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Why Good Friday Is A Little Different This Year

praying of the steps
Tana Weingartner
People reverently "praying the steps" at Holy Cross-Immaculata Church in Mt. Adams in 2013.

Thousands of faithful are marking Good Friday by "praying the steps" at Holy Cross/Immaculata Church in Mt. Adams to mark the death of Jesus.

It's also the second and last time this century that Christ's conception - or the annunciation - and his death line up on the same calendar day, according to Father Raymond J. de Souza, editor of the Catholic magazine Convivium. De Souza wrote about how the two dates line up in a commentary in the National Catholic Register.

The occurrence isn't all that important according to Fr. Jeff Kemper at St. John the Baptist in Harrison. "It's not anything major, but it is an interesting point that we look back and see history offers us."

He says it is a fun fact that can give the faithful something to reflect upon "and maybe think about what we believe God has done for us in His son, Jesus Christ."

Why Is This Significant?

Fr. Kemper explains that Catholic doctrine holds that Christ lived a "perfect life" in the number of days adding up to complete years. Ancient theologians saw that as significant, though he says it is less so today. But in 2016 it sets up the concept of a "perfect year" where Christians would mark Jesus' death on the same day as his 'beginning' since Catholic teaching says life begins at conception.

The Feast Of The Annunciation

The Feast of the Annunciation is on March 25. However, in 2016 Good Friday also falls on March 25 because of the lunar cycle. Since the two cannot be celebrated on the same day, Good Friday takes precedence and the Feast of the Annunciation is moved to April 4, 2016.

A Different Good Friday Tradition

Later Friday evening, faith leaders from various protestant denominations will host a citywide "7 Words of Freedom" gathering at the Freedom Center. Now in its third year, the event is describe by organizers this way:

The multi-cultural, multi-denominational experience features seven dynamic faith leaders remembering Jesus’ Seven Last Words before his crucifixion and thought-provoking presentations of freedom luminaries as wells as dynamic music guests from all over Cincinnati.

You'll find details here.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.