Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

In our community a procession will wind through downtown, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.

“Sacramento-area members of the lay Catholic movement Community and Liberation will take the observance to the streets of the capital city today. "We go through the city where people are working," said Katie Eason, an organizer of the Way of the Cross event.

“The procession will begin at 9 a.m. in Crocker Park at N and Third streets, and end about 11:15 on the steps of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament at 11th and K streets. This is the 11th year that the group has sponsored the walk through downtown.

“Led by two or three individuals who will take turns carrying a wooden cross, an anticipated 100 to 150 participants will walk in silence but stop at four "stations" along the way to sing and read from the Gospel, as well as the works of poets.

“The procession, a family-oriented event, will arrive at the cathedral in time for the traditional noon Good Friday service.”

The Catholic Thing offers a wonderful reflection on this most sacred day.

“I learned at a young age about the importance and uniqueness of Good Friday. It was the only day of the year that my father worked only a half day: “Jesus died at 3:00 p.m., I came home early in honor of Him.” Each year we attended the Good Friday liturgy as a family, which was memorable for its nuances in the standard ritual, but it never captivated my imagination. It was not until I was an undergraduate that I discovered, thanks to a kind professor, a sort of Good Friday devotion to center my contemplation of the incomprehensible: the empty tabernacle.

“It’s a striking image: the doors of the tabernacle are wide open, exposing a gaping void. Therein our Lord once dwelled in his body, blood, soul, and divinity, beckoning the wearied and burdened to throw their cares upon Him. On other occasions, before entering and exiting our pew, we did Him homage by genuflecting toward this abode, perhaps catching a glimpse of the sanctuary lamp that burned as a reminder of His presence. But not today. The lamp has been extinguished, the doors thrown open, the tabernacle emptied, the church stripped. “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” (John 20:13) The empty tabernacle declares to all what happened on this day: our Lord has died to save us from our sins.

“All morning the tabernacle lays open, for Jesus is no longer present there. He has given Himself over to cruel men who are leading Him to death. It’s a familiar but always fresh story: the trial and interrogation, the scourging, the jeering and spitting, the crowning of thorns, the hysteria of the crowds, the vacillations of Pilate, the slow march to Golgotha. There at high noon Jesus was nailed to a cross, the electric chair of ancient Rome, between two bandits. For three hours, His body was suspended from the hard wood, pouring out His blood for our salvation. Then, at the very moment that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple, the true Lamb of God cries out one final time and breathes His last.

“Our Good Friday liturgy takes its start at this moment, as the priest prostrates himself in an act of mourning and sorrow. Our solemn prayers and recollections continue as the tabernacle remains open and empty. The previous night Jesus gave us His body and blood in the Eucharist so that, in communion with Him always, we might have life, and have it abundantly. Today we are reminded that the gift of the Eucharist is a real sacrifice that cost our Lord His life. There is no Mass – no sacramental re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice – because today we commemorate the actual sacrifice. The Mass applies the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice to our souls, but today in our grief, we instead relive Christ’s sacrifice along with Him.”