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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Good God Friday

My goodness!
I thought I was delirious talking about Abe Lincoln and Good Friday, but it seems it has opened the door to a lot of questions about Good Friday. I should answer them or my name will be Mudd.

Dan E wants to know why it's called "Good" Friday.

No one knows. It's called a few different things. In Germany, for example, it's called 'Mourning Friday". It could be called Good Friday for the same reason we say 'Good-bye', which is just short hand for "God be with ye"; Good Friday could have been called 'God Friday'. My guess is that it's called "Good" because it was a good thing that it happened.

Kevin writes:
I am new to the faith, and I was wondering, why wouldn't President Lincoln have gone to the theater that Good Friday if he was Catholic?
Certainly, I understand the somberness of the holy day of our Lord's crucifixion, but is it objectionable to enjoy the evening with friends and family?

You are new aren't you! There is no end to the things Lincoln could have been doing on Good Friday if he was a good Catholic. Here's what Catholics are doing this week: we're walking with Jesus on His final path. It's quite a path.

On Thursday night after dinner, Jesus' life takes a turn for the worse. Knowing what's coming, He begs His friends to help Him through it, but they are sleepy from their big Passover dinner and all that wine and they all doze off. He begs God to let Him off the hook, but knows that His Father's Will must be done. He is arrested. His friends wake up long enough to run away in a panic. Only one of them and the girls come near Him again until His return from Hell.

He spends the night being hauled back and forth between the Romans and the Jewish Sanhedrin, being questioned, mocked, tied up, told off and finally taken off by the Romans to be scourged. Mel Gibson covered this part very well in surround sound and slow motion.

If you still feel like an relaxing evening with friends, perhaps you've lost track of what happens next, but if you are walking the path of Jesus this also involves someone asking the whole town if they would rather let you go....as you stand before them with a crown of thorns jammed onto your head, a bloody mess from your scourging....or the local three-teeth-no-neck-mouth-
breather-petty-thief, Barrabas. They pick the mouth breather. Your friends are busy pretending they don't know you.

At this point you no longer have to be on your own to contemplate the final hours of Jesus. You can walk the Stations of the Cross. You can observe "The Three Hours" by going to a church with a "The Three Hours" service between noon and 3pm or you can observe them at home by keeping silence and turning off your TV.

In the evening you can show up at church for the Good Friday Mass, which is called Mass but is not a Mass because the host is not consecrated during the service. (It's consecrated the day before on Holy Thursday. It's called "Holy" Thursday because it's really Holy although I'll admit it's a tad redundant because it happens during Holy Week.)

When you arrive at church you'll notice right away that things are grim. The altar is stripped, there are no decorations, no music (what a relief!). What Lincoln could have been doing instead of being shot in the back of the head would have been to kiss the foot of a giant crucifix that is slowly unveiled. Everyone kisses the feet of Jesus. Even germaphobes. There is a procession. Lincoln would have been able to hear no less than three priests reading the story of the Passion, instead of the light comedy, "Our American Cousin."

There is just nothing about observing Good Friday that calls for a toast or a juicy steak or a pinata or whatever you just got in from Netflix, or an evening seeing "Our American Cousin" or "Wicked". In fact, eating a juicy steak, unless you have a note from your doctor, is a sin of disobedience.

We have more questions but let's stop here for now. By the way Kevin, how is LeBron James doing? I gave up basketball for Lent.


cattiekit said...

Your name is *Mudd*? :>}

You are a punster on a par with my husband! :>D

DCMS said...

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

T.S. Eliot, East Coker
(Eliot should have been Catholic, too!)

Kevin said...

Thanks, Sister. Very informative!

I'll tell you how LeBron James is doing after Lent.

Constance Reader said...

Good morning Sister, I have a question for you:

All my life, my late mother called Holy Thursday "Maunday" Thursday. Did the Vatican just decide they didn't like that word anymore, or is there something else going on?

Thanks, S'ter.

Becky said...

My fiance's family calls it Maunday Thursday as well (they are Lutheran), along with most of the other Lutherans I know...From what I could find, it's just another name for Holy Thursday, but if there's more too it I would like to know as well!

Anonymous said...

Maudy Thursday is an English name (Anne Boleyn was a Lutheran until Henry VIII invented Episcopalians)that comes from Latin "Mandatus" Thursday. Mandatus means commandment, i.e. Jesus's commandment that we love one another. Also there's the commandment, "Do do this in remembrance of me." Hence footwashing and the eucharist.

denise said...

My father was raised as an Orthodox Jew and was initiated into the Catholic church 10 days before he married Mom.
He thought that Good Friday is called that because it was the first day of the Passover, which is always a 'Good Day' or special sabbath.

C said...

T.S. Eliot converted to Catholicism in 1927.

cattiekit said...

Thanks! I always wondered where "Maundy Thursday" came from. :>)