Good Friday

Today is the day when speech turns to silence for solace, to awe for attitude, to bewilderment for perspective, to mourning for sentiment and to lament for prayer. On this day, as the Victimae Paschali Laudes says it, “Death and Life fought bitterly.”

It’s a day when the sun darkens, the earth quakes and the angels, beholding the slaying of God by humanity, “tremble as they gaze.” Today sin finally carried out the exigencies of its malevolent logic: God must die if man is to finally and fully contravene His will.

Atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, though with a meaning other than that given by the gift of faith, gave fearless voice to the stark and ghastly truth of this day’s mystery:

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?

But as the Triduum is a whole 3-in-1, nihilism and despair do not prevail. Why? The God we have slain is an immortal abyss of mercy, and our unspeakable crime avails God of the opportunity to unleash not the raging fury of avenging justice but the quiet zephyr of reconciling love. O felix culpa!



This weekend my family and I have the privilege of keeping in our care a relic of the True Cross that a friend graciously shared with us. As I knelt on the floor in front of it last night, I just couldn’t wrap my head around its reality and significance. As I sit quietly present, I can hear in my head my wife singing this haunting text:

Ecce lignum crucis, in quo salus mundi pependit.
Venite adoremus.
Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the Savior of the world.
Come let us adore.

I feel I cannot sufficiently dispose my heart with worthy wonder and awe. The tiny splinters of that hallowed Christ-soaked wood, alone in all of inanimate creation in commanding of the very worship due to God, captivate my entire imagination. Those splinters are the foundation of the New Creation. Stat crux, the unshakable Cross.


I can think of no finer meditation today than an Orthodox antiphon for Holy Thursday night, Today is Suspended. Here I include both the text and a haunting chanting of that text:

Today is suspended upon the Tree, He who suspended the land upon waters.
Today is suspended upon the Tree, He who suspended the land upon waters.
Today is suspended upon the Tree, He who suspended the land upon waters.

A crown of thorns crowns Him, who is the King of the angels.
He is wrapped in the purple robe of mockery, who wraps the heavens with clouds.
He receives smitings, who freed Adam in the Jordan.
He is tranfixed with nails, Who is the Son of the Virgin.

We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection!

This entry was posted in Liturgy.

15 comments on “Good Friday

  1. […] It’s a day when the sun darkens, Go to the Source: Neal Obstat Theological Opining   […]

  2. Sherri Paris says:

    what an honor for you to be able to have a relic of the cross in your home….gives me shivers…I am in awe…..God bless your Good Friday!

  3. Thom Jordan says:


  4. Santi Molina says:

    and a blessed Triduum for the Neal family (and the Jordan family, but I’ll see them) and for the entire world!

  5. […] of us.  For the first reflection, a good friend and mentor has put into words so perfectly well here.  As for the second reflection, I offer you […]

  6. Mike Whiote says:

    “an immortal abyss of mercy…” poetry Tom. One of the few times I’ve read words that to do not fail the sense of Christ’s conquering love.

  7. gotdewy says:

    Thank you for sharing this great chant, Doc! I have added it to my Good Friday prayer and reflection that I’m doing with all my classes today.

  8. Truly today we cannot “do” only can we “be” in the reality of the horror yet magnificent wonder of this day. Peace!

  9. DismasDancing says:

    My God! My God! Why have we forsaken Thee?

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