I had the honor to serve with three other acolytes, our deacon and our priest tonight at the Good Friday mass. One of the other acolytes and I had the job of holding the crucifix while the sacred ministers, the other acolytes, the choir and the congregation came up and kissed the feet of the crucified Jesus. It was very moving to be right there as people showed their devotion through their kiss. Some people kissed the feet directly, others kissed the wood of the cross instead. Everyone was in their own private world as they approached the cross and prepared for that kiss. I saw many emotions move across people’s faces, and I felt privileged to be a witness to that very intimate moment.
Later, we all listened as one of the other acolytes hit a board with a wooden mallet 33 times, to signify the number of years that Jesus was alive. Hearing that stark sound after just listening to the account of Jesus’s crucifixion brought the scene clearly to mind. The pounding of nails into wood, nails driven through human hands and feet. The pain, the suffering, the horror of that place filled with the dying. No wonder Golgotha was known as “the place of the skull.”
Good Friday is only good because without it there is no Easter.
Tomorrow I will serve as a banner carrier and then chalice-bearer at Holy Communion for the Easter Vigil Mass. This is my favorite mass of the year because the church is lit only by candlelight for the first half of the service and then with the words, “Christ is risen!” all the lights go on and bells are rung all over the church. It is quite beautiful.
On Sunday, I will serve as subdeacon at the 10:30 am Easter mass. That will be quite a treat since several of my family members will be there.
But tonight is Good Friday and the joy has not yet arrived. For now, we remain in mourning. This is the darkness before the dawn.