Yesterday evening we gathered for the Mass of the Last Supper. It was a poignant and moving service, as ever, and I was grateful to the additional singers who bolstered our choir. Their singing of the lamentations was the perfect accompaniment to the stripping of the sanctuary. I was also delighted to see such a positive response from the congregation. With over 130 in attendance it was standing room only by the time the Mass began. With the Muandy Thursday liturgies over we must now take our place at the foot of the cross..
Good Friday has always been set apart, within the Christian world, as a day of fasting and abstinence. For those fasting the rule is one modest main meal and two other small meals that, together, must not amount to more than the main meal. We must also avoid meat and stick to basic items.
In church our attention is now directed solely on the suffering Christ. At 10am we have stations for children. At 11:15am we join other churches in Pembury for a short ecumenical witness on the green. At 1:30pm it is Stations of the Cross for adults and at 3pm it is the important service at which all should strive to be present- the Liturgy of Good Friday. The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion comprises three main parts:
The Liturgy of the Word
It is an ancient tradition of the Church that the entire account of Christ’s passion is intoned during the Good Friday liturgy. As we hear again how Jesus suffered and died for the sins of the world we recognise our own failings and pray for grace to overcome them. After the homily special intercessions are offered which consist of a series of biddings unique to this day. These are ancient in origin.
The Veneration of the Cross
A crucifix is brought forward in solemn procession and unveiled for us to venerate. Within the liturgy, as Christ works out the redemption of the world, aspects of our liturgical life are being handed back to us. Thrice the priest proclaims “this is the wood of the cross on which hung the Saviour of the world”The congregation come forward to venerate the cross with a kiss. An act of personal devotion in thanksgiving for the sacrifice of Christ.
The Liturgy of the Sacrament
Because Christ is dead, there can be no Mass this day. Instead the Holy Sacrament, reserved at last night’s celebration, is carried in procession from the altar of repose to be distributed to the faithful. After this it is removed altogether and hidden, for use in emergency only. Christ has died.