to approach this cross that merely represents your suffering”
How emotional this ceremony is to witness. There is no music today only brief chanting of Biblical hymns.
The alter, indeed the whole church, is stripped of all its decorations, flowers, hangings and tapestries.
At noon until 3 the entire church, and families at home remain silent, praying, working, reading, or just sitting in reflection. For at 3pm is when the Lord died on the cross. This is the hour of mercy. Mercy, that was given to US.
And we wait.
This waiting, and mourning brings intense joy- for me, to the point of tears- on Easter Sunday, when we enter an elaborately decorated, flowered, perfumed and beautifully lit sanctuary, representing Christ’s resurrection and the redeeming beauty of His forgiveness of our sins.
What a deeply beautiful, beautiful experience in which to be involved.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them,
“Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out,
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
“Crucify him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered,
“We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God.”
The descriptions I have given representing Holy Week are elementary at best. There is MORE to know, believe it or not!
Please visit these websites for deeper, more intelligent explanations of these celebrations, if you’re interested:
Sometimes, doing a Google search on Catholic/Christian subjects brings up inaccurate representations of our faith. These, I know to be accurate.