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Notice Anything?

The Isenheim Altarpiece (center) by Grunewald

The Isenheim Altarpiece by Grunewald

It’s Good Friday. So…notice anything different in the Church’s liturgy today? It was probably pretty somber, right? No covering on the altar, not a lot of singing, no consecration…weird, huh?

We are a liturgical people, and liturgy marks the Church’s year. We have prayers that are said at different times of the day and, every single day, there is a Mass being celebrated. Except on Good Friday. Mass is at the center of the Church–it is the heartbeat of the Church. There’s this nice steady rhythm all throughout the liturgical year with daily Mass and then, all of a sudden, the Church’s heart skips a beat on Good Friday when no Mass is celebrated. Why?

Christ has died. That’s what we remember in a special way on this day. Today, He was beaten, mocked, abused, and tortured. He was scorned and left to die. So today, as the Church remembers the Lord’s Passion, as she walks with Him along the road to Calvary and stands at the foot of the Cross as He breathes His last, her heart stops. It stops at the sight of her Lord being struck for the sins of her people. It stops at the sound of “Hail, King of the Jews!” and the sound of the whip tearing into her Master’s back. It stops as she sees her God fall beneath the weight of the Cross and the burden of sin that He carries with Him on His shoulders–all for love of her. She watches as her Lord gets up after falling on His way and looks straight at her, with unimaginable love and pain in His eyes.

Her heart stops.

And, with this sudden stop, the Church calls us to recognize what has happened here. She says to all of us, “Look, my children. Look at what is happening. Stop! Reflect on this.” Listen to the Church, listen to the liturgy. And stop.

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