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Ely Cathedral


Good Friday

Good Friday (Holy Friday in other languages), the traditional English name for the day devoted to the contemplation of Jesus' suffering and death on the cross, at first seems paradoxical. Nevertheless, as the Collect in the Book of Common Prayer says, it is 'good' for mankind because 'through his death, he opened to us the gates of everlasting life.' This consoling thought is kept in mind throughout the sombre ceremonies of the day.

The Cross stands at the heart of the Good Friday Liturgy, which falls into four parts. The Ministry of the Word culminates in the singing of the Passion - a narration of the events which led to the crucifixion. The dramatic action of the Proclamation of the Cross offers an opportunity for silent reflection and prayer.

The Cross is carried not in imitation of Christ on the road to Golgotha but as a sign of victory, thus continuing the emphasis of the Johannine crucifixion narration (in which Christ's death is seen as his glorification). The Intercessions, which follow an ancient pattern dating back to the third and fourth centuries, are offered at the foot of the Cross.

'We proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.' (1 Cor 11.26)

In accordance with ancient tradition there is no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday; the Sacrament to be received is that consecrated at the Eucharist of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday.

Our worship begins and ends in silence. Silence forms a significant part of the simple and austere liturgy of Good Friday.
It is both an identification with Christ in his suffering and the appropriate response to the mystery of our salvation.