The Passion of Jesus Christ was solemnly celebrated by Bishop Richard J. Malone and a congregation at St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo, as people attended a special liturgy to mark Good Friday 2018 on March 30.
Friday's service was not a Mass in the traditional Catholic Church. As the Church recognizes the betrayal, flogging and death of Jesus Christ, Catholics are called to fast as they do on Ash Wednesday, but there is no celebration of the Eucharist, no ringing of church bells and the altar is laid bare, as Catholic observe a period of mourning.
At Friday's liturgy, the Holy Communion distributed Hosts pre-consecrated on Holy Thursday.
Those attending the liturgy joined together to read the Passion of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of John. For several minutes, the congregation read, recited and relived the crucifixion. Following the reading of the Passion, Bishop Malone explained the importance of the holy day in his homily.
"To be observe Good Friday seriously is heavy duty work," he said. Good Friday is unlike other important Christian holy days. "Today, there is no apparent reason for rejoicing. In a stripped sanctuary and stark liturgy, we come face to face with the central Christian symbol, a cross, instrument of suffering and death by execution. It's most important for us to be clear why we come here today and why we call this ugly Friday 'Good.'"
Bishop Malone talked about the very real suffering of Jesus, including the pounding of nails through his feet and hands to the cross, wearing a crown of thorns.
"Jesus suffered and died for us," the bishop said. "Because He loves us, and he did so in complete freedom. To love means to sacrifice. Parents know that. Spouses know that. We all know it. For no other reason, Jesus offered His life to the father in reparation of humanity's sin. Our sin. Jesus atoned for our flaws, and made satisfaction to the Father as a peace offering. All of it because of the depth of His love for you and me."
Following the bishop's homily, the liturgy then showed the cross before the bare altar. Bishop Malone and his co-celebrants venerated the cross, and following the liturgy, people were invited to participate in their own veneration.
Bishop Malone will celebrate the Easter Vigil at St. Joseph Cathedral beginning at 8 p.m. March 31.