Catherine Weltzer

World Religions

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Asena Acar

13 December 2017

Good
Friday

            Good
Friday is one of the most important holidays in Christianity, including
Catholicism. It is celebrated the Friday before Easter and marks the day that
Jesus was crucified. Because of Easter’s moving date, Good Friday is also
celebrated in different months and weeks of the year, though the months are
limited to March and April. Though the good in Good Friday is often questioned,
because how can Jesus’ death be a good thing, it is considered a good Friday
because when Jesus died, he redeemed the world from sin. This is why Good
Friday is one of the most important holidays in the Christian faith, along with
Easter and Christmas.

            The
origins of the holiday come from the bible which describes Jesus’ passion and
crucifixion. Good Friday traditions have no definitive starting point, but
rather most likely evolved along with the faith, this is especially true for
how Churches observe Good Friday because Christian and Catholic churches were
not present during the beginning of the faith. In the Catholic Church manty
things are done to celebrate Good Friday, for example

“The Church is stripped of its ornaments, the altar bare,
and with the door of the empty tabernacle standing open…No Mass is celebrated
on this day, but the service of Good Friday is called the Mass of the
Presanctified because Communion (in the species of bread) which had already
been consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the people.” (Catholic
Online)

The lack of
ornamentation is meant to reflect the humiliation that Jesus faced and the loss
of the Mass is meant to increase the sense of loss. Churches often also cover
all statues of icons in the church, including crucifixes, crosses, angels, and
statues of Mary and other saints. Another popular practice is a service called
the Stations of the Cross, where believers reflect on the suffering of Jesus
using 12 different stations, there are often Priest-led prayer services that
revolve around the Stations of the Cross.  The prayer services include passages from the
gospels that describe the suffering of Jesus and prayers created by the
apostles, or later scholars.  Other
Christina denominations also celebrate Good Friday, “To commemorate the Lord’s hours on the cross,
many Protestants hold their Good Friday services between noon and 3. They
reflect, in a series of readings and songs, on Christ’s seven last words.” (Armstrong) Good Friday is an
important holiday throughout all of Christianity.

The lack of celebration of Mass of Good Friday is one of the most
important practices of the holiday. Good Friday is the only day in the entire
year that Mass is not celebrated, The Easter Vigil, celebrated on Holy Saturday
makes this so. Mass is not celebrated because:

“‘The figure ceases on the advent of the reality. But
this sacrament is a figure and a representation of our Lord’s Passion, as
stated above. And therefore on the day on which our Lord’s Passion is recalled
as it was really accomplished, this sacrament is not consecrated.’… The Mass is
the representation of the Passion, but as the figure passes away before the
reality, so too the Church omits the celebration of Mass when she commemorates
the Passion as it really happened in time.” (Erlenbush)

There are some exceptions to the no Mass rule but
that is only in serious occasions. Such occurrences must be approved either by
the Bishop of the diocese the Mass would take place in, or by the Vatican. The
absence of Mass on Good Friday shows its significance to Christianity. 

            The celebration of Good Friday also includes certain
rituals that do not always apply to all individuals. One of the more prominent
practices for Catholics, is that of fasting and abstaining from certain things.
“For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the
norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a
person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that
together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat
are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.” (United States
Confernce of Catholic Bishops) This practice done
on Good Friday and Ash Wednesday. The practice of fasting must only be followed
by those in the age range, so children and elderly do not have to participate.
This is an example of how Good Friday is celebrated differently for those in
different age groups. During this holidays adults often spend the hours from
noon to 3pm in prayer and in reflection over their sins and Jesus’ sacrifice.
Children, however most likely do not have the capacity for this and may instead
pray or do small chores. This 3 hour prayer time may also not be possible for
every adult, especially those in non- Christian schools and workplaces, and for
those adults who cannot afford to take time off during this holiday. Those who
cannot dedicate as much time often instead spend a few moments in prayer at 3pm
to acknowledge Jesus’ suffering and death. Good Friday is often a time for
people to go to confession, which is when someone goes to a priest and
privately confesses their sins then the God or Jesus absolves them of their
sins through the priest. But this often not done by young children until they
are at an age where they are considered old enough to know right from wrong. The
celebrations of Good Friday tend to be quite similar but no always the exact
same throughout different age groups, and those in different social classes.  

