It is Good Friday. The day of the Crucifixion. If you haven't seen the movie The Passion of Christ, we recommend it as a solemn preparation for the Good Friday Stations and Service. Here are eight bits of history and tradition about this most somber of days on the liturgical calendar.
- Good Friday is one of two days during the year that the Mass is not celebrated. The Easter Vigil, while taking place in the late evening of Holy Saturday, liturgically occurs on Sunday.
- The Extraordinary Form of the liturgy uses black vestments on this day while the Ordinary Form uses red. The focus in the Ordinary Form being the martyrdom and triumph of Christ instead of the death of Christ.
- The ceremony for venerating the cross on Good Friday first started in Jerusalem during the fourth century following the recovery of the True Cross by St. Helen. During the seventh century the practice spread to the rest of the Church.
- The three elevations of the cross have symbolic meanings. The first low elevation represents the fearful preaching of the apostles right after Christ's death. The second represents their preaching to the Jews and the third their preaching the whole world.
- In the Extraordinary Form, the priest removes his chasuble to lead the veneration of the Cross and traditionally removes his shoes before kissing the cross.
- Until sometime within the last 100 years, only the priest received Communion on Good Friday.
- For the Good Friday Communion Service in the Extraordinary Form, the priest changes into a violet chasuble and stole from the black that he wore for the first two parts of the liturgy.
- The chant sung during the veneration of the cross contains an Eastern prayer called the Trisagion which has been used in Constantinople since the fifth century.