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The Holiday Hallmark Can't Handle
Catholic Exchange ^ | April 14, 2006 | David Rensberger

Posted on 04/14/2006 10:56:32 AM PDT by NYer

Every year on Good Friday, I notice a peculiar feeling. When I’m out and about, riding the bus or walking past a store, I feel a strange disconnect between myself and the world around me.

Outside, it’s an ordinary day. The streets are busy, people are buying and selling, there are families in the parks and planes in the air. It’s springtime in Atlanta, and already the earth’s beauty is beginning to be seen.

Inside, things are different. I feel a sense of loss, a sense of a great drama taking place. This is the day on which we commemorate the Crucifixion of Jesus. I cannot help thinking about it, at least from time to time. In the evening, my wife and I will go to church for a Tenebrae service, somber and sometimes even harsh. When it’s over, the worshipers will leave in silence, totally unlike any other service of the year.

My awareness of Good Friday makes the very ordinariness of the city and the suburbs seem bizarre, remote, almost unreal. I have my mind on profound and solemn things; to some extent I am even mourning with Jesus’ first disciples. The world around me takes no notice, utterly none. And that is as it should be.

Impossible to Adapt

Good Friday is the one Christian “holiday” that the wider culture, even in America, has not taken up. It is the one holy day whose Christian significance cannot be bleached out to leave a commercially viable residue. Christmas can be for children and families, for shopping, for feasting. Easter can be bunnies and baby chicks, the newness of spring and a whole lot of chocolate. Even a couple of days marked out to honor saints in some Christian traditions — Valentine, Patrick — have been pretty much entirely taken over by a culture of romance and hedonism, sex and shopping.

Not this day. There is nothing marketable about Good Friday. Suffering, sacrifice, injustice, betrayal — what’s to celebrate? What’s to shop for? Who could pig out on a day like that?

The absolute impossibility of adapting Good Friday to consumer culture is most evident in the fact that even the greeting-card industry, which seems capable of churning out more or less appropriate little notes for every conceivable religious event and life occasion, has nothing for today. Can you imagine it?

Because He bled and died,
We’re all choked up inside.
It’s not a lovely day,
But I still hope you’re okay.

Wishing you and yours a joyless, grave,
and yet oddly hopeful Good Friday.
There is simply no way for a culture devoted to lightweight enjoyment and superficial relationships to come to terms with Good Friday. It is, in a sense, the last bulwark of genuine Christian spirituality against the sea of pop religion that has overwhelmed the American churches. This is our day. Madison Avenue, Hollywood, and Nashville can’t take it away from us because they have no idea what to do with it.

Yet this day represents the central mystery in the religion that many want to claim as America’s own. Not only did God become a mortal man, Christianity maintains, but He went all the way through with it, “even unto death.” And not just any death: the Son of God died unjustly at the hands of a worldwide empire that used every means at its disposal to suppress insurgents. A death by torture, a death of shame, a death of horror.

Nor was it solely that, we claim, one more crucifixion among so many hundreds. We say God took on this death in order to give the world life. We say God knew suffering and tragedy so that we might never more feel that we suffer alone. We say God washed away our sins in the blood of Him Who was God made flesh.

An Enduring Sign

There is no greeting card, no trinket, no wrapping paper to celebrate that. Here grief and giving, loss and love, sorrow and salvation mingle in a way that calls forth the most penetrating efforts of human art and intellect to portray and understand. Here is a mystery that is profound beyond cheapening, beyond compromising. It is our day, beyond any culture’s ability to absorb and control.

Good Friday is an enduring sign of Christianity’s maladjustment to the world. Jesus died as the ultimate outsider to power, success, honor, and prosperity. Every time we try to make our religion somehow compatible with those values — that is to say, every day we live this human life — the Cross of Good Friday will stand, in its solemnity, its poverty, and its grief, as the final roadblock to our desire to be conformed.

Good Friday also keeps us mindful of the ultimately paradoxical nature of Christian faith. This day of betrayal and death and grief commemorates what we believe to be our source of life and joy. Day-to-day culture thrives on simple explanations, straightforward accounts. Jesus’ claim that “whoever loses his life will save it” (Mk 8:35) makes no sense in that culture, and Good Friday is a lasting rebuke to our desire to dumb down God’s ways to the level of our security and comfort.

Good Friday keeps me honest in the world. It’s a day when I can’t simply be an American consumer, when I can’t just walk down the street and be one of the oblivious crowd, busy but satisfied with my own goals and values. It points me toward another reality, a painful yet life-giving reality, the reality of God. It wakes me up. It reminds me that if I, like the Apostle Paul, am “always carrying Jesus’ dying around in my body” (2 Cor 4:10), then there must be something of Good Friday in every day.




TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; Religion & Culture; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; easter; goodfriday; passion; religion
David Rensberger is Professor of New Testament at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

1 posted on 04/14/2006 10:56:35 AM PDT by NYer
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...
This article sums up the feelings I have always had on Good Friday. It is day when tv and radio are all shut off except for EWTN or lenten music.

I was most privileged this morning to attend, for the first time, a Maronite liturgy entitled the Signing of the Chalice. It is so different from the other liturgies. Prayers normally chanted are spoken - there is no music. There is no Allelulia before the reading of the Gospel. Even the consecration is different in that the priest asks our heavenly Father to consecrate the Body and Blood. Only the priest takes communion. It is a very ancient liturgy. It culminates with a special blessing for those present who have witnessed it.

Good Friday services this evening, following our meatless community meal. A Blessed Easter to all!

2 posted on 04/14/2006 11:05:52 AM PDT by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: NYer

That sounds like a wonderful liturgy.


3 posted on 04/14/2006 11:08:00 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: NYer
This day of betrayal and death and grief commemorates what we believe to be our source of life and joy.

************

Good article. Thanks for the ping.

5 posted on 04/14/2006 11:17:59 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: Chomsky is God

Nothing like left-wing love and tolerance!


6 posted on 04/14/2006 11:18:31 AM PDT by GodBlessRonaldReagan (Count Petofi will not be denied!)
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To: Chomsky is God

Preserved your little sermon for posterity.


7 posted on 04/14/2006 11:19:47 AM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: Chomsky is God

Why so hateful????So what if people believe in something you don't...Liberals,left-wingers,feminists are always screaming for their right to believe the way they want...Hitler was a left-winger,Stalin was a left-winger,Mao was a left-winger..These men had the same belief that liberals have..So,if you want to say that Christians cause all the problems ,take another look at your heroes..Murdered millions of innocent people and you liberals don't seem to mind that....


8 posted on 04/14/2006 11:22:11 AM PDT by fishbabe
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To: Admin Moderator

When you care enough to zap the very least.


9 posted on 04/14/2006 11:22:21 AM PDT by Coop (Proud founding member of GCA - Gruntled Conservatives of America)
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To: Coop
When you care enough to zap the very least.

**************

LOL! There's a job for you at Hallmark. :)

10 posted on 04/14/2006 11:31:12 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: trisham

I think Hallmark would slap me with a lawsuit before extending a job offer! :-)


11 posted on 04/14/2006 11:32:26 AM PDT by Coop (Proud founding member of GCA - Gruntled Conservatives of America)
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To: Chomsky is God; Admin Moderator
Religion is indeed the opiate of the masses

Welcome to Free Republic! - where freedom of speech and religion both prevail.

12 posted on 04/14/2006 11:46:02 AM PDT by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: Salvation; RKBA Democrat; redhead; Kolokotronis; sandyeggo; pravknight; Convert from ECUSA
That sounds like a wonderful liturgy.

According to the patriarchal web site .....

"The Anaphora of the Apostles (also known as III Peter and by the Syriac word Sharrar), which the Maronite Church shares in common with the Church of Edessa, is the oldest Anaphora in the Catholic Church, and is still found in adapted form as the Anaphora of the Signing of the Chalice on Good Friday.

The Church of Antioch was the ancient See of Peter and developed its liturgy with influences from the Church of Jerusalem. The Maronite Anaphora of the Twelve Apostles represents the oldest tradition of the Church of Antioch. St. John Chrysostom took this Anaphora with him to Constantinople and became the basis of the Byzantine liturgy. As heir to the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Maronite Church represents the Antiochene liturgy in its fullness. Thus, the Maronite Church, in its prayer life, preserves the way of worship of the Apostles and their earliest disciples. "

pravknight - thought of you last night. It was one of our Melkite parishioners who was chosen to chant the gospel during the washing of the feet. Father complimented him on it. He did a good job :-)

13 posted on 04/14/2006 12:43:44 PM PDT by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: Chomsky is God

It really bothers you, doesn't it?

There is a reason that you are unable to show a calm, non-hysterical attitude towards Christianity. Afterall, if it is silly nonsense then what difference could it possibly make to you what people who believe it think or do? What is it about Christianity that makes people like you ( an admirer of Noam Chomsky?!) to become so unhinged?


