If you've read the Faith & Spirituality page on this blog, then you know that up until my early thirties, my Christian faith was practiced and lived out in a non-denominational evangelical setting. Though from infancy through this point in adulthood I had attended a number of different churches, Good Friday always looked pretty much the same: the service would be spent describing and mourning the suffering and death of Christ. Prior to our dismissal, the pastor would remind us in his own words of the following truth: "Friday happened, but Sunday's coming."
He would be referring, of course, to the celebration of the resurrection -- the point at which Christ achieved victory over death and hell, the point at which we sing triumphant sounding songs. And then came the day when little boys would be outfitted in new miniature suits and and little girls in floral dresses and shiny white shoes.
But it was still Good Friday.
It was a little over a decade ago where this trend -- jumping ahead to Easter Sunday before the sun had set on Good Friday -- started to make me uncomfortable. What was so wrong with sitting with the truth of Christ's suffering and death for awhile? We may be living in and looking forward to the truth of the resurrection, but would it kill us for just one day to internalize what it meant for Christ to suffer, and to understand my role in it? There wasn't anything wrong necessarily with looking forward to Sunday, but what was the hurry?
What was so wrong with letting Friday be Friday?
My first Good Friday as a Catholic came about two years ago. As I sat in the pew during the Good Friday Mass, I uttered a brief and silent prayer to God: I wanted to feel the weight of that day, and I wanted to feel it like the disciples felt it.
Someone I love has died a shameful death.
I ran away from him, disowning him when I should have risen to his defense.
A perfect man has been wrongfully accused, offending every natural sense of justice.
He was there because of the things I had done.
No prayer of mine has ever been answered so quickly.
It wasn't long before tears were running down my cheeks, one after the other until they streamed down my face. I started to choke with the crying, wiping my face with the back of my hand, sniffling and reaching for the tissues in my purse.
We were all invited to come forward and venerate the cross, to kneel and touch him, to tell him we were sorry. When it came to be my turn, I touched the pierced feet, knelt, and wept. There was no guise of dignity left in how I cried. I simply didn't care. My grief was real.
My Savior was dead, and I had done it.
Good Friday, and my Jesus is dead and in the tomb.