Today we fasted by just eating bread and water all day. The beginning of the day was quiet with Tom working and me cleaning the house. The Good Friday service started at 6pm. The Confirmation class acted out the Passion for us (complete with fake blood which I believe was motor oil) and we adored the cross (with the crucified Jesus and everyone kissed Jesus). I liked it this way, I mean the whole importance of the cross is because JESUS was on it. The cross alone didn’t do anything. One interesting detail of the Triduum so far is that there are collection baskets everywhere. Last night at adoration there was a Sister holding a basket so everyone coming for adoration to donate on their way in. Today by every crucifix there was a altar boy holding a collection basket so everyone came up to adore the cross and then dropped their money in. Then once we returned to the church after the Stations of the Cross there were also altar boys with the baskets. The reason for this is that, like we have “Christmas and Easter Catholics” in the U.S., here they have “Good Friday Catholics.” People only come to mass for Good Friday and so that’s a prime time for collecting money. We saw so many families tonight that I’ve never seen at mass before (some of their kids I work with at the Guarderia so I would have noticed). Anyway you have to love them for even coming at all though. Before communion the Sister made an announcement that everyone was welcome to receive who had had their First Communion and who had CONFESSED. I’m sure that was aimed at those people that don’t come to mass. Confession actually is a really big thing here during Holy Week. At the other church in town the Priests have been hearing confession all week 8am-noon and Holy Thursday we had a priest in our chapel hearing confessions all day long with only breaks for meals. Apparently the line at the parish churches on Good Friday is endless as well. This is good to see since we’ve heard through the “The Break with Fr. Roderick” podcast that we listen to that in many places in Europe, Reconciliation almost doesn’t exist anymore.
Back to the service though, after communion we start the procession for the Stations of the Cross. First there’s our fourteen altar servers (all male). This is a special youth group that serve at every mass throughout the year but they only admit males. I think the Priests use it for recruitment. Then goes the flat bed truck where more youth act out every station. Then go a coffin with a dead Jesus in it and a crying Mary statue dressed in black, each carried by four people. Obviously four men had to carry Jesus and four women carried Mary because that’s how the culture is. This is followed by a band of trumpets, trombones and drums. Then the Sisters in their truck with the loud speaker, then all the people followed by a second car with a loud speaker. We walked through the streets praying the rosary, singing songs and stopping at different peoples’ houses where they had set up tables with flowers, statues, candles, etc. one for each station. We have done this same thing every Friday during Lent but usually mass starts at 7:00 and we’re done with our walking Stations by 8:30. Tonight however we start the walk at 7:30 and don’t return to the church until 9:30pm which got us back to our house right before 10pm. It was a marathon. One of the neat things about walking around slowly at night is it gives me a good chance to look into peoples’ lit-up houses and get a better idea about how people live here. Obviously I’m also reflecting on the mysteries, but it helps the time go by. Tonight when we returned to the church they carried the dead Jesus in and put him in a little cave they had built in one corner of the church. Then people went up and said prayers and kissed the cave and kissed Mary. Sorry I keep forgetting my camera so there are no pictures but I will try to remember it on Easter morning. For now, good night.