By Father John Fields
Today is Good Friday in churches that calculate the date of Easter based upon the Gregorian calendar.
March 25, exactly nine months before Christmas, is also the feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary she would have a son. The Knights of Columbus observe the feast of the Annunciation as the “International Day of the Unborn Child,” since this feast liturgically and scripturally demonstrates that life begins at conception.
Because these two important observances will occur on the same day this year, depending on the liturgical tradition, accommodations are made in the date and manner of celebration of the feast of the Annunciation and the Good Friday observances.
This year in the Latin church, the feast of the Annunciation is transferred to the first available day after the Paschal celebration. Therefore, this year, the solemnity of the Annunciation will be observed April 4, the first available day, the Monday after the second Paschal Sunday. Christmas will still be celebrated Dec. 25, although will not be a full nine months after the Feast of the Annunciation.
The importance of the feast of the Annunciation has such importance in the Byzantine tradition that this feast is always celebrated March 25, even if it falls on Good Friday or Holy Saturday. This tradition dates back to the third century.
This year, since the Annunciation falls on Good Friday, churches of the Byzantine tradition will also celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Good Friday, the only exception to the rule that the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated on Good Friday. Church fathers stress that the importance of Mary’s “yes” to the angel Gabriel is so important that, without it, there would not have been a Good Friday.
– – –
Father Fields is director of communications for the Ukrainian Archdiocese of Philadelphia.