FRIDAY, APRIL 6: Solemn—that word captures the tone of Western Christianity on Good Friday, the day Christians remember Jesus’s death on a Roman cross. In approximately 33 CE, Jesus was arrested while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Wikipedia has details.) He was sentenced to death under Roman imperial rule and was hung on a cross like thousands of others executed in that era. The Gospels say he was crucified between criminals and suffered for hours. Upon his death, followers of Jesus wrapped his body according to Jewish burial customs and placed him in a tomb.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS—AROUND THE WORLD
One of the contributions of St. Francis to global culture is the role of his Franciscans in developing the Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross. Before his death in 1226, Francis traveled widely including a courageous trip to the Holy Land where he dared to meet with Muslim leaders. For that reason, Franciscans have played a major role in Jerusalem for many centuries. They are credited with establishing what we know today as the Via Dolorsa in the old city of Jerusalem.
On Good Friday 2012, the world will see news reports on the crowds in Jerusalem’s streets—but far more Christians around the world will take part in Stations of the Cross in their own parishes. Many will walk through city streets where Stations have become a popular devotional in recent years. Want examples? A huge Stations procession in Sarasota now requires a police escort. Far to the north, there’s a big outdoor walk in Calgary. Check news reports in a major metropolitan area near you—and you’re likely to find a group hosting outdoor Stations.
In Rome, the Pope will deliver a Good Friday service at the Roman Colosseum; this year, his words will reflect the thoughts of an Italian couple that founded the New Families Movement. (CatholicNews has the story.) The couple wrote Pope Benedict XVI’s meditations for today’s services, which concern the joys and sufferings of families.