Holy Friday, commonly and almost universally called Good Friday, is the day the Church remembers the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
The solemn service of the day is unique. The color of the day is Black and there is a serious and mournful tone to the entire liturgy.
The Liturgy of the day has several components. One is the chanting of the ancient collects (formal prayers) that remember our sins and iniquities before God. These are ancient prayers that have been a part of the Good Friday liturgy for many centuries. There is also a good bit of ‘liturgical gymnastics’ during these collects as we stand at points and then during each and every collect are bidden to ‘bend the knee,’ so we stand and kneel many times, if you are not able to do so, you are welcomed to remain kneeling for the entirety of the collects.
For the Gospel, the Passion narrative is chanted from Saint John’s Gospel and will be led by the men’s schola. The Gospel chanted by several of the men’s schola makes for a very emotional and though provoking event. In many ways, the Gospel comes alive as it is acted out in chant with the different characters.
After the Passion Gospel, a crucifix is carried out by the priest and placed in front of the people. After placing the crucifix on its stand, the priest kneels in front of the Crucifix three times, one for each time Our Lord was mocked; then he will kiss the feet of the corpus and spend a few minutes in devotion.
The priest completing his veneration, the faithful are invited and encouraged to come forward and do likewise. Some will kneel or genuflect three times on the way to the cross, and others will walk straight up. Some will kiss the cross, while others may spend a brief moment standing before the cross. There is no right or wrong way to venerate the cross…people may do what they feel comfortable with.
The point is to spend a moment in reflection and devotion in front of the symbol of our Salvation, contemplating the love Jesus Christ has for the world.
During the veneration the choir will sing the Divine Reproaches, which remind us of all Our Lord has done for us, and our ingratitude towards Him as well. This can be disturbing for some, but it rings true through the ages and is important to hear on this day.
After the veneration of the cross, the altar party will go in procession to collect the reserve sacrament, and then those who wish can participate in the Mass of the Pre-sanctified. We will consume the Reserved Sacrament from Maundy Thursday. After a few more prayers, the faithful come forward to receive communion, The service then ends in silence as we await the glorious resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on the Great and Holy Vigil of Easter.