The beginning of the Good Friday service is a humble one. The presider and his assistants process to the Church, and prostrates in front of a bare altar.
As a liturgical act, the prostration is a rare and powerful one. In my experience, it is used only four times in the Church’s life, and in all four instances, it means the same exact thing. It is used when a person receives the habit of the Dominican Order, when a person professes their vows to the Dominican Order, when man is ordained (to the diaconate, presbyterate and episcopate), and most commonly, today.
In all four instances, the prostration symbolizes the same thing: self-denial. I lay my will at the foot of the altar in order to obey the will of the One Who Calls.
When you attend the Good Friday service, the prostration is not only for the presider and his assistants. By no means. The prostration is done in the name and person of the entire congregation. Through the instrumentality of the presider, the entire congregation prostrates. We are all invited to lay our lives at the foot of the altar in order to obey the will of the One Who Calls.
The question is if we have ever truly prostrated in front of the altar. Do we really die to self and live for Him? Do we dare the Anointed One to die for us and be born in our hearts, minds and soul? Do we throw our lives away and answer the One Who Calls?