What is Good Friday?

10 04 2009

good-friday-1Happy Good Friday, everyone! Since some of you may not know where Good Friday comes from and what it really is, I decided to school everyone on it…

What is Good Friday? The Friday of Holy Week; it celebrates the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. In the Catholic church, it’s a fast day and falls within the Paschal Triduum [an occassion beginning the evening of Holy Thursday and ending the evening of Easter Sunday. It celebrates the heart of their faith: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.]

For Christians, Good Friday honors a historical event as well as the sacrificial death of Christ. Customs and prayers related to Good Friday generally focus on the theme of Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins.

Sunset on Good Friday is the beginning of the Second Day of the Paschal Triduum; worship services begin at 3:00 P.M. [the likely time Jesus would have died]. Several traditions and customs are linked with the Western observation of Good Friday. This includes the singing or preaching of  the Passion of St. John’s Gospels [reading or singing parts of St. John’s gospel], and the Veneration of the Cross [where Christians approach a wooden cross and honor it]. Other traditions are practiced as well.

Eastern Churches, on the other hand, have different traditions. They start the day with Matins [Morning Prayer], where the 12 Gospels are chanted [12 passages from the Passion narratives]. Vespers [Evening Prayer] ends with a grave veneration of the epitaphion, an embroidered veil with scenes of Christ’s burial. Compline [Night Prayer] includes a lamentation on the Virgin Mary’s lips. And on Good Friday Night, a symbolic burial of Jesus is presented. Other customs are practiced here as well.

History: The observation of Good Friday is ancient, and the day ultimately became a time of atonement and fasting as the anniversary of Christ’s. The name ‘Good Friday’ may come from ‘God Friday’, but the exact reason for the current name is unknown. Several churches [in addition to Catholics and Eastern Christians] celebrate Good Friday. These include Anglicans, Methodists and Lutherans.

For more info about Good Friday check out Good Friday: All about Good Friday.

Photo from www.greenlondoner.com.

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