|‘Good Friday Catholics’ – Mar 10|
By Vernon Khelawan
Remember the term “Good Friday Catholics”? It applied mainly to those Catholics in our country who only attended the Lenten retreats and Good Friday services. It was the be all and end all of their annual worship, except maybe for baptisms, weddings or funerals.
Since the term applied mainly to men, you were sure to see them in their black suits, either laundered or sunned, and their crisply starched white shirts participating in the Stations of the Cross under a broiling sun. A better example of Catholic culture and identity, as it applied to Trinidad and Tobago, you could not have seen.
Today, the Good Friday black suit is out. The attire is much less formal, but the prayerfulness and enthusiasm for the devotions have, to a large extent, remained intact.
And while the Good Friday Stations of the Cross have taken on a much higher profile in recent times, mainly because of the re-enactment of Christ’s journey to Calvary in various parishes, these are mostly done in the cool of early morning.
Throughout the history of the Church, the Stations of the Cross have been a most significant practice for the Lenten season. While Lenten observances mean different things to different people – self-denial, greater attention to prayer and meditation – the single most popular act of repentance has always been a fervent participation in the Stations of the Cross.
There was a time when every Friday evening in Lent hundreds would attend the “Stations” in their parish churches, mainly because it was recognised as a Catholic Lenten exercise that allowed one to appreciate more deeply the sufferings of Jesus Christ.
However, a school of thought which has persisted over time is that many people believe Lent is the opportunity to go overboard with things penitential because that means they will get closer to God. But our God is not of that ilk.
Sr Bridget Haase OSU made this abundantly clear when she wrote, “During the season of Lent, God is not asking the extraordinary or even what is beyond us. We are called to simply ‘repent and believe’ by seeking forgiveness of our sins, by remembering the cleansing waters of our baptism and by trusting that God will restore our spiritual health. So why not do it?”