14 posted on 04/14/2006 1:16:00 PM PDT by Bainbridge
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To: Bainbridge
For such people, politics and power are the opiates. A strong religious faith gives people the courage to stand up to tyrants and People's Commissars. If there is a life after death, then there is no ultimate control a State may have over people. And this is why men like Bonhoeffer and Solzhenitsyn have been persecuted by dictatorships; why China insists on a toothless, "patriotic" church, and quails in fear at groups like Falun Gong. If there is a God, then they can't express ultimate control.
15 posted on 04/14/2006 1:29:47 PM PDT by GAB-1955 (being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Kingdom of Heaven....)
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To: NYer

"Good Friday is the one Christian “holiday” that the wider culture, even in America, has not taken up..."

I'm kind of conflicted here. While I would have people realize Christ died so that they may live, I just can't see a downside to a holy day that can't be perverted into some consumer orgy.


16 posted on 04/14/2006 1:40:23 PM PDT by OpusatFR
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To: NYer
Thanks for the ping. It expresses my sentiments exactly.

I just returned from stations of the cross, otherwise I might be compelled to say some unkind words to the bozo upthread.

Instead I think I will spend some time in prayer and meditation before returning to services tonight.

17 posted on 04/14/2006 1:55:13 PM PDT by twin2
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To: NYer; All
Last Seven Words of Christ Are Full of "Spirit and Life"

Good Friday

Divine Mercy Novena Begins on Good Friday

The Three Crosses: The Good Thief or the Cross Accepted

The Three Crosses: The Bad Thief or the Cross Rejected

The Drawing of Christ on the Cross [Images]"

Online Exclusive: Good Friday: A good day for faith, family and food

Good Friday Reproaches

The Holiday Hallmark Can't Handle

18 posted on 04/14/2006 2:42:54 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

Services here have come and gone. I also spent 2 1/2 hours watching the service from Rome. Still, all I hear right now is my typing and nature.

It needs to become a federal holiday in the US and applied to the 25 or so states that give it no status at all.


19 posted on 04/14/2006 2:47:07 PM PDT by Heartofsong83
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To: NYer

I just emailed this essay to my very pagan young secretary Ann who came in today, said "Happy Good Friday" in a sort of hesitant voice and asked, what do you do on Good Friday anyway? I said, I go to Church, want to come? She said, "No" I'm sort of afraid of Church. I've known her since she was three and she had no religious experience at all in her up bringing. So in the service, when we prayed for those who do not believe, I listed Ann.


20 posted on 04/14/2006 2:55:11 PM PDT by Mercat
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To: Mercat

I avoid using the term "Happy", as there is nothing really happy about it.


21 posted on 04/14/2006 2:59:33 PM PDT by Heartofsong83
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To: NYer

Thank you for sharing. This sums up entirely how I feel on Good Friday. I cannot do the ordinary things without some guilt. My thoughts are on the Saviour all day and night.


22 posted on 04/14/2006 3:28:46 PM PDT by katieanna (Celebrate Holy Week!)
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To: Heartofsong83
I avoid using the term "Happy", as there is nothing really happy about it.

Agreed. I do the same on Memorial Day. The best I can come up with is wishing people a Reverent day.

23 posted on 04/14/2006 3:32:46 PM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (Ditch the 1967 Outer Space Treaty! I want my own space bar and grill)
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To: OpusatFR
"I just can't see a downside to a holy day that can't be perverted into some consumer orgy."

I think that's the point. No consumer orgy. Deo gratias.

24 posted on 04/14/2006 3:58:50 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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To: Mercat; Salvation
I've known her since she was three and she had no religious experience at all in her up bringing. So in the service, when we prayed for those who do not believe, I listed Ann.

Thank you so much for sharing the background on your secretary. She is not alone. USA Today printed an article this week (could not post it to the forum due to copyright infringement) in which they note that in ALL christian faiths, the number of Baptisms has slipped. Many people are no longer opting for Baptism. This is truly sad.

One of my coworkers was raised catholic. He married a catholic woman in a Catholic Church. They chose to have only one child and have never had her baptized. Like many catholics, this couple no longer practice their faith. It breaks my heart! I once approached him about their rationale and his response is one I have heard before. They feel it is their daughter's decision to choose her own faith when she grows up. That is precisely how my father's family raised him. He is now well into his 70s. Despite marrying a catholic woman and agreeing to raise me catholic, even attending Sunday Mass with us, he shys away from all religion.

At the conclusion of tonight's Good Friday liturgy, a young boy aged 5 kept asking everyone why Jesus would not come down from the cross. His face was so pained. The parish administrator explained to him that Jesus died for us and would return to life on Sunday. That seemed to put him at ease.

