It’s Good Friday


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Today is Good Friday. It is a day, a Christian holiday in the Church calendar, that commemorates the crucifixion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. It is observed during Holy or Passion Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. The other days of the Triduum are Holy Saturday and the Easter Sunday proper. The 40 days of Lenten observation of fasting, praying and abstinence ends on that day which also trips off the anticipation of the resurrection.
On that day as on Ash Wednesday that ushered in the Lent, most Christians, especially Catholics, abstain from eating meat. Good Friday is instituted as a legal holiday in many countries around the world, including in most Western countries (especially among Anglican and Catholic nations) as well as in 12 states in the United States of America. It is also a Holy day of obligation.
The day opens with the betrayal of Jesus through the instrumentality of Judas Iscariot and his subsequent arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. After the mock trial before the High Priest, Jesus was taken to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, under charges of subverting the nation, opposing taxes to Caesar, and making himself a king. Pilate authorized the Jewish leaders to judge Jesus according to their own law and execute sentence; however, the Jewish leaders replied that they were not allowed by the Romans to carry out a sentence of death.
Pilate himself did not find a basis for sentencing him to death yet under the guidance of the chief priests, the crowd asked for Barabbas, who had been imprisoned for committing murder during an insurrection. Warnings by Pilate’s wife could not sway the opinion of those already bent on taking out the Saviour. Coming before the crowd one last time, Pilate declared Jesus innocent and washed his own hands in water to show he had no part in this condemnation. Nevertheless, Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified in order to forestall a riot and ultimately to keep his job.
Jesus agonized on the cross for six hours. During his last three hours on the cross, from noon to 3 pm, darkness fell over the whole land. Jesus spoke from the cross, saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
With a loud cry, Jesus gave up his spirit. There was an earthquake, tombs broke open, and the curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. This tear, according to Christian tradition, signified a removal of restriction of the common Jews from the Temple’s “Holiest of Holies”, and that God’s people now could, themselves, communicate directly with their advocate before God, Jesus the Christ, rather than needing the Temple’s High Priest as an intercessor. The centurion on guard at the site of crucifixion declared, “Truly, this was God’s Son!”
Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and secret follower of Jesus and another secret follower of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus brought his body from the cross and buried him after they had obtained permission from Pilate. That was after a soldier had pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and water to flow out, and the centurion informed Pilate that Jesus was dead. Joseph and Nicodemus took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock in a garden near the site of crucifixion.
The events of Good Friday are commemorated in the Stations of the Cross, a 14-step devotion often performed by Catholics during Lent and especially on Good Friday. The Stations of the Cross are commonly observed on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. Another devotional, the Acts of Reparation, may also be prayed.
Good Friday is a day of fasting within the Church. Traditionally, it is the only day in the Catholic calendar that Mass and celebration of the Holy Eucharist are not allowed. A liturgy may still be performed and communion, if taken, comes from hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday. Baptism, penance, and anointing of the sick may be performed, but only in unusual circumstances. Church bells are silent. Altars are left bare.
The day ends with Veneration of the Cross.  On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. We unite ourselves to our Saviour, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord.

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