April 22, 2011

Good Friday/Holy Saturday

We begin both of these solemn days with a special Vigil. In the dark a lone voice cries out lamenting the death of Jesus. Psalms are read solo in the dark. Lamentations are sung. We kneel before our choir desks at the beginning and end of the office. On Good Friday three sisters sang in parts a capella 'Where you there when they laid Him in the tomb'. Haunting. We fast on bread for breakfast and dinner and break the fast with a casserole and salad for supper. We do the same on Ash Wednesday; you don't feel it then but do today.

After Lauds we pray the Good Friday Psalter in the Chapter Room. It is sitting with the dead, reciting the penitential psalms. It is long and tiring but it is what you want to do and how you want to feel. We are silent and praying all day. At 3:00PM the Good Friday service begins with kneeling and in silence. The liturgy is full of reading, chanting and prostrating. The day ends with a simple Compline.

There is no special celebration on Holy Saturday. The office is prayed in a simplified form. There is no Eucharist; the Tabernacle doors are open, empty. We know what is coming and all day you feel a building excitement. We are getting ready. Compline is early. After Compline there is a scramble to get the sanctuary ready for the Easter Vigil. A strong guest will be enlisted to hang the cross back up. The candle stand and holy water font will be set in place, the flowers arranged around the Church. Some of us will hardly sleep from excitement....