The significance of Good Friday, as previously mentioned, is the
redemption of the world from sin. Christians believe that through Jesus’s
death, he has saved us from sin. Everyone sins, and only Jesus can save us from
sin, as Fairchild states: “Humans are sinful and
our sin separates us from God. The punishment for sin is eternal death. … Atonement
requires a perfect, spotless sacrifice, offered in just the right way.
Jesus was the one and only perfect God-man. His death provided the perfect
atoning sacrifice for sin. Only through him can our sins be forgiven.” (Fairchild) Jesus saves sinners
through his death on the cross. Without his ultimate sacrifice, no one would
enter into eternal life with God, which is Christians’ ultimate goal. The most
important part of Christianity is Jesus death and resurrection, which is why
Good Friday is one of the most important holidays.

Good Friday
is celebrated differently by the Eastern Orthodox Christians compared to other
Christian denominations, and there are often different names for Good Friday.
The Byzantine denomination calls Good Friday the Order of Holy and Saving
Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ or Great and Holy Friday. They often begin
celebrating Good Friday the night with the Matins of the Twelve Passion Gospels, during this passages are read from the
Gospels that describe the Last Supper, and Jesus’ passion, death, and burial.
The next day they gather to pray royal hours, a prayer service with readings
from both the New and the Old Testament. In the afternoon Jesus being taken
down from the cross in commemorated, and on Friday night a service revolves
around Jesus being laid in the tomb. Originally these celebration would have
taken place in a different part of the world compared to those earlier
discussed, but due to immigration, and conversion, they are celebrated all over
the world.

Good
Friday, with its importance to Christianity, helps illuminate many of Smart’s
dimension of religion for Christianity, including the ritual, social, and
experiential dimensions.  Good Friday
shows how important rituals are in Christianity. Most holidays have certain
rituals and practices associated with them, and Good Friday is no exception.
The rituals that occur on Good Friday include prayers and scripture readings,
therefore Good Friday rituals help highlight how important prayer and scripture
are to Christianity. Good Friday also helps to show how emotions play an
important role, from the perspective of the experiential dimension. Throughout
the day believers reflect on their sins and feel sorrow and guilt for what
they’ve done, these emotions are considered part of the experiential dimension.
Feeling remorse for what one has done is key in receiving forgiveness for one’s
sins, which is one of the most important aspects of Christianity. That is
having your sins forgiven by God through Jesus’ sacrifice on Good Friday. The
social dimension of Christianity is also shown during Good Friday, this can be
see when people gather at services such as the Stations of the Cross. This gathering
illuminates how important being with others who share the faith is. In
Christianity it is believed that one should not only pray by themselves, but
also pray with others who believe. On Good Friday this important belief is
shown.

            Good Friday is one of the most
important holiday in Christianity, Easter being the most important. It is
important because it is the day Jesus died in order to save the world and all
people from sin. There are many different ways Good Friday is celebrated and it
can differ throughout different denominations and age groups, but all
Christians acknowledge its importance to the faith. Good Friday helps explain
some of the most important aspects of Christianity including prayer and
remorse.

 

Bibliography

Armstrong, Chris. “The Goodness of Good
Friday.” August 2008. Christianity Today. Article. 13 December
2017.
Catholic Online. “Good Friday.” n.d. Catholic.org.
Article. 13 December 2017.
Erlenbush, Father Ryan. “Why there is no Mass
on Good Friday.” 2 April 2010. The New Theological Movement .
Document . 13 December 2017.
Fairchild, Mary. “What is Good Friday?” 17
August 2017. Thought Co. Document. 13 December 2017.
United States Confernce of Catholic Bishops.
“Fasting and Abstinence .” n.d. United States Confernce of
Catholic Bishops. Document . 13 December 2017.

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