Good Friday and the Great Vigil



Good evening, everyone,


As we conclude Good Friday and attend on the Great Vigil of Easter, we are squarely faced with questions–the first being, “Why are we here?” The answer is that we are here this night at the foot of the Cross to find out who Jesus really is. It is easy to have vague ideas about Him. It is far more difficult to face up to His reality, particularly as we turn to our Lord as he hangs on the Cross.

Our modern world does not put a premium on having the will to genuinely think on life. But, the Cross is a challenge to think, “What does it all mean?” It calls us to think, re-think and think yet again.

In life, people generally show their true colors in moments of great trial. The boaster reveals himself as a coward, and the quiet person as a hero. We can gauge character by observing it in the great crises of life. And Holy Week culminates in the great moment—the great crisis of all humanity.

If we lift our eyes to the Cross we can find the true Christ. We shall be able to decide whether the man from Galilee is unattractive, a very scorn of men, of no form or comeliness that any should desire Him, or whether He reveals all that we admire and love in full perfection. We shall be able to decide whether He is the one whom we must make our king.

The Cross itself is a symbol, as well as a fact-two shafts intersecting; the current of our natural desires (inclination) runs one way, but it is interrupted by a current of spiritual motions (sacrifice) running across it. Which will win?

Having faced the enormity of Good Friday, we must ask ourselves if we are big enough to follow where He leads, and how we can make ourselves worthy of Him who died so that we might live. At the foot of the Cross, as life ebbs from our Lord’s Body, we look up at Him, so amazing, so lonely, and we have to face whether our lives can ever go on in the same way as they have.

Isn’t this the kind of man we would be proud to follow? Could we ever be ashamed of fighting under the banner of so brave and gentle a King? In a month’s time or, perhaps, even by Easter Monday, will we have forgotten all about the Cross? Will we have slipped immediately back into the old ways that keep us from Him and which prevent us from rising up and truly following Him? Or will we be trying humbly and patiently to walk in His steps?

We face so many great questions this long night of Good Friday when Christ has been taken down from the Cross and laid in the tomb and the world lies waiting. At the core of all of our meditation should be the question–death or Eternal Life. If His majesty appeals at all to us, we must take up the Cross and follow. He will help at every turn, by His own example itself, and through the Church, the Sacraments and the Word-all are there to help along the way-His way. For a comfortable Christianity is contradiction in terms. The consolations of the Faith are meant for those who suffer and are willing to bear suffering. As long as we do all for Him and faithfully bear the Cross, we shall win. We will gain an incorruptible crown.


With Blessings of the Triduum,



Fr. Charles H. Nalls, SSM




For Good Friday and the Great Vigil of Easter, here are special devotions from A Procession of Passion Prayers by E. Milner-White.


+Pray for The Legacy of the Cross.

O CHRIST, Redeemer and lord, who by thy death didst bequeath to us so great a legacy as to inherit life: So charge, we pray thee, our mortality with thine immortal Spirit. that led by grace in the way we lose not glory in the end; where with the Father and the same Spirit thou livest and reignest, GOD for ever and ever. Amen.

+Pray upon The Agnus Dei.

MOST holy Lamb of God, thou Saviour of all mankind once and for ever; From the complete and all-sufficient sufferings of thy Passion, we beseech thee, let nothing ever be wanting; not the sufferings of thy mystical body, the Church; nor our own: by thy mercy, to whom only is due blessing and thanksgiving and honour and power, world without end. Amen.

+Pray and meditate upon The Washing of the Disciples’ Feet.

ALMIGHTY GOD who didst disclose the secret of precedence in thy kingdom, when hands that had fashioned the earth washed the disciples’ feet: Put away from us all pride of place and possession, that, serving our brethren in season out of season, we may be found worthy of that part in thy Son which can never be taken away: who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one GOD, world without end. Amen.

+Pray and meditate upon The Thirty Pieces of Silver.

O GOD, who for our sakes didst suffer thy Holy One to be sold for thirty pieces of silver: Make us so mindful of the great price wherewith thou hast bought us, even the precious blood of thy dear Son, that we may never, for the whole world, betray thy merciful great kindness; nor him who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one GOD, world without end. Amen.

+Pray and meditate upon The New Commandment.

GIVE us grace, O God our Father, to keep this day and always the new commandment and the great commandment and all the commandments, by loving thee with all our mind and soul and strength, and one another for thy sake in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

+Pray and meditate upon Not My Will, But Thy Will Be Done.

O CHRIST our Master and Lord, who in an agony, holy and terrible, didst choose the costliest following of the Father’s will: Set this thy law plainly within our hearts, that we may be content fearlessly to do it; for thy sake, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, GOD, world without end. Amen


This entry was posted in Liturgy, Theology on by .

About Fr. C.

I am an Anglo-catholic priest in the Anglican Catholic Church, former military chaplain, sometime ecclesiastical lawyer and occasional theologian. I serve the Church of the Epiphany in Amherst, Virginia, and have care of several theological institutes and the chapel of St. Hilda at Edgewood.

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