From the earliest days in the Church, Good Friday has been the most solemn day in the entire Church year. It ritually relives the passion and death of Jesus. Over the years it has been commemorated in various ways. In Jerusalem, for example, this has been the day to trace the footsteps of Christ along the Via Dolorosa. In Rome, the Pope usually goes to the Coliseum and prays the Stations of the Cross. In Churches throughout the world, the passion and death of Jesus is relived and pageantry, liturgy, and prayer. The mood of the day is somber and quiet.
Vatican II renewal stipulated an afternoon liturgy called the Celebration of the Lord's Passion. The liturgy of the Word includes the Suffering Servant passages from Isaiah and the passion account in John's Gospel. The General Intercessions for the liturgy include every human need and intention, and the cross is solemnly venerated. A communion rite concludes the service.
The Devotional Practices for Good Friday:
although it is not a holy day of obligation, many Catholics realize the Solemnity of Good Friday and make a point of attending services. Some parishes join in an ecum workenical gesture with other Christian nominations and a three hour service based on the passion accounts or the Last Seven Words of Jesus. (See meditations for the complete story of the Last Seven Words of Jesus). Other parishes act out the passion in a pageant. To be more spiritually attuned to the somberness of the day, consider keeping a quiet silence and a sense of recollection in your daily activities. Good Friday is a day of fast one full meal only, and abstinence from meat. Some people, whose health will allow them to fast more rigorously, enter into this observation by refraining from food altogether, taking liquids only.
The most profitable and creative way to immerse yourself in the spirit of Good Friday is to read the Scriptures as though you will participant in the unfolding story of the passion.
As you encounter the various personalities in the passions accounts:
Matthew 26:1-27:61; Mark 14:1; Luke 22:1, 23:56; John 18:1- 19:42.
Ask yourself after reading these Scriptures the following questions:
1). How does my behavior portray the attitude of each of these people?
2). How am I liked cutis, a betrayer and on faithful follower?
3). How am I liked Mary, who anoints Jesus's feet with her hair?
4). How am I like Pilate, who finds no fault in Jesus, yet, because of the pressure of the crowd, gives sin?
5). How am I like the apostles, who abandoned Jesus?
6). How am I liked Mary and John, who are steadfast and vigilant beneath the cross?
Using Scriptures meditate on the Last Seven Words of Jesus. You will find as I found the true meaning of the. Last Seven Words of Jesus and you will come to have a full understanding of Christ's love for all people.
Do not enter your experience of Good Friday with anticipation of Easter. Rather, in your personal devotions, dwell on the mystery and the redemptive qualities of suffering. What ever human hardship you may have to endure, remember that Jesus was their first. All our human ills and pains were first experienced by Jesus.
Good Friday brings us face to face with the hires cheap reality of violent evildoers, innocent victims, and death. Jesus willingly gives up his life to heal our human brokenness. And this Good Friday, spent time in thanksgiving for Jesus' suffering and death and for the grace of his redemptive sacrifice. Determined to do all in your power to unite your pains, sorrows and life's disappointments to those of Christ, so that you might become a catalyst of healing, compassion, and mercy in the world today.
Scripture Readings for Good Friday:
Isaiah 52-53 (suffering servant);
Habakkuk 3:2-19 (eight prophet's prayer);
John 18-19 (passion account);
Hebrews 4:14-16;5:7-9 (Jesus is humility)