Good Friday. How can we call this day “good”? The red glows with the blood of Christ and the austere Church reflects the emptiness felt by the death of a friend.
We enter in silence, as the clergy prostrate, a sign of supreme reverence, ultimate humility and willful submission to He who submitted his life to conquer mortality.
Once again we hear the passion of Christ, as on Palm Sunday. Listening to the Gospel according to John, we take in the exalted priesthood of Christ and compare it to his inevitable suffering, as human. We hear him actually plead, ‘I thirst.’ How human! It does us well to remember the personage of Christ.
This is also the only day of the year that the petitions are specifically prescribed. There are 10 petitions, sung, for which we kneel and stand. We pray for: The Church, the pope, the ordained, catechumens, Christian unity, the Jewish people, non-believers, atheists, those in public office, and for all in tribulation. Think of the prayer lifted up by the worldwide Church this day celebrating these mysteries!
Good Friday, where we then venerate the cross, unveiling it three times (trinitarian) as we behold the wood of the cross on which hung our salvation. People come and bring their own sufferings and connect either by touch, kiss, or genuflection the humble thanksgiving and deep petition to He who died for us. We make physical and spiritual connection to He who gave all, while ministers lift the cross for us. Behind, as a line waits, heavy with their burdens, to lay before the cross which bears all, we become united in our brokenness, knowing surely from where our healing comes.
During the veneration, we hear the reproaches. Ancient poetry where Christ, so human, asks ‘What have I done to you?’ The verses of this masterful poetry contrast with all that he has done in the old testament with what is being done to him this day.
Communion is taken from the place of repose, where it was taken on Holy Thursday. Christ knew we would need nourishment for this spiritually dark period and we take consecrated host and communicate with He who left us food and help for our spiritual journey into unfathomable darkness. No hosts are consecrated this day – the only day of the year where this does not take place.
We leave in a reverent, perhaps conflicted silence. There is no blessing, for we enter into even more darkness as we prepare for the Easter Vigil: the night of nights in our church year.