Meatless Friday: Final 2010 Edition
It's hard to believe that Lent is coming to a close. In the Catholic Church, Good Friday is one of the most, if not the most solemn day. Not only is there no meat, it's also a day of fasting. That meaning has changed through the years: today it means that we only eat 1 big meal (meatless of course). Since the fasting doesn't go into effect until you turn 18 years old (when children turn 14 they are to abstain from eating meat), I don't really have any memories of starving during that day! One tradition on Good Friday is eating Hot Cross Buns. I remember my mom making them for us to eat. Unfortunately, most recipes that call for yeast and the rising of the dough don't cooperate with me! Maybe I'm just too impatient.
Since Ash Wednesday, there have been no "Alleluias" or "Hallelujahs" in church. Do you know I was well into my 30's when I learned that? Is that sad, or what? I mean, how could I not have missed that in all of my previous Lents? No wonder hearing the "Alleluias" on Easter made my heart sing so much!
If you went to the Good Friday Service today, here's what you would see: Readings, a homily (sermon), special intentions (usually sung), veneration of the cross, Communion. After the service, you would watch the altar being stripped, followed by the silent recessional (no music) of the Priest and altar servers, followed by the silence of the congregation leaving the Church. There is no talking until you get outside of the building, but sometimes that silence will carry over into the parking lot. For the veneration of the cross, the congregation goes to the altar where there is a crucifix, and kisses Jesus' feet. There is a wonderful explanation on Catholic Online:
In the seventh century, the Church in Rome adopted the practice of Adoration of the Cross from the Church in Jerusalem, where a fragment of wood believed to be the Lord's cross had been venerated every year on Good Friday since the fourth century. According to tradition, a part of the Holy Cross was discovered by the mother of the emperor Constantine, St. Helen, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326. A fifth century account describes this service in Jerusalem. A coffer of gold-plated silver containing the wood of the cross was brought forward. The bishop placed the relic on the a table in the chapel of the Crucifixion and the faithful approached it, touching brow and eyes and lips to the wood as the priest said (as every priest has done ever since): 'Behold, the Wood of the Cross.'
Adoration or veneration of an image or representation of Christ's cross does not mean that we are actually adoring the material image, of course, but rather what it represents. In kneeling before the crucifix and kissing it we are paying the highest honor to the our Lord's cross as the instrument of our salvation. Because the Cross is inseparable from His sacrifice, in reverencing His Cross we are, in effect, adoring Christ. Thus we affirm: 'We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou has Redeemed the World.'
It really is humbling to kiss the feet of Jesus on the crucifix. For communion, the host that was consecrated last night is used; there is no Mass, so there is no consecration of the host. During the consecration, we believe that the bread and wine actually becomes Jesus (transubstantiation). The Good Friday Service is a very powerful service. We're used to singing at the end of Mass; when you watch the altar being stripped, it is so emotional and overwhelming. Good Friday is not a 'Holy Day of Obligation' (days where we must go to Mass), but, if you ever get the chance to attend, do it!
I've really enjoyed writing "Meatless Friday". I honestly didn't have that in mind when I started blogging; it just kind of happened. I hope that I have dispelled some misconceptions that some may have had about the Catholic Religion. I have appreciated that visitors have shown respect to my posts and my religion. I also appreciate that Catholic visitors have let me know that they think I was "dead on" with the way I see things. It always helps to know that I don't have misconceptions about my own faith!
My Lenten promise was to read the daily readings, visit the Video Daily Reflections, read the "Little Black Book" every day, and go to Mass every Sunday. Looking back over the past 6 weeks, I can honestly say that I've gotten more in touch with my faith.
If you have visited with me on Fridays and read "Meatless Friday": Thank you for bearing with me while I get back in touch with my Catholicism. If you chose not to read it, I respect your decision, and hope that you'll come back to visit!
This song really tears me up when I hear it: (The actual song starts at around 57 seconds)
Here's hoping everyone has a Holy, Happy Easter!