The way I see it

Bray People - - NEWS - FR BRIAN WHELAN

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!

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