PANAJI: Catholics all over Goa will observe a day of fast and abstinence on Friday. It is Good Friday and they will be commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Fr Raymond Antao a priest with the diocese says, "Good Friday is not a tragedy but a triumph in tragedy. It is rising in dying to ourselves and our ill behaviour. It is an occasion wherein the Catholic faithful get an opportunity to look back, die to oneself and rise anew." Missionary priest Fr Randal Baretto, sfx, agrees and says Good Friday helps him face the reality of sin in his life and fight it. Says Baretto, "It's like how could I sit tight and watch someone else die for me. I ask myself: Am I a man' and much more a Christian?" The church gives Catholics ample opportunities to the faithful to reflect on their lives during the period of Lent that begins with Ash Wednesday, lasts 40 days and ends with Easter. Good Friday is the high point of this period. Editor of Konkani weekly Vauraddeancho Ixtt Fr Feroz Fernandes says, "Good Friday is basically a reflection on the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ. Human beings find an inspiration for their mental and physical sufferings." On Good Friday, besides private sacrifices of fast and abstinence, there are community penitential services in churches at which the faithful can participate. The Way of the Cross is one service held in various churches, chapels and shrines. The main service, however, is held only in parish churches and begins in the late afternoon. The service has three parts: the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion. In the first part, readings from the Old and New Testament are taken and this is followed by the rendition of the passion of Jesus, taken from the Gospel of St John. In many churches this is sung by the priests. This is followed by a homily at which the theme is the sufferings of Christ. In the second part of the service the crucifix, which is kept covered is unveiled and the people come forward to venerate it. In the last part of the service, Holy Communion is distributed to the congregation. While this may end the Good Friday service in many parts of the world, in Goa there is more to come. After Holy Communion, a purple curtain that blocks from view the area behind the altar is drawn apart and the congregation gets a view of a life-size statue of Christ nailed to the cross. As the congregation watches, parishioners, some dressed in old Jewish costumes, climb ladders to the top of the cross and unfasten and lower the statue of Christ. The statue is then placed in a casket and the congregation moves from the church in an orderly procession. "We have inherited this practice from the Portuguese. Only churches in areas in India where there has been a Portuguese presence may have this procession," says Fr Francisco Caldeira, director of the Diocesan Centre for Social Communication Media. A solemn procession, accompanied by mournful hymns dealing with the crucifixion and death of Christ, wends its way through the streets. Members of the confraternity take up the casket on their shoulders, others shoulder a statue of Mother Mary and follow the people. After the procession returns to the church, there is another sermon , this one talks about Mary and of her standing alone at the foot of the cross watching her son breathe his last on it. The sermon is called Soledade (solitude) for the theme it deals with.