In the Catholic faith we believe that God is outside of time. When the priest celebrates the sacrifice of the Mass each and every day we know this to be the same self-sacrifice as that which was offered on Calvary.
Stepping into a Catholic church on Good Friday is like literally stepping back in time to stand before the cold, rock hewn tomb into which our Savior was placed.
When you attend the Good Friday service in your parish keep the rich Catholic symbolism in mind as you walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus. If you are unable to attend the 3pm service, read these Good Friday meditations and carry them in your heart.
The violence of the Crucifixion has just finished: Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46).
Jesus’ body is removed from the cross and prepared for burial: This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid (Luke 23:52-53).
Each tabernacle has been emptied and stands as a reminder of our denial of Christ: But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22: 60-62).
The Gospel focuses on the Passion narrative. We cry with the people standing before Pilate: Crucify him! Crucify him!
The Priest presents the Cross. The tool which God used to save his people from death: Behold the cross, on which hung the Savior of the world. Come let us worship.
We line up silently, slowly moving forward, for our own opportunity to venerate the Cross: We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
The reality of the Resurrection hasn’t happened yet. The darkness of death overshadows all life.
Good Friday is the day when we connect in a real way with the humanity of our Savior. In God’s merciful plan for our salvation, He wants us to know that Jesus shared in our human sufferings. He wants us to know that Jesus understands the day to day trials we face — anxiety, weariness, fear, and anguish. Our reality is Jesus’ reality as well.
Standing before us however, is our priest — alter Christus — another Christ. He leaves the sanctuary and returns, being led by a candle — the light of Christ. He brings with him the saving grace of Communion which has been reserved from Holy Thursday: Let not the partaking of Thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgment and condemnation; but through Thy goodness may it be to me a safeguard and remedy both of soul and body.
We leave the Communion service in solemn silence fortified to wait through Holy Saturday to the blessed day of Resurrection on Easter Sunday: In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.