What is Good Friday?

What is Good Friday?

What is Good Friday?

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is a day of solemn reflection for followers of many Christian denominations, including Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans and Methodists. Good Friday takes place on the Friday before Easter, so its date changes from year to year. 

Many Christians observe the day with prayer, and some with fasting. In the Roman Catholic tradition, believers mark Good Friday by praying the Stations of the Cross and reciting other devotional prayers

On this austere day of commemoration, “church bells are silent. Altars are left bare,” explains Catholic Online. “The solemn, muted atmosphere is preserved until the Easter Vigil.”

Similarly, in the Anglican tradition, “the church remains stripped of all decoration,” according to The Church of England’s official website. “It continues bare and empty through the following day, which is a day without a liturgy [an official religious rite].”

Unlike the Christian holidays of Easter and Christmas, Good Friday has not become secularized, notes The Encyclopedia Britannica. It remains a somber day of religious reflection for Christians worldwide, and has been so for centuries. 

What is the meaning of Good Friday?

For many Christians, Good Friday is a time to remember the suffering and dying of Jesus before marking the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. It’s a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by Christ to atone for humanity’s sins. 

In his message for Lent 2020, Pope Francis told his followers that by contemplating Christ’s sacrifice, they can reflect on their own sins and find mercy.

Good Friday marks the beginning of the end of Holy Week, which is the last week of Lent. The last three days of Holy Week are known as the “Triduum,” or the “Three Days,” which commemorate Jesus’ trial, death and resurrection. Triduum begins on the evening of Holy Thursday or “Maundy Thursday” (the day before Good Friday) and ends the evening of Easter Sunday. 

Good Friday is a bleak day for penance and remembering Christ’s sacrifice. However, it’s the very darkness of Good Friday that allows believers to feel joyful about the resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The Church of England outlines this dual purpose of Good Friday: 

“There can be no adequate way of recalling the being dead of the Son of God, other than silence and desolation,” the Church says. “But within the silence there grows a sense of peace and completion, and then rising excitement as the Easter Vigil draws near.”

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