Celebrated during Holy Week, Good Friday commemorates the Passion and death of Christ on the cross. Part of the three days of the Easter Triduum, Good Friday takes place on the Friday before Easter. For Christians, Good Friday is a day of recollection and penance, marked by fasting and prayer.
Discover the meaning of Good Friday for Christians, the Passion, and finally the devotions and prayers that mark this holy day, as Christ gives his life for us!
For Christians, Good Friday is a day of recollection, prayer and penance. In fact, on this day, the Church commemorates the Passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the founding event of our entire Christian faith since by the voluntary offering of his life, Christ assures us of our redemption!
The course of Good Friday is given to us in the Gospels: shortly after Christ's last meal with his disciples - on the evening of Holy Thursday - Jesus went to the Garden of Olives to watch and pray. It is in this place that his disciple Judas betrayed him and he was arrested. Brought before the high priests, then before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, accused of usurping the title of Messiah and son of God, he was condemned to crucifixion, a punishment reserved for great criminals.
Flogged, insulted, humiliated, the guards made him a crown of thorns by calling him "king of the Jews". Then, Jesus was led to Mount Golgotha, meaning "Calvary": he himself carried his heavy cross on a painful journey called "Way of the Cross".
Finally, Jesus was crucified, next to two robbers: one of them recognized him as the Savior. After a few hours of great suffering, he expired at three in the afternoon in a loud cry: then the sky became black, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. The body of Jesus was then taken down from the cross and placed at the tomb.
For Christians, Good Friday is one of the two days of the year - along with Ash Wednesday - when the Catholic Church recommends fasting and abstinence, in order to remember the Passion of Christ and the suffering he endured for us.
On Good Friday, a special service takes place, called "celebration of the Passion of the Lord": celebrated between 12 pm and 3 pm, it is centered on the story of the Passion of Jesus. The gospel read each year is that of the Passion according to Saint John, which traces the entire story of the Passion from a different angle from the three other evangelists.
Although this service is not a Mass, the liturgy is modeled on the traditional structure of the Mass: one reads three readings and the faithful can still take communion with the consecrated hosts on Holy Thursday. During the service, the faithful can also come forward to venerate the cross by touching or kissing it.
At the Good Friday service, the Church solemnly proclaims a long universal prayer, in order to pray for the Church, for the Pope, for the clergy and the faithful, for catechumens, for the unity of Christians, for the Jewish people, for other believers, for unbelievers, for the public authorities, and finally for all those who are in difficulty. A collection is also carried out on this day for Eastern Christians.
On Good Friday, there is also the Way of the Cross, in order to invite the faithful to relive the path of Christ to Golgotha.
For Christians, Good Friday, the day of the death of Christ, is often seen negatively! The Catechism of the Catholic Church helps us to enter into the understanding of the death of Christ. Here are some quotations: "The Paschal Mystery of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ is the center of the good news announced by the Catholic Church [...]. The violent death of Jesus must not be considered the result of chance in an unfortunate combination of circumstances” (CCC 571, 599). This Jesus himself affirms when he declares: "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (John 10:18).
Indeed, the death of Christ is the supreme act of love, “the death of Christ is both the paschal sacrifice which accomplishes the definitive redemption of man and the sacrifice of the new covenant which brings man back into communion with God” (CCC 613).
Moreover, the Passion and death of Christ only make sense if they are linked to his Resurrection: "the same act of faith that accepts and also understands why Christ died and was buried accepts and also understands why he rose on the third day." (CCC Reading Guide).
“Lord Jesus, we will, in tears and hope, accompany you on your Way of the Cross. Often, under the weight of our hatreds, or perhaps our indifference, you stagger, you fall, and the dust fills your mouth. Let us then help you, mysteriously designated as Simon of Cyrene was. And that we dare, like Veronica, to wipe your stained face to reveal to the world its Light. We will read and meditate on the most poignant texts of the Gospels, and also of Isaiah and the lamentations of Jeremiah. We will do it together, Christians of East and West, for everywhere the sun rises, everywhere it sets: the East and the West are in us. In the dawn of the third millennium, the Spirit shows the youth of Christianity. Yes, today Christianity begins in poverty and forgiveness. At the foot of the Cross, nothing separates us anymore, our eyes converge on you, and we need the gaze of the other to know you better and to love you. All the pain of the world is concentrated in these hours of your Passion. Today, the Father is often rejected by saying he is guilty of evil. It is voluntarily that in death you sink, bringing the true answer to Job, to the innumerable Jobs of history. Through the wounds of your hands, your feet, your side, probably your heart, it is the light now that shines to change everything in Resurrection. Make us, in the strength and pride of the Spirit, witnesses of love as strong as death (Corinthians 8:6). Show us in the convulsions of history, the woman clothed with the sun (Revelations 12:1), both your Mother and your Church and that she gives birth to a transfigured world. To you, Father, through Christ, in the Spirit, all honor and glory in the ages of ages. So be it.”
Olivier Clément (1921-2009)
On Good Friday, we are called to remain with Christ, at the foot of the Cross, as was his holy Mother the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Saint John! In this great mystery of the death of Christ, let us meditate on the greatest proof of love that God has for us. And already, on this holy day, we are called to enter into the joy of the resurrection, the culminating truth of all our faith!
With Hozana, pray and meditate on Good Friday thanks to the beautiful communities of prayer offered: