When we look at Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, it is helpful to think of them not as three separate days but all essential parts of the same event. You might notice that the services on both Holy
Thursday and Good Friday end in silence. There is no priestly blessing as at most other ceremonies. This is because the ritual is not over but continues on the next day.
In previous weeks, we have discussed the ritual of washing of feet and hands on Holy Thursday. This act of humility and ritual purity serves to focus on the reason for our celebration, the great gift of the Eucharist. Holy Thursday ends with the reposition of the Blessed Sacrament in a separate chapel, leaving the church empty and preparing the Church for the narrative of the Passion to be read on Good Friday. Good Friday is the only day of the year on which there is no Mass celebrated. The Church grieves for the death of the Lord and reflects on the meaning of the cross.
A very moving ritual of Good Friday is the Adoration of the Holy Cross. After the reading of the Passion, the faithful are given the opportunity to reverence the cross which is the symbol of our redemption. The cross is carried into the church in much the same way as the Easter Candle will be carried at the Easter Vigil with the minister pausing three times to show the cross to the people, the “wood on which hung the salvation of the world.” We are invited to come and adore.
Finally, the celebration of Easter begins with the Vigil on Holy Saturday. After sundown, a new fire is kindled from which is lit the Easter Candle that is alight with the flame of Christ throughout the Easter Season, symbol of Christ, the light of the world and our share in the Resurrection. Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are celebrated for the Elect of our Church and we are encouraged to reflect on the meaning of Christ’s sacramental presence in our own lives.
I would like to invite everyone to take part in the celebration of these great mysteries of our faith.