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Liturgical Meaning of Holy Week: Great & Holy Friday

Index to articles:

Great and Holy Friday

Holy-Friday final

From the light of Holy Thursday we enter into the darkness of Friday, the day of Christ's Passion, Death and Burial. In the early Church this day was called "Pascha of the Cross," for it is indeed the beginning of that Passover or Passage whose whole meaning will be gradually revealed to us, first, in the wonderful quiet of the Great and Blessed Sabbath, and then, in the joy of the Resurrection day.

If only we could realise that on Great and Holy Friday (Megali Paraskevi Gk.) darkness is not merely symbolical and commemorative. So often we watch the beautiful and solemn sadness of these services in a spirit of self-righteousness and self-justification. Two thousand years ago bad men killed Christ, but today we - the good Christian people -- erect sumptuous Tombs in our Churches - is this not the sign of our goodness? Yet, Good Friday deals not with the past alone. It is the day of Sin, the day of Evil, the day on which the Church invites us to realise their awful reality and power in "this world." For sin and evil have not disappeared, but, on the contrary, still constitute the basic law of the world and of our life.

And we, who call ourselves Christians, do we not so often make ours that logic of evil which led the Jewish Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate, the Roman soldiers and the whole crowd to hate, torture and kill Christ? On what side, with whom would we have been, had we lived in Jerusalem under Pilate? This is the question addressed to us in every word of the Holy Friday services. It is the revelation of the true nature of the world which preferred then and still prefers darkness to light, evil to good and death to life. Having condemned Christ to death, "this world" has condemned itself to death and inasmuch as we accept its spirit, its sin, its betrayal of God - we are also condemned. Such is the first and dreadfully realistic meaning of Good Friday: a condemnation to death.

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