Good Friday

Good Friday would, on the surface, not seem to be good at all for the sufferings inflicted on Jesus that day. However, His suffering, as we know, was our salvation. Who else but a perfect soul would lay down their life with such great pain to save the world and open the Gates of Heaven? Sad to think, however, how little people know or appreciate the greatness of this day or take a bit of it away in their heart to contemplate at moments during the rest of the year. How many of us would lay down our life for another person much less take on extraordinary pains in order to save the world and give humanity a new beginning, a chance at eternity.
We left a darkened and quiet church after Holy Thursday yesterday. Today, we arrive back to the same empty solitude. No Holy Water, no Mass, no Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. Jesus has been taken away to be crucified. The priest reveals the cross bearing our Lord’s Body and we each venerate it in our own way. Soon, the Holy Friday service ends and we exit the still church. Although we feel the emptiness and sadness, you have to wonder how much greater the feeling was for the Mother of God, His Apostles, and followers to see their beloved Jesus dead on the cross. We relive that moment, in a way, but we have the certitude of knowing we have a Holy Saturday in front of us and the exaltation of Easter to follow.

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O sacred head, surrounded
by crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding head, so wounded,
reviled and put to scorn!
Our sins have marred the glory
of thy most holy face,
yet angel hosts adore thee
and tremble as they gaze

I see thy strength and vigor
all fading in the strife,
and death with cruel rigor,
bereaving thee of life;
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying,
O turn thy face on me.

In this thy bitter passion,
Good Shepherd, think of me
with thy most sweet compassion,
unworthy though I be:
beneath thy cross abiding
for ever would I rest,
in thy dear love confiding,
and with thy presence blest.

Holy Thursday . . . Were You There?

On a Thursday, the day of the Passover, Jesus sent His Apostles, John and Peter to arrange a room for them to share for the Passover dinner. In the course of that meal, Jesus changed the apostles’ lives forever as they witnessed the first Mass ever celebrated on this earth. How amazing to ponder the fact that God sent down His Son to present the human race with this Gift. The priesthood was also instituted at that same meal. Jesus let it be known that Peter would have a very special role with the apostles and Jesus presented them with the command to love one another.

The beauty of that Last Supper soon changed to pain for the innocent Jesus who willingly came to earth to die for our sins. Jesus went with his apostles to the Mount of Olives to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Not being totally aware of where the evening was going, the apostles fell asleep instead of praying with Christ.

Then events seemed to speed up as Judas showed up leading the people who had paid him to show them who this man, Jesus was. The silver paid him might even have been about his person as Judas leaned in towards Jesus and gave him a fraternal kiss, the sign setting Jesus apart as the one the people sought. Peter took the side of resistence and started off by slashing off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus held Peter back from further demonstrations of violence, healed the servant’s ear and was taken away to stand before the high priests, Annas and Caiaphas. As we all know, the passage of events culminated in the Crucifixion of Jesus on the cross the next day.

Holy Thursday each year commemorates and reflects on Jesus’ last celebration of Passover on earth and the beginning of the new Church. Mass on this day usually begins in the evening. At the end of the Mass, a procession removes the Blessed Sacrament to a special altar for the night while the main altar is stripped of all the cloths, candles, and decorations. The usual hymn while this is being done is:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
1. Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Well, were you there when the stone was rolled away?Were you there when the stone was rolled away?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when the stone was rolled away?

No music accompanies the hymn making the soft voices of the choir seem more solemn. The church goes quiet and there is Adoration during the night, keeping watch.

Good Friday

Mary McCormack's photo.The emotional ups and downs of Holy Week can be as poignant, solemn, and anticipatory as when these events unfolded in the time of Jesus when he came down to earth to pay for our sins in return for our love. Looking around the world, especially today’s world, I can imagine that Jesus is shaking His head in disbelief. Yet, for those who are looking for a renewal of Faith and devotion, this could be the one time in the year where we can remember our roots and how we arrived at our respective places in life.
Upon entering the church, today, we will find an emptiness. The tabernacle door will be standing open, you will not find the Holy Water fonts filled, the altar is bare, and the mood is somber. Jesus was taken away at the end of Holy Thursday to be judged on sins He did not commit . . . for us.
Yes, many of us will be in church today but no will be hear Mass. The priest consecrated extra Hosts, last night as without a Mass being said, there will be no Consecration. We’ve all followed the Way of the Cross for the last six weeks in one way or the other and it ends today.