As I said last week, I’m posting some early reflections on Holy Week, written last year when I came into the Catholic church. There’s more below, in the “Going Catholic” tab. Hope you enjoy!
Good Friday, 2012
Another service at St. Mary’s that is both the same and different from all the Episcopal services I grew up with.
Since it’s a Catholic church, you look at that big, giant crucifix every day—except today. Today the figure of Jesus was draped in red cloth. In every other Good Friday service I’ve been to, the cross was draped in black. Not here. Red.
We did the Passion readings again, where the priest takes the voice of Jesus and we take the voice of the crowd, and there is a narrator and another voice in between. What struck me from the reading from the Gospel of John was that Jesus knew. He knew everything. He knows all that has happened and will happen in my life, too.
When that was over, Father Enda gave a short homily, and then he led us in a spontaneous, acappella rendition of “Amazing Grace.” That made me feel more at home.
But just as quickly, everything was different. Father Enda said, “Viva Christo Rey.” And all the Spanish-speaking voices shouted out with gusto, “!Viva Christo Rey!” I looked it up when I got home. It is a reference to the martyrdom of a Mexican priest. Apparently the Mexican government has a history of repression of the Catholic church. Who knew? It only resulted in a very Catholic country and many people who remain Catholic even when they come to America.
Then we started the Veneration of the Cross. I thought it would just be some people going forward, like in the washing of the feet last night, but it was everyone. Father Enda took my hand. That always makes me cry. I wanted to touch the “hem” of the cross. Of course, I got nervous. I knelt and touched as low as I could. Suddenly, it was all real.
While we were processing forward, the choir sang. One of the songs I didn’t know but really liked was called “O Silent God.” Of course, I knew and loved “What Wondrous Love is This.”
I thought we didn’t have communion on Good Friday, but I was wrong. The altar was stripped bare. It’s actually wood. I liked it better that way. I got a blessing instead of Communion one last time. I actually sort of, kind of fasted (for me, anyway), going from 3 p.m. until after the service ended at 8:30 p.m. And afterward I only ate a granola bar. It felt right. I just wanted to try.
Then we sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.” But we didn’t “lay Him in the tomb.” That’s tomorrow.