minima maxima sunt

The Small things are the Great things; as in a grain of mustard seed.

Archive for the tag “good friday”

Good Friday

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The scenes from the Good Friday found in the famous book of hours, Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, show a progression of events from the Crucifixion to the entombment of Christ. In a similar way the Stations of the Cross, a lenten devotion, takes us on a spiritual pilgrimage along the journey of Christ from his being condemned to the entombment. It is understood that from noon to 3:00 Christ suffered on the Cross, and then He died. During this time, silence, contemplation, reflection, or devotions like the Stations should bring us all to a place of stillness as we consider the profound implication of God dying.

I suppose to many people today there may not be much meaning in the gospel, especially the gory and brutal segment concerning the Crucifixion. People have spent too much time inventing ways to avoid the problem of things like sin, shame and guilt. Some to the point that they don’t even believe in such ideas anymore, making allowance and exception for their actions, though they often don’t make the same exceptions for the actions of others. G.K.Chesterton stated that the easiest way to avoid the problem of sin was to simply say that there is no sin, and this may be the way of the world today. Responsibility means letting others deal with the consequences of my actions and accountability has become a series of pointing fingers at the next guy. Not that things were really different during the time of Christ. After all things like blame and corruption started right from the garden. They have been there from the start and will be there til the end. But here in the story of Christ, and especially in this retelling of the Passion, we come face to face with the consequences of our actions and watch as another takes our blame. And as God is bent low, crushed and broken, and the last breath escapes from the Incarnation, I am left there as a bystander with the gift of forgiveness staring back at me with eyes fading.

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Hidden.

Cross Covered in Purple during Passiontide

One of customs practiced during Lent is the covering of the Cross and statues/images with purple cloths. This occurs during the last two weeks before Easter. In older days this time called Passiontide and started on Passion Sunday, which was the 5th sunday of the Lenten season. Passiontide would end on Good Friday. Some churches still celebrate Passiontide, but in the Catholic church the name is no longer used even though the tradition is still practiced.

There are a few ideas behind the covering of these objects during this time. The first is to take focus off of the churches ornamentation and to bring attention to the penitential season of Lent, focusing on the Passion of Christ only. The Cross is also covered and will be revealed again on Good Friday, to emphasize Christ bearing the Cross on that day. Another way the covering reminds us of the passion concerns the Gospel account of the curtain being torn in the Temple in Jerusalem at Christs death.

Mark 15:37-39 And Jesus, having cried out with a loud voice, gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. And the centurion who stood over against him, seeing that crying out in this manner he had given up the ghost said: Indeed this man was the son of God.

Via Crucis

Station 13 Jesus' Body is removed from the Cross

One of the customs practiced by Catholics during the season of Lent is a devotion in the form of a “virtual pilgrimage”. This devotion is commonly known as the Stations of the Cross, or the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis). It is a representation of what many may know as the Via Dolorosa, or the way of sorrows, which follows the path Christ carried the cross to be crucified. For Catholics it is a spiritual pilgrimage where we reflect on the passion of Christ.

If you have ever been in a Catholic church you may have noticed a series of pictures or carved scenes that surround the seating area (the nave). These are the Stations of the Cross and each one highlights a scene from the passion of Christ as they progress through the entire set of 14. The Stations start with Jesus  being sentenced to death and ending with Him being placed in the tomb. In Jerusalem these stations are found on the Via Dolorosa, nine of which are on the route and the last five in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which is where the Via Dolorosa ends.

Twelfth Station-Jesus dies on the Cross

During Lent the Stations are celebrated on Friday’s and especially on Good Friday, the day when Christ was crucified and placed in the tomb. It is an excellent service! The Priest and attendants carry a cross around the church where the stations are located and prayers are said with some explanation about the particular station. It is a simple devotion with participation between the priest and people as most catholic devotions are but can also be done privately throughout the year as the Stations do not get removed after Lent. They can also be done privately at home and several internet sites offer the Stations as well. Here is an online version with reflections by St. Paul of the Cross at http://www.cptryon.org/prayer/xstations/stpaulofcross/index.html.

Station 5-Simon of Cyrene carries the Cross

Historically the Stations come from actual pilgrimages to the holy land. Sometimes this was for personal devotion and sometimes as a penance. But, such a pilgrimage may have been a hard task for many who were not wealthy and as the world changed, passage to Jerusalem was at times cut-off or simply too dangerous. The Franciscans, who in 1342 were care takers of Christian holy places in Jerusalem formed the Stations and devotion of the Via Dolorosa, and so formed the “virtual” practice as well. These began to appear in the 15th and 16th centuries as outdoor shrines. Later they began to appear in the church buildings under the supervision of the Franciscans.

The traditional Stations are:

1.Jesus is condemned to death
2.Jesus accepts the cross
3.Jesus falls the first time
4.Jesus meets His Mother
5.Simon of Cyrene carries the cross
6.Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7.Jesus falls the second time
8.Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
9.Jesus falls the third time
10.Jesus is stripped of His garments
11.Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
12.Jesus dies on the cross
13.Jesus’ body is removed from the cross (Deposition or Lamentation)
14.Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense.

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