Good Friday, March 25, 2016

Jeremiah, Chapter 41, Verse 18
They were afraid of the Chaldeans, because Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, had slain Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had set over the land.

We fear violent people just as the Jews did in Jeremiah because they remind us of our frailty and of our eventual death. 

God is stronger than the Devil and his entire posse. God is stronger than all the communists, atheists, politicians, and propaganda ministers of our age. Our Lady tells us to not fear them, but fear God and pray. 

The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.  Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Rom. 1:18-25)

Good Friday[1]

WHAT does the Church commemorate on this day?
The death of Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Father, and the Savior of the world, who on this day was scourged, crowned with thorns, and most cruelly crucified between two thieves; through which bitter and ignominious passion and death He accomplished the redemption of mankind.[2]

Attending the Good Friday Service. The sacrifice of the altar is not offered on the day commemorating the sacrifice of the cross, and though communion may be distributed, the faithful are discouraged from receiving it without good reason. Instead, a mournful service is conducted. The priest, vested in black, reads several passages from the Bible, including the Passion account from the Gospel of John. Afterwards, the "Solemn Prayers" or "Collects" are offered on behalf of all classes of men, from the Church to the heathen. This is followed by the veneration of the cross, during which time the dolorous "Reproaches" are chanted. The service concludes with the "Mass of the Presanctified," a solemn communion rite.

Forty Hours' Devotion: It is traditionally believed that the duration of time from Christ's death until His Resurrection is forty hours, from 3 p.m. on Good Friday until 7 a.m. Easter Sunday. As early as the 100's it was customary for some of the faithful to fast and keep vigil during this entire period.

Other Good Friday Customs. If a devotion of forty hours could not be done, many Catholics observed Good Friday as a day of austerity as best they could. Fasting more than was required was common. Attending the Three Hours' Devotion, or Seven Last Words of Christ, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. (the hours our Lord hung upon the cross), has also been popular. Liturgically speaking, this is a relatively new observance, begun in Peru in the early 1700's, but it is a very effective one. An older tradition that has lamentably been forgotten, on the other hand, is that of the Holy Sepulchre, a special shrine set up to house either the Blessed Sacrament or a crucifix which the faithful could visit on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

The Sign of the Cross[3]

The most basic Christian gesture in prayer is and always will be the Sign of the Cross. (Pope Benedict XVI) “…by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14) Martyrs made the Sign as they were taken to their deaths.

The Sign of the cross is used in every single liturgy of the Church: sacraments, exorcisms, consecrations, and blessings[4]

·         "The sign of the cross is a symbolic expression of the principal mysteries of Christianity, a confession of the Catholic faith. It reminds us of the Crucified, of the price of our redemption, and of the value of our soul; it enkindles love of God, strengthens hope, and animates us to follow Christ on the way of the Cross. It indicates that in the cross we are to find our honor, our salvation, and our life; that we should prefer the folly and weakness of the cross to all the wisdom and power of the world, that, as disciples of the Crucified, we should combat under the banner of the cross and by this sign triumph over all our enemies."

·         St. Francis de Sales: "We raise the hand first to the forehead, saying, 'In the name of the Father,' to signify that the Father is the First Person of the Most Holy Trinity, of whom the Son is begotten and from whom the Holy Ghost proceeds. Then saying, 'and the Son,' the hand is lowered to the breast, to express that the Son proceeds from the Father, who sent Him down to the womb of the Virgin. Then the hand is moved from the left shoulder or side to the right, while saying, 'and of the Holy Ghost,' thereby signifying that the Holy Ghost, as the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, proceeds from the Father and the Son, that He is the Love that unites both, and that we, through His grace, partake of the fruits of the passion. Accordingly the sign of the cross is a brief declaration of our faith in the three great mysteries: of our faith in the Blessed Trinity, in the passion of Christ, and in the forgiveness of sin, by which we pass from the left side of curse to the right of blessing."

·         The Sign of the Cross is likened by the Fathers to the true cross of Christ.

·         The Sign of the Cross is source of all blessings and graces, the weapon and armor of our defense against the evil spirit... as sign of Christ's victory over sin, death, and hell.

·         God has imparted to the sign of the cross an efficacy, because of honors and merits of the Crucified.

·         Efficacy greater if sign of cross made with devout and believing disposition, recollection of mind, devotion of heart, love towards the Crucified.

As this is Good Friday try to see our Lord weighted down with our sins which he carried with him on the way of the cross; that beam was indeed heavy for it was our sins and it tore a great unrecorded wound in his shoulder. I wonder, “What are the five most hateful sins that our Lord bore in that cross?” In an article by Zac Poonen, he proposed that the five most hated sins by our Lord are:

·         Hypocrisy: To be a hypocrite is to give others the impression that we are holier than we actually are. It is the same as being false, or telling a lie. Jesus pronounced a curse on hypocrites seven times in Mt. 23:13-29. Jesus told the Pharisees that their inner life was ""full of self-indulgence"" (Mt. 23:25) - which meant that they lived only to please themselves. God looks at our hearts.
·         Spiritual Pride: We all know the parable of the self-righteous Pharisee who despised others even in his prayer (Lk. 18:9-14)! Jesus hated the pride with which he thought of his spiritual activities and with which he despised makes believers constantly judge other believers. Jesus taught that the greatest person in heaven would be the humblest (Mt. 18:4). The greatest virtue found in heaven is humility. This is why it is the first of the seven virtues (Humility, Generosity, Chastity, Patience, Temperance, Understanding and Wisdom) of Mary Christ’s mother.
·         Impurity: Impurity enters into our hearts mainly through our eyes and our ears. Anyone who seeks to be pure must therefore be especially careful about what he sees and what he hears. Jesus hated impurity so much that He told His disciples that they should be willing to pluck out their right eye and cut off their right hand rather than sin with those members (Mt. 5:27-29). When do doctors recommend the amputation of the right hand or the surgical removal of an eye? Only when things have become so bad that without the removal of these organs, the whole body would die. This is what we need to understand in relation to sin as well. Sin is so serious that it can imperil our very life. Most believers have not realized this and that is why they are careless in the way they use their tongues and their eyes.
·         Indifference To Human Need: Jesus was angry when the leaders of the synagogue did not want Him to heal a man, just because it was the Sabbath day ""He was deeply disturbed by their indifference to human need"" (Mk. 3:5 - Living). We are commanded to do good to all men, especially to the children of God (Gal. 6: 10). Jesus taught that those who did nothing to help their brothers who were in need of the basic necessities of life, would be cast out of His presence in the final day (Mt. 25:41-46). Those who do not help their brothers in need cannot possibly have the love of God dwelling in their hearts (1Jn. 3:17). Jesus spoke out strongly on such matters because He hated the attitude that many religious people had who were concerned only with religious activities but not with helping their needy brothers.
·         Unbelief: Bible speaks of an unbelieving heart as an EVIL heart (He. 3: 12) Jesus rebuked His disciples seven times for unbelief. (See Mt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:17-20; Mk.16:14; Lk.24:25). It seems that He almost never rebuked His disciples for anything else!! Unbelief is an insult to God, because it implies that God does not care or provide for His children even as much as evil fathers on earth care and provide for their children.





[2] Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.
[3] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 2. The Sign of the Cross.
[4] http://www.stjosephstoledo.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=96:october-18-2009-homily-the-sign-of-the-cross&catid=14:homilies&Itemid=13

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