Good Friday represents the groaning of the planet in agony. It is suffering writ large, manifested most vividly in the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ.

Before we can joyfully celebrate the Resurrection of Easter, we must relive with Jesus his own unique suffering, through the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, to his trial before the Sanhedrin, his interrogation by Pilate, then his torture, the painful trudge down what we now aptly call the Via Doloroso, and, finally, to Calvary and his death on the cross.

Christians around the world recall the events of this occasion every year on Good Friday. In normal times, it is, for us, the most solemn moment of the year. And these are not normal times.

This year, the covid-19 pandemic and its prolonged confinement fill this day with special poignancy. We have experienced a kind of planetary suffering in the last 12 months that is unique to almost every human alive today. The daily anxieties and painful experiences should also serve to awaken us to other forms of suffering. We touch on some of them in our solemn intercessions on Good Friday. To these, perhaps we can add the following:

Let us pray for the planet Earth, that God will soften our hearts and fill us with wisdom to change our ways. May the Spirit help us reduce over-consumption, push our elected officials to pursue climate-friendly policies to reduce airborne and water-borne pollution. May we learn to truly become good stewards of creation.

Let us pray for those who face the brunt of racism, that we may have compassionate hearts to recognize in all those who look and sound different from us the same human dignity inherent in who they are as beloved children of God.

Let us pray for all women who have faced discrimination, harassment and even violence in their lives merely because they are women. We pray that our societies can find a way to make equality for all regardless of their sex a regular part of how we function, from the family home to the highest corporate board rooms and political offices.

Let us pray for those who struggle with their sexual identity, that we learn to show them compassion and love. We pray that we open our homes, our churches, our businesses and the corridors of political power to ensure we do not needlessly set up obstacles to participation in our social structures.

Let us pray for the poor, especially the victims of an economy that increasingly serves a tiny percentage of humanity, while relegating an ever-growing number of people to the outer edges of life, forcing them into lives of desperation, illness and despair. Oh Lord, give us the courage to honestly address those barriers to full participation in the economic life of our society, even if it means having less for ourselves.

Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Joseph Sinasac is Publishing Director at Novalis. He has been involved with religious communications for more than 40 years as an author, journalist, editor and TV and radio commentator on all things Catholic. He continues to be excited by the commitment and passion of the Catholics he meets in his daily work.

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