March 30, 2018
On this most somber day in the liturgy of the Church we are struck by the altar stripped of all ornaments and the door of the tabernacle standing open leaves us with a sense of loss. The services of the day are quite different as there no Mass only a series of intercessions, the reading of the Passion which graphically details the suffering and death of Our Blessed Lord. This is followed by the veneration of the cross.
All of these images vividly bring back my visit to the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. As you enter the church there a slab which is venerated as the place where the body of Jesus was laid after the crucifixion. Moving through the church, there are many chapels belonging to the Greek Orthodox and Coptic rites. In the midst of these chapels stands the pillar where Christ was scourged. The tours continued climbing the many steps to the place of Calvary. There are two chapels built over this site, one belongs to the Greek Orthodox and the other is the Roman rite, cared for by the Franciscans. At Mass that morning the passion according Luke was read and it had such an impact standing on Calvary.
In this gospel Our Blessed Lord utters from the cross to the goof thief, ”This day you will be with me in paradise.” What a wonderful message of forgiveness and hope for all of us coming from Our Lord as He suffers and dies for our sins. In the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, ”without a Good Friday there could be no Easter Sunday.”
I leave you with a centering thought as we mediate on the Passion, and it comes from the last line of the prayer of St Francis. “AND IT IS IN DYING WE ARE BORN TO ETERNAL LIFE.”
Dr Vincent McClean
St. Anthony Parishioner (and Papal Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, Adult Faith Formation Committee)