Wanted to pass along a few more resources to help with your observation of the mystery of these days.
Why Do Penance?
It’s also good to remember one of the big reasons – though certainly not the only reason – why we practice penance: penitential acts enables us to let go of attachments to this world, so that we can grab hold of heavenly stuff. Combined with prayer and almsgiving (doing good stuff for others), it’ll speed our growth in the spiritual life.
Good Friday is one of the mandatory days of fasting and abstinence. The minimum requirement is the same as Ash Wednesday, which is abstinence (no meat), and fasting (currently at most one normal meal, two small meals that together don’t add up to a normal meal). Anyhow those are the minimums, going beyond is always a good thing.
The Pope on the Easter Triduum
From this week’s general audience, in which Pope Benedict XVI primarily addressed visiting students, are these comments about these days. A few excerpts:
To be friends of Christ, and to give testimony of him wherever we are, demands, furthermore, the strength to go against the grain, remembering the words of the Lord: You are in the world but not of the world (cf. John 15:19). Do not be afraid, then, to be nonconformists when it is necessary;
We have reached the eve of the Easter triduum … They lead us to the nucleus of Christian faith: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These three days could be considered one single day.
We want to rekindle in ourselves the living memory of the suffering which our Lord endured for us and to joyously prepare ourselves
On Good Friday we remember the passion, crucifixion and death of Christ. On this day the Church does not celebrate mass, but the Christian community gathers to consider the mystery of sin and evil that oppress humanity. They revisit, in the light of the word of God, the sufferings of Christ that atone for this evil.
Holy Saturday is marked by a deep silence … Holy Saturday, a day of silence and prayer, prepares for the joy of the Easter Vigil, when the light of Christ dispels all darkness, and the saving power of his Paschal Mystery is communicated in the sacrament of Baptism.
Love Is stronger than hate, it has triumphed
The whole text may be read here.
Suggestions for Prayer
Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio has offered some very good suggestions for prayer starters for these days. These are great supplements to the liturgical celebrations and will help you go deeper.
Novena for Divine Mercy
Good Friday is also the first day of the Novena for Divine Mercy, which culminates in Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter Sunday). Novena simply means nine – this is a nine day series of prayers, in which the simple Chaplet of Divine Mercy is offered for a different intention.
The idea is to use the repetition, the rhythm to dive deeper into what is, at it’s core, an incomprehensible mystery – the depth and breadth of God’s mercy for us – and to become cooperators in that mystery.
It is fitting that the novena starts today, on Good Friday – the source of all mercy.
Check out the liturgies and the meditations on the Stations of the Cross today … even prayerfully watching The Passion of the Christ … all of these are portals into contemplation on mystery of these days.
Deep, deep waters, waters that are most definitely worth entering.