Experiencing Holy Week Part 7 – Good Friday

Good Friday.

‘Good’? On this day we commemorate the Supreme Good that came from brutality and violence. There is no Mass celebrated today and no other Sacraments should be celebrated except the Sacrament of the Sick and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This is a day of quiet reflection, of family. Of prayer. It is also a day of fasting (only 1 meal and 2 support snacks) and Abstinence (no red meat ). Today should be marked by no shopping, no running around. It is a day where we remember those who, like our Lord, are victims of violence and especially our own violence.

Many parishes will start the Morning with Morning Prayer. A chance to pray  together as a community.

Many Parishes will also celebrate the Stations of the Cross. This Catholic devotion probably dates from the 11th to 13th century and grew in popularity after the Crusades, when ordinary Christians could no longer safely visit the Holy Places. The Stations are only a devotion, a reminder of what the Journey to Crucifixion entailed.

Some Priests may be available for Confessions. Good Friday is a day of Grace where many return to the Church seeking a sense of meaning and belonging. Many come seeking forgiveness and restoration.

By custom, the Solemn Service of the Lord’s Passion begins around 3pm. This is not Mass.

It is a commemoration of the death of the Lord – not a re-enactment or even a participation. It is just a prayerful reminder of the suffering of Our Lord for each of us.

It has 4 Parts:

  1.  The Liturgy of the Word and the Reading of the Passion of St John.
  2. The General intercessions or Prayers for the World.
  3. The Veneration of the Cross.
  4. Holy Communion.

The Service begins in silence. The ministers enter the Sanctuary and the Priest prostrates himself before the Altar. Prostration (lying flat on the floor) is an ancient symbol of humility and prayer.

Immediately on getting up, the Priest begins the opening prayer and the readings follow. Remember, this is not Mass.

After the Proclamation of the Passion according to St John, the priest may invite people to a time of quiet , repentence and a chance to make reparation (repair).

After this brief invitation, the 10 great prayers or intercessions begin. These prayers are solemn prayers for the Church and involve movement, quiet and public prayer.

Once the prayers have been completed, it is custom throughout the world to take up a collection for the support of the Christians in the Holy Land. This Collection has its origins in the practice of the early church supporting the Church being persecuted in the Holy Land. The same intention remains for the Holy Land Collection. Without this solidarity, Christian presence and holy places would be lost in the conflict that is the Middle East.

After the Collection for the Holy Land, The Priest or Deacon carries a veiled cross through the Church, gradually unveiling the cross and singing ‘the Wood of the Cross on which hung the Salvation of the World’ Our response is – Come let us worship.

It is a cross and not a crucifix that is veiled and carried. It is a Cross and not a crucifix that is venerated. This may be done by simple gestures like a bow, kiss or genuflection. As resurrection people, we venerate the Cross of Christ, but don’t worship or fall into idolatory by kissing the Corpus – this is a sensitive topic for many. Our veneration of the Wood of the Cross is a reminder of the sufferings that Our Lord went through, a reminder of our own crosses – but also a reminder of the Risen Christ. There should be only one Cross used. Some may chose to venerate from their seats.

Finally, the service concludes with Holy Communion – our last act of union with our Crucified Saviour.

All depart in silence.

How should I prepare:

  • Firstly, invite and welcome all who wish to take part in the service. Don’t comment to those who have not been to Church in a while that it is about time. Your comments are judgement and may block God’s grace prepared for that moment.
  • Only Holy Communion is reserved for Catholics. This is a day for all believers and for those who may not yet be believers.
  • Prepare your contribution for the Holy Land Collection in advance and prepare those who might attend the service with you.
  • Some parishes encourage dressing in Red – no longer for the royal road of Passion Sunday, but for the Blood shed.

About sharpspear

Random musings of a Catholic Priest at the bottom end of africa. Media curious. Lover of music. not sure they even represent my views, nevermind the views of others.
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