From ancient days the Church has always been very strict about the observance of our Good Friday solemnities. It is to start promptly at 3pm. The precision represents Christ's own sense of the fact that all was working strictly according to the divine plan. He described the moment of his passion as "my hour."
A friend of mine recounted once that he was at a Good Friday service, and at the conclusion of when the cross was to be venerated by the faithful, the priest brought the cross to those in wheelchairs at the back. His first instinct was that this seemed cruel: "had they not suffered enough, and now this priest was bringing the tree of suffering for them to embrace and kiss?" But he realised as he watched them venerate the symbol of our salvation that the cross was more than a symbol of suffering, it was and is a symbol of victory. What is true on Good Friday is true at every mass.
When we venerate the cross on Good Friday, and when we approach the altar to receive the Holy Communion, we do so not to take his suffering upon ourselves, but in order to lay our suffering upon him. S Isaac of Nineveh described this moment as if we took a drop of black ink and spilled it onto a white sheet of linen. Imagine instead of the linen turning black, the ink turned white. This is what happens when we come to Christ. Remember the woman with the 12 year haemorrhage in the Gospel. When she touched Christ, instead of making him unclean (which was what the law dictated), she herself was healed by the one she touched.
Hearkening back to S Isaac of Nineveh, in today's poem Vachel Lindsay describes the mass as "this white hour," and our participation in the mystery of Lord's Supper as a "marvellous hour." We come, hiding our faces, only to be forgiven, healed and called the children of God.
by Vachel Lindsay
No doubt to-morrow I will hide
My face from you, my King.
Let me rejoice this Sunday noon,
And kneel while grey priests sing.
It is not wisdom to forget.
But since it is my fate
Fill thou my soul with hidden wine
To make this white hour great.
My God, my God, this marvellous hour
I am your son I know.
Once in a thousand days your voice
Has laid temptation low.