The day the world stopped. Given the situation we are in, it does feel like to world has stopped. Not necessarily on or for Good Friday, but in general has stopped. I want to take this opportunity to reflect with you on the strangeness of Good Friday and garner the sense that the world stopped for and on this day. Obviously this is the day that Jesus died and the entire cosmos changed. Not only was it a general change, but the people who witnessed Jesus’ death saw dramatic changes: the earth quaked, the sun went dark, tombs were opened, and the veil in the temple was torn in two. These dramatic changes marked that something important had happened. We do not experience anything that dramatic on this day. For the vast majority of us this day will be like any other ordinary day. If we want to experience the dramatic effects of this day, we are going to have to put some effort into making it that way.
The Church, however, does not experience the “ordinariness” of this day. As Bishop Vetter commented about in his post for Good Friday, the Sacraments stop for this day. Priests are not allowed to celebrate any Sacraments on Good Friday except if the person is in danger of death. Good Friday is the only day of the year during which no Mass is celebrated. The Good Friday liturgy is just that, a liturgy. I cannot consecrate the bread and wine on this day, and the liturgy of Good Friday will make that point clear. If you walk into a church from the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday to the end of the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, you will notice some marked differences to the church. The altar is barren, the tabernacle is empty and the vigil light is extinguished, the candles are removed, everything is dark and empty. These changes help us to feel the absence of this day, the feeling of death and the reality that Jesus, our priest and God, has died.
How can we appreciate and experience the death of our Lord and the power of Good Friday? The answer is simple: keep the day super simple. Choose to fast and not eat meat on this day. Turn off unnecessary technology and choose other tasks like walking, resting, and prayer. Read the Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus. Do something to mark this day as something special and different. The choice is always before us. How do I want to react to this day? Good Friday is something special; the day the universe stopped. If we want to experience the profoundness of this day, we must also momentarily stop.