For a lapsed Catholic, I spend a lot of time thinking about religion. Even more so as I have been asked to stand as a Godparent for my grandson. Now that is awkward, as my belief in God is constrained.
I believe God is the manifestation of our need for God and has been substantiated by many accounts and in many forms. However, I have no faith in the reliability of man’s accounts of God.
Quite rightly for Christians, Good Friday is a sombre day for repentance and spiritual contemplation. In Catholic churches, icons are covered, the altar is bare and bells are replaced by wooden clappers. It is probably the most meaningful of Christian holy days as it has not been commercialised, other than supermarkets touting fish as good for Lent!
The ritual of Stations of the Cross is observed on Good Friday, visualising the indignities and agonies Jesus suffered before and during his crucifixion. It engenders powerful feelings which are probably confirmatory of beliefs.
Rituals reinforce beliefs and involvement demonstrates piety. The Way of the Cross engenders religious ecstasies in some cultures, where devotees flay themselves and carry heavy crosses wearing thorny crowns.
The last days of Jesus provided most of the symbols, rituals and beliefs that base the Christian faith, enshrining sacrifice and matyrdom and ensuring that Jesus is remembered whenever Christians eat and drink.
Notwithstanding the earthquake and the tearing of the veil in the Temple when he died and the mysterious disappearance of his body, Jesus’ divinity was rejected by most of the Jews.
Nevertheless, the testimony of his disciples and Jesus’ return founded a religion which has the greatest following in the world.
I remain unconvinced but cannot deny that I am aware of the shadow of the cross.