His mother is a very devout Maronite Catholic. She brings her 3 small children (the boy is the oldest!) to liturgy on Sundays and to the Stations of the Cross throughout Lent. What we witnessed tonight in this young child, was the budding of the seeds that have been planted since his Baptism. This same child, last year, was running up and down the aisles; yet tonight, as he watched the men carry the shroud bearing the body of Christ (a small Crucifix) around the church, everything he had absorbed over the past 5 years, began to blossom. In his juvenile maturity, he has begun to understand the rudiments of our Catholic faith and now 'hushes' his younger siblings when they act up. I embraced his mother and congratulated her on her steadfast approach of ensuring that her children would grow in the faith. The soil in which the seeds (of Baptism) have been planted, must be tilled and watered. Without a faith foundation, children grow into adults like your young secretary Ann.

I just emailed this essay to my very pagan young secretary Ann who came in today, said "Happy Good Friday" in a sort of hesitant voice and asked, what do you do on Good Friday anyway? I said, I go to Church, want to come?

Kudos on inviting her to come to Church! Don't give up! Keep praying for her and ask her patron saint, Ann, to guide and direct her home. No prayer goes unanswered! God bless you for the courage to extend this invitation to her and may our Lord richly reward and bless you and all your family.

25 posted on 04/14/2006 6:19:45 PM PDT by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: twin2

"I just returned from stations of the cross, otherwise I might be compelled to say some unkind words to the bozo upthread."

As you might guess from my FR handle, I get the opportunity to deal with that issue quite a bit.

The best thing to do is to wish them a blessed Easter and move on.



26 posted on 04/14/2006 6:43:02 PM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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To: NYer; GAB-1955
Missed the earlier troll.

It seems that today brings out a lot of odd feelings among people, Christian and none. Many non Christians can not grasp why we would hold up a God who came down and died a horrible insulting death for us. Some of my co workers are like that. Even among Christians, Good Friday is a day that many would like to forget. It is so easy to rush past Friday to get to Sunday. Many of the newer e-free type of of churches don't commemorate it at all, and view it as a horrible failure. A friend of mine from college asked me why I want to remember the Crucification at all.

But we need Good Friday. We need to realize that Christ had to die, had to die a horrible death that we can't even imagine, because of all of our personal sins. We, individually, are the ones that nailed Him to the cross.

Interesting that you brought up Bonhoeffer GAB. I was thinking about him today some, and all the other martyrs for Christ. In a real way, that is what being a Christian is. It isn't some sort of health and wealth deal, some sort of contract with God. It is the Cross. To be called to die for Christ as a confessing martyr is a great crown. We should all be ready to stand firm and make a confession of what we believe. Those in places like Afghanistan and China are doing that now, and someday soon we may be called to do so here.

Anyway, have a blessed Great Friday all. And remember to shout HE IS RISEN! on Sunday.
27 posted on 04/14/2006 8:23:31 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: redgolum

This is a great thread.

Good Friday is such a....hard? unusual? set apart? day for those of us who believe.

Me, I spend it thinking about the Passion - what Jesus was willing to do, and the evil that man was willing to do in return.

It is a day I unabashedly cry in grief for our hardness, and cry in thankful sadness for His mercy.

It is a day spent dwelling on death and salvation.

A good day because of what it accomplished. A horrid day because of what was done.

I adore thee, O Christ, and I bless thee,
for by thy holy cross, thou hast redeemed the world.

As St. Paul says: "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."


28 posted on 04/14/2006 8:40:07 PM PDT by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: NYer

What is odd is that Abraham looked forward to this day Moses did too. The angles in heaven were waiting for the celebration to occur the celebration that God paid the debt and humanity was ransomed back to God this should be a day of celebration not of despair.


Rev 13:8
8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
(KJV)


29 posted on 04/14/2006 8:54:58 PM PDT by John 6.66=Mark of the Beast?
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To: NYer
They feel it is their daughter's decision to choose her own faith when she grows up.

They absorbed the 60's mentality well. Don't judge people, be kind to people, and that's all you need. They don't seem to understand that the reason they have this high minded idea of fairness and equality is because of the religious ideas with which their parents were raised. They were either taught those concepts, or absorbed them from their parents.

Raising their children without any sort of moral grounding, which is usually provided by religious teachings is setting them loose like sheep among wolves. Their kids might find religion later in their lives, but they'll likely have some tough times before then because of choices they make in the absence of strong moral convictions.

30 posted on 04/16/2006 10:13:07 PM PDT by SuziQ
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