Friday of Holy Week is called Good Friday…not only in the Holy Mother Church, but most Christians throughout the world hold special observances in honor of Christ’s suffering and crucifixion on the Cross. In the Catholic Church it is recognized and commemorated as one of the most somber days of the year. There should be quiet in the home as well as in the Church. For Catholics, it is also a day of fasting and abstaining from meat.
There will be no Mass today, but we will receive the Eucharist that was reserved in the side chapel yesterday evening. It will distributed by the priest or deacon during the Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord. The readings are quite long, but in order for us to enter into a union with Christ, in order for us to join Him on that painful road to Calvary...the long readings are needed...otherwise, how could we enter into the Passion...and leave the hustle of the world outside…
Good Friday devotions are so that we can quiet ourselves down…and focus on the harsh reality of our sins, focus on the awesome gift we received from our Lord, by sending down His only begotten Son. Sometimes, we are like spoiled children, who just have to be told to ‘sit still’ and let the message of God…the message of Christ sink into our thick heads. We need to be reminded just how much Jesus endured for us, all because He loves us…
For the faithful it is both terrible and wonderful at the same time. It is very moving. And if you have seen the movie The Passion of the Christ, you know it can be a very powerful experience…reading the words…seeing the images in your mind…your heart…it leads us right up to the next devotion.
After a brief time of prayer, the Crucifix is brought in to the church, it is veiled with a purple cloth. The priest or deacon walk slowly into the Church, pausing and venerating the Cross three times on the way to the altar, the faithful will adore the Cross…falling to our knees each time, symbolizing the three times that Christ fell while carrying the Cross. Once the priest or deacon reaches the altar the Cross will be unveiled and the faithful will take turns kissing the feet of Jesus or kissing the wood of the Cross. We will then pray for a few moments as the priest retrieves the reserved Eucharist. We will then receive the Body of Christ before departing in silence.
In most parishes the Stations of the Cross is begun close to the three o’clock hour…to help the Faithful in their journey of uniting themselves to the Lord’s Passion. In our parish, the priest also offers a meditation upon the Seven Last Words. The devotions are somber…they are intended to help us realize the enormity of our sins…to realize the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice….In order that we must seek out God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sinful way we have lived our lives. These devotions help us to focus on our sorrow…our repentance for our sins, so that we may seek God’s mercy…and forgiveness…which leads us to the final devotion of the day…The Divine Mercy Chaplet.
In recent years…since the year 2000, when Pope John Paul the II instituted it, the faithful have been given yet another means of partaking in God’s unfathomable mercy…The Divine Mercy Chaplet…or more importantly Divine Mercy Sunday, which is the Sunday after Easter. There are many websites with information about the Chaplet and about the Novena which starts today. Here is a link to one of the better sites. Divine Mercy Sunday Novena. The site contains all the information if you would like to begin the novena.
So as the Lenten season officially comes to a close, remember to spend this Good Friday in prayer and devotion to the Lord. Allow yourself to join Him as He travels the road to Calvary…carry whatever crosses He sends you…with a humble and contrite heart, join your suffering with His and you will never be alone. This is the last Friday before Easter…make it a Good one…..