and all in the morning,
They crucified our Savior,
and our heavenly King.
And was not this
a woeful thing
And sweet Jesus,
we’ll call him by name.
From "the third hour" until "the sixth hour." From sext to none. From noon until three in the afternoon. Scripture tells us that our Lord was dying on the cross at this time, culminating in the words “Consummatum Est” (“It is finished”).
When we were kids, growing up in Ohio, we would either go to church for Stations of the Cross or some related devotion, or if we were at home, Mom would turn the radio off, and we were told to be quieter than usual. Thus did we mark the consummation of the ultimate act of sacrificial Love, that of the Bridegroom with His bride.
PHOTO: Gail Deibler Finke
Elsewhere in Cincinnati, a venerable custom of more than a century and a half still takes place on this day.
In December 1860, a Catholic church was completed on a bluff atop Mount Adams, overlooking the central city from the east, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Since the hill was too steep for a horse-and-buggy, there were a series of wooden steps built as well, leading from St Gregory Street near the river, all the way to the church entrance. The following spring saw the start of the War Between The States, and Immaculata Church became the site of devout Catholics praying the rosary for peace, while climbing the steps to its entrance.
Even today, the tradition continues, as every year on Good Friday (a day when it invariably rains), an estimated ten thousand pilgrims climb the 85 steps -- the wooden ones having since been replaced by concrete -- leading to the entrance. The procession begins at midnight, with the parish priest's blessing of the steps, and continues for twenty-four hours.
The Passionist Historical Archives elaborates on the legacy of “St Mary’s of the Steps”, as does the parish website.
Finally, our meditation for Good Friday is a "sand art" presentation of the road to Calvary, produced by Francis O'Donohue.
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For this year, today is also when the Feast of the Annunciation is usually celebrated. Tradition says that Our Lord actually died on this exact date, that of his conception by the Holy Spirit, thus his Incarnation went full circle. Saint Augustine wrote:
“He is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also he suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since.”
While the Church of the West transfers this commemoration to the first day after the Octave of Easter, that of Monday, the 4th of April, the Churches of the East retain the traditional date.