Even the most non-liturgical Christians tend to recognize this day, Good Friday, as a special day. Some independent groups will do everything within their power to ignore it but even the big non-denominational churches will often celebrate Good Friday and Easter. I do find it more than curious that they pick and choose the days they want to celebrate and say the rest is neither important nor beneficial. This underscores, again, the radical anti-traditional nature of some evangelical Christianity. I grew up in this kind of faith but long ago began a journey away from it to where I now enter into Holy Week with great solemnity and deep joy. It has made a significant difference in my life I assure you.
The celebration of our Lord’s passion on the cross is held in the afternoon of this day, Good Friday. The common texts used for this occasion are Isaiah 52:13–53:12, Hebrews 4:14–16, and Hebrews 5:7–9, as well as the passion narrative from the Fourth Gospel. More liturgically defined churches will include ancient prayers of petition and a communion service. (The Catholic Church does not have a Mass on this day but does venerate the cross!) From the thirteenth century until 1955 only the priest received communion. Catholics are obligated to receive Eucharist during the Easter season, which in the U. S. is defined as the period between Ash Wednesday through Trinity Sunday, which is the Sunday after Pentecost. This obligation was established by the Lateran Council IV in 1215. The sad fact is that the majority of Catholics seem to ignore this practice in whole or in part, though multitudes more will then celebrate Good Friday and Easter. Confessions will increase during this time but the majority of Catholics in America still do not practice confession and reconciliation seriously.
Lent ended yesterday with the Eucharist. Today is the first day of the Holy Triduum, the holiest three days in Christian history. Today we remember the crucifixion of our Lord.
Crucifixion simply refers to putting one to death by nailing them to a wooden cross. It was a Roman form of capital punishment, likely meant to deter crime through a horrific form of death and dying. A body was impaled on a stake, a gibbet, and publicly exhibited so all could see the horror. Jews have generally found this part of the Christian story the hardest point to absorb since the Old Testament speaks specifically of the curse of God being as one hung upon a tree. But some early Jewish followers of Jesus interpreted his cross as divinely given victory over death. Here the power of light shines through the grim darkness of this occasion.
Good Friday is a very special day for Christians who see it as an appointed way to remember the death of their Savior in the flow of normal time and the liturgical calendar. This is why most Christians will worship Christ on this special day. I will solemnly join them at the cross of Christ my Lord. I hope you will too.