Fridays during Lent are very special times of grace. Every Friday needs to be special in our lives because of the unbelievable sacrifice of that first "good Friday" on the hill outside of Jerusalem. From then on, Friday became a "sacred" day, and we are called to enter into the sacrifice of Christ in some way.
Lenten Fridays intensify the sacred character of the day by inviting us to pray more, to sacrifice to a greater extent, to reach out in love to others in a more profound way. Often during Lent we pray the Way of the Cross, the Stations, either personally or as a gathering of the Church. This pious practice, which took root when pilgrimages to the Holy Land and the sacred places were limited because of difficulties, allowed the local faithful to follow in the footsteps of Christ's passion and death. The Stations of the Cross found in our churches give us a visual experience of the last journey of Jesus. There are many forms of this devotion available. I remember as a child the version we used in grade school was very moving, in fact, very graphic. The artwork did not minimize the degree of suffering. I also remember in High School attending Stations at Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, PA and being moved with the solemnity of the experience. If you have not prayed the "way of the cross", I invite you to consider doing so. Check with your parish for availability.
Catholic Faithful during Lent are invited to abstain from eating meat or meat products on Fridays (more on that next Friday). Another tradition that ties in with Abstaining from meat on Fridays are the Fish Dinners so prevalent during Lent (that, too, is for another Friday's reflection).
As I led the prayers for the Stations last night, I found myself listening more than reading, being moved more than moving others. I found myself truly praying through these holy reflections.
As you have undoubtedly heard, Japan has suffered greatly these past few days. Please pray for the people touched by this terrible event.