Good Friday: a silence brimming over with love

On the morning of Friday 15 April, in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, on Calvary, in the very place of the crucifixion of Jesus, the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, His Beatitude Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, presided the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion.

The Archbishop, the deacons and the ministers wear vestments in red, those of the Mass, even although in no Latin church is the Holy Mass celebrated on this day, according to a very ancient tradition: gazes are fixed on the Calvary, where Jesus consumed his cruel Sacrifice on the Cross, offering Himself to the Father for our salvation.

The relic of the Holy Cross, found here during the building of the Constantinian Basilica, is placed on the altar.After devoutly listening to the song of the  Passion of the Lord according to John and after having elevated the great Universal prayer in imitation of Jesus, with his arms open on the Cross, in the act of embracing the whole universe, the Holy Cross was presented for veneration, with a rite that dates back to the 4th century.

Lastly, the Deacons went to the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre to take the Most Holy Sacrament, which had been placed it on the previous day and take it in a procession on to Golgotha. After the prayer of the Pater noster, the Eucharist was distributed to the many faithful present, who through the communion with the Lord’s Body, were nourished by the Mystery of the Cross, contemplated and adored.

The solemn Liturgy of Good Friday begins and end in silence: it is the astonished  silence in front of the death of  the Master and the Lord, it is the adoring and moved silence of the Church-Bride joined by the gift of love of the Lamb-Groom, it is the silence of faith, full of hope in waiting for the Resurrection.

In addition to the Solemn Liturgy of the Passion, the prayer of Good Friday in Jerusalem is also characterized by two pious exercises very dear to the local Christians: theVia Crucis.Led by the Custos of the Holy Land, on the route on the Via dolorosa in the alleyways of the Old City, in the morning, and the  “Funeral of Jesus” in the Basilica in the evening.In the semi-darkness and in the silence of the Basilica, in addition to the evangelical texts proclaimed in different languages, the sound of the blows of the hammer on the nails to remove the lifeless body of Jesus from the Cross can be heard. It is a muffled and moving sound which speaks of all the drama of the moment and, at the same time, of the fullness of love.

From the top of Golgotha, the Crucified body has been devoutly taken to the stone of the unction, where the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, has prepared it for burial, using the oil and perfumed substances, blessed in Bethany, on Holy Monday.

 

Mons. Vincenzo Peroni