Thursday, April 21, 2011

Good Friday

V.  Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R.  Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

V.  We adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee.
R.  Because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world

It is already Good Friday Morning in Sydney (5:00 PM Holy Thursday Night on the East Coast).  We are still in the early hours of the 50-plus  hour liturgy that marks the Sacred Triduum.  Mass on Holy Thursday began with the Sign of the Cross but did not finish with the usual blessing.  Rather we processed out of the chapel with the Blessed Sacrament chanting the Pange Lingua Gloriosi as the Sacrament was taken to the altar of repose.  This afternoon the tripartite liturgy will neither begin nor end with the Sign of the Cross.  Similarly, on Saturday night  there will be no Sign of the Cross to begin the liturgy as the Paschal candle is blessed.  Only at the end of the Easter Vigil Mass will the Sign of the Cross be made over us, signaling the end of the prolonged liturgy.  That will be followed by the dismissal and the double Alleluia that marks the Easter Season.

Today is a day of fast, abstinence and recollection.  Holy Saturday is a particularly odd day.  Until after dark the Church is in a holding pattern.  No liturgies of any kind, no funerals, weddings, or any other kind of service is possible.  Only viaticum, communion taken to those who are at imminent risk of death, is permitted. 

The second reading from the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday describes the sense of the Church and her individual members: “Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness.  The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.  The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began.  God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.” (From The Liturgy of the Hours, Catholic Book Publishing, New York).  And so it goes as we commemorate Jesus’ passion and death. 

Very early in the long retreat each of us, in his meditation, stood in front of the cross as instructed by Ignatius:  “Imagine Christ our Lord present before you upon the cross, and begin to speak with Him, asking how it is that though He is the creator, He has stooped to become man, and to pass from eternal life to death here in time, that thus He might die for our sins.  I shall also reflect on myself and ask:

What have I done for Christ?
What am I doing for Christ?
What ought I to do for Christ?”

The covered crucifix will be brought into the church in procession accompanied by a triple chant sung a tone higher each time. 
“This is the wood of the cross.
O come let us worship.”

As the chant is intoned a portion of the crucifix will be uncovered until it is entirely exposed to our view. 

As each of us waits to venerate the crucifix we might keep in mind another colloquy adapted from the one written by Ignatius. 

I shall also reflect on Jesus Christ Crucified and ask:
“What has Christ done for me?
What is Christ doing for me?
What will Christ do for me?”

V.  Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R.  Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

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