PS 58-62: Good Friday

Jesus arms outstretchedRemember, you can check the full document on this site, among many on the internet. Let’s get deep into Part V, Good Friday, by looking at a chunk of five short sections:

58. On this day, when “Christ our passover was sacrificed”, (1 Cor 5:7) the Church meditates on the Passion of her Lord and Spouse, venerates the Cross, commemorates her origin from the side of Christ on the Cross, and intercedes for the salvation of the whole world.

A brief, but essentially complete explanation of Good Friday.

59. On this day, in accordance with ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Eucharist; Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful during the celebration of the Lord’s Passion alone, though it may be brought at any time of the day to the sick who cannot take part in the celebration. (Cf. Roman Missal, Good Friday, Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, 1, 3)

Are visits to the sick a pastoral priority in your parish? Whether you answer yes or no to this, I have noted a certain reticence about the Communion service portion of Good Friday. Some of my colleagues in liturgy question it.

60. Good Friday is a day of penance to be observed as of obligation in the whole Church, and indeed through abstinence and fasting. (Paul VI, Apost. Const. Paenitemini, 11, 2; AAS .18 (1966), 183; canon law 1251)

No meat, one large meal: most of us know this. How else do we perform penance as individuals and as faith communities? Are our meal practices enough? Or do Christians turn inward on Good Friday, ignoring the thieves and the sad people around us?

61. All celebration of the sacraments on this day is strictly prohibited, except for the Sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick. (Cf. Roman Missal, Good Friday, Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, 1. CCD, Declaratio ad “Missale Romanum”, in Notitiae 13 (1977), 602) Funerals are to be celebrated without singing, music, or the tolling of bells.

It is (at least) inaccurate to say Anointing and Penance (especially) are prohibited on Good Friday. More often, the expectation for the latter sacrament is on Saturday. I doubt Friday is ideal for anything other than form I, but that contributes little outward unity to the sense of solidarity in a faith community during these three days.

62. It is recommended that on this day the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer be celebrated with the participation of the people in the churches (cf. n. 40).

Morning prayer, as one of the two chief hours, certainly. The Office of Readings gives people the opportunity for significant Scriptural reflection. Over the years in parishes, Morning Prayer has been the priority. If a community observes the Way of the Cross (as mine does) my sense is that a morning celebration, the Way, and the Liturgy are probably quite adequate … unless one’s community is a monastery. And even then, is more better?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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