The way I see it
HOLY WEEK is upon us, and we're entering into the Easter Triduum - with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday. The three days are given names which a bit archaic and unnecessary, but they have real meaning so maybe its no harm to look at them and understand what we're on about and why we use them.
Beginning with Maundy Thursday - the word ‘Maundy’ comes to us as an Anglo-French word, which is derived from the Latin word ‘ mandatum,’ which means “commandment.’
Nowadays we use the phrase Holy Thursday, and the focus of is on the Last Super. One of the most ancient Christian practices is to do what Jesus did the night before he died, and celebrate the Eucharist, including foot-washing as part of the evening's ceremony has become popular also, recounting the washing of feet by Jesus during the Last Super and highlighting the importance of service.
Moving on to Good Friday, the history of the ceremonies is ancient, dating at least to the 4th century. What often baffles people is why we call it ‘Good' Friday, and not bad' Friday. Considering the fact that Jesus was stripped of all human dignity: scourged, crowned with thorns, spat upon, made to carry a cross through the streets, actually nailed to the cross, and finally having to suffer the slow and painful death of crucifixion from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., why on earth do we call this good?
Good Friday is a term used only in the Englishspeaking world. In Latin-based languages the day is called Holy Friday. In Slavic languages it is called Great Friday, in Scandinavia it is called Long Friday, in German it is called Lamentation or Sorrowful Friday using an archaic word that means lamentation, ‘Karfreitag.”
We probably get Good Friday from Dutch. The Frisian dialect of Dutch is the Germanic language closest to English. In early middle ages, we probably called it Goede Vrijtag , which may have meant God's Friday, which sounds like and was soon said as ‘Good Friday'.
Aside from the language question, the reason that such a terrible Friday has been called ‘Good' Friday because it led to the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin and the celebration of Easter, the very pinnacle of Christian celebrations.
The good that has come about because of Jesus' death on the cross is the good that we celebrate on Good Friday. When man turned away from God through sin, the gates of heaven were closed, and evil entered the world. When Jesus dies and rises to new life, he opens the gates of heaven, and good conquers evil. The moment that Jesus achieved this was the moment that he died on the Friday, and therefore we call it Good Friday.
Black Saturday is the day between Jesus' death on Good Friday and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Simply put, black symbolises darkness and the absence of light. Jesus is the ‘Light of the World' and when he dies, the whole world goes into darkness. Black is also the colour of mourning, and while Jesus lies in the tomb, we mourn his death.
So there in a nutshell is the three days of the Easter Triduum, days full of meaning and importance to all Christians, but days also filled with Grace. May each of us be touched by these Grace-filled days. Happy Easter!