Good Friday

Friday 10 April 2009

Good Friday
1st Class, Black and Violet

Réspice, quæsumus, Dómine, super hanc famíliam tuam, pro qua Dóminus noster Jesus Christus non dubitávit mánibus tradi nocéntium, et crucis subíre torméntum : sed dicitur sub silentio : Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculórum : Amen.

Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the Cross. Here is added silently : Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end : Amen.


The Solemn Liturgical Action is celebrated in the afternoon, about 3.00pm. This comprises the Adoration of the Cross, and Holy Communion.

Extract from the General Decree restoring the Liturgy of Holy Week:

'Let the faithful be led to understand properly today’s special liturgical act, in which the Passion of our Lord is solemnly chanted: prayers offered for the needs of the whole Church and the human race: the Holy Cross, monument of our Redemption, is adored most devoutly by clergy and faithful, the whole family of Christ: finally, as for hundreds of years was the practice, all who wish and are duly prepared go forward to receive Communion, with this as their chief intention, that by devoutly receiving the Body of the lord (which He delivered this day for all men) they may enjoy richer fruits of that Redemption. Let the priests urge the faithful to make this sacred day one of loving recollection, neither should they forget the law of abstinence and fasting.'

The instruction given by Pope Pius XII stipulates that Good Friday's solemn liturgy take place after noon; the best time would be three o'clock, and on no account may it begin later than six o'clock. The same Pope revives the old practice of all receiving Communion this day as a necessary part of the liturgical function. This consists of four main divisions, each of which has its own historical interest, the whole forming a dramatic representation of the Sacred Passion.

I & II. The first two parts consists of reading from Scripture, and a prayer followed by St. John's story of the Passion, and concluded by a long series of prayers for various intentions. In this part we have preserved the form of the earliest Christian prayer meeting--a service with was derived from the Jewish Synagogue. To this service of Scriptural readings the celebration of the Eucharist was afterwards joined to form the one solemn act of worship now called the Mass. This Mass still preserves these distinct divisions: the first from the beginning to the Offertory, in which the Introit and Gloria are included; the second from the Offertory to the Communion. The first division is called the Mass of the Catechumens, (for they were not permitted to remain for the celebration of the Eucharist); the second, the Mass of the Faithful.

III. The third part consists of the unveiling and adoration of the Cross. This ceremony was originally connected with the relic of the true Cross, and had its origin in Jerusalem. A veiled crucifix is gradually exposed to view, and three times at the words Venite adoremus the faithful kneel in adoration to the Redeemer.

IV. The fourth part, the Communion of Priest and people, completes what used to be known as the Mass of the Presanctified. Today's liturgy clearly does not constitute a Mass, for there is no Consecration; all who communicate receive sacred particles consecrated at the Mass of the previous day. This form of "Mass" is familiar in the Greek rite.

The service opens with a Mass of the Catechumens in what is perhaps its oldest and simplest form. It has neither Introit, Gloria, nor Credo, but consists merely of two lessons, followed each by a Tract, also taken from the prophets. The Gospel is the story of the Passion according to St. John. This is followed by the most ancient form of intercession. The priest (formerly the deacon) makes a solemn appeal to the faithful, telling them for whom each Prayer is to be offered: for the Church, the Pope, the Bishops, priests, etc. the Jews, pagans, heretics, prisoners, etc. The Flectamus genua is said and all kneel down to pray until the subdeacon bids them to rise. Then the celebrant turns to God, Almighty and Eternal, and formulates the prayer in the name of all. This was the oldest form of the Collect or public prayer.

The adoration of the Cross is followed by a short Communion service. The ciborium containing the sacred hosts consecrated yesterday is brought in silence with the simplest of ceremonial from the Altar of Repose. Preparation for Communion is fittingly made by all standing to recite the Pater Noster in unison, and the Communion itself is followed at once by three prayers of thanksgiving. These end the day's solemn function.

Note: Friday Vespers are omitted, since the liturgical functions of the two days replace them, Compline is chanted in choir after the function.


(image: Christ on the Cross adored by St Dominic;
Tenebrae, Priestly Fraternity of St Peter)

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