Good Friday – The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
The liturgy on Good Friday is the second step on the Triduum journey. In the context of the one great liturgy, the death of Christ is not to be isolated from the fullness of the Paschal mystery. Good Friday is not a time of mourning, but rather, of remembering, of seeing once again the boundless love of God expressed in the self-offering of his own Son. Though Jesus of Nazareth dies in shame on a cross, God’s love is so powerful that not even death can defeat it.
The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion has three distinct parts: the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross, and the Communion Service. It’s significant that the Gospel of John was chosen as the Passion account for this day. In John’s gospel the victory of Christ shines through every step of the way. Death is not seen as defeat but rather as the passage of Christ into his glory.
Today, the liturgy begins in silence. It is assumed that this is simply the continuation of the liturgy of the previous evening. During the liturgical
year, only the Good Friday and the Easter Vigil liturgies begin in this way. This reflects the true nature of the three days of the Triduum as being one extended celebration.
The primary symbol of today’s liturgy is the cross as a sign of victory and salvation. The Veneration of the Cross is one of the most ancient elements in liturgy today. We gather as family around the cross of Christ and embrace it as our own. As each of us has an opportunity to carry it, so too will we enjoy its victory and joy. We show our reverence by coming forward to kiss the feet of the Crucified. As we do so we find hope in the symbol of our salvation.
A simple communion rite concludes the service this day. We again depart in silence until we gather for the vigil on Easter Eve. During the day on Holy Saturday we are encouraged to spend some time in reflection on the burial of the Lord, allowing ourselves to sit quietly with the disciples as they wonder what to do next.