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Good Friday: Old vs. ’55/62 Rite

GOOD FRIDAY originally had no liturgical service. No Mass was celebrated because, as Pope Innocent I explained in the 5th century, it was a day on which “the Apostles hid themselves for fear of the Jews.”

Eventually, however, the Church instituted a liturgical service for this day. In the traditional rite this consists of a Mass of the Catechumens, Solemn Orations, the Adoration of the Cross, and the Mass of the Presanctified.

During the Mass of the Presanctified, the priest brings the sacred Host back from the repository, and performs some of the rites of the Mass at the altar (including an elevation), after which he consumes the Host.

The Good Friday rite in the 1955 Renewed Order for Holy Week that Bugnini and company created is a Communion service. Here are some of the changes:

• The first part of the 1955 service is conducted from the sedilia, rather than from the altar (think Novus Ordo-style president’s chair). The celebrant does not read a scripture reading if a minister chants it.

• The celebrant, wearing a cope (rather than a chasuble) and flanked by the sacred ministers, chants the Solemn Orations from a book positioned directly in the center of the altar, an anomaly in the Roman Rite.

• In the 1955 service, the Solemn Orations underwent their first series of changes in the cause of ecumenism:

(1) The Prayer for Heretics and Schismatics has been renamed the Prayer for the Unity of Christians.

(2) Where the old rite directs that no genuflection be made in the prayer for the Jews, the new prayer directs that a genuflection be made. The omission of the genuflection in the old rite was considered “anti-Semitic.”

• The 1955 rite introduces a new option for the adoration of the Cross. The priest, standing on top step, holds cross aloft, and the people adore it in silence, rather than coming to the communion rail to kiss it. This option is also found in the Novus Ordo service.

• All the mystical ceremonies of the Mass of the Presanctified were abolished:

(1) There is no Solemn Procession from the repository with the Blessed Sacrament, accompanied by the triumphant singing of the hymn Vexilla Regis.

(2) The vestigial Offertory rite with its preparation of the chalice and incensations is gone, and the Elevation is abolished.

(3) The people recite the entire Pater Noster (Our Father) with the priest — a practice that utterly contradicts a liturgical tradition of the Roman Rite mentioned by St. Augustine.

(4) The simple communion rite from Roman Ritual is followed. All may receive Communion.

(5) Once again, a Responsorial Psalm may be sung during Communion.


Traditional Holy Week Ceremonies
St. Gertrude the Great Church, West Chester, Ohio

12:15 PM Mass of Presanctified, Pontifical Rite
6:30 PM Tenebrae


PS: We have been experiencing some technical glitches in these broadcasts. (The ghost of Bugnini?) We thank you for your patience as we try to resolve them.