19 April 2014

Why Good Friday should be a holiday

Sub Tuum

Good Friday used to be a day off. In some places, it still is. Some business still close for Good Friday. For the most part, though, America has moved to a paradigm in which it is just business as usual on that day. However, Christmas is a national holiday. Labor is celebrated with a day off. The troops are remembered on Memorial Day. Presidents of the Republic are remembered on President's Day. The day of the Republic's declaration of independence is even celebrated. Even one Sunday is given over to football mania...Super Bowl Sunday. Yet, the day of the Passion and Death of Our Lord is glossed over. Non sequitur. 

I am tempted to say that this is mostly because American society has essentially dropped the idea of sacrifice and instead wants to focus only on the happy. The scores of self-help pseudo-churches and even much of the mainstream Protestant movement certainly testify to this. Yet, America celebrates the sacrifice of soldiers on Memorial Day. Then again, on Memorial Day I see more backyard barbecue than mourning of the military dead and celebration of their glorious achievements. 

I see scores of Easter bunnies, so American society still cares about Easter on one level or another. I have nothing at all against Easter bunnies. To me they are a fine symbol of renewal and rebirth in Christ and the promises of the Resurrection. However, there would be no Easter (and hence no Easter bunnies) without the Passion. There is no Easter without Good Friday! There are nation days of mourning declared for many people, and even foreign persons who were considered terrorists. Why not Our Lord, who truly came to save all mankind? Yes, Good Friday needs to be restored to its proper place as a day off. 

Essential services, at least some restaurants, and other such things helpful to keep the infrastructure functioning are certainly fine. Otherwise, businesses need to be closed out of respect. They need to be closed to allow their employees the ability to attend the liturgy and devotions of the day according to the Church's calendar and schedule. If they do not close, then employees ought to be let off to attend liturgy without penalty. It is not sufficient to tell employees that they can attend "evening services." Traditionally, Good Friday liturgy is in the morning or, with the 1955 alternatives, in the afternoon. It is not in the evening. The evening is for Tenebrae of Holy Saturday. It is simply unfair and not right that a business would tell an employee that they must conform their religious practices to the desires and whims of the business. Religion is above commerce. 

Also, imagine a workplace filled with workers who have just lost a loved one. They are not the most productive workers. How, then, can anyone think that the faithful in Christ would be the most productive people on Good Friday? Their hearts and mind are rightly turned towards the Cross! They ought to have the simple freedom, without penalty, to participate in the liturgy. It is a basic human right.