This Friday is the only day of the year on which no Mass is celebrated. On this day, we commemorate Our Lord’s Passion and Death on the Cross. St. Thomas Aquinas explains why we do not celebrate Mass on this day:
Therefore, on Good Friday, we commemorate the Lord’s Passion in a more solemn way than the Mass makes able. The sacrifice of Our Lord is more present to us in the Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday than it is even in the Mass which makes that Sacrifice mystically present. The beginning of this rite is in silence. After this, there are some lessons from Scripture culminating in the solemn chanting of the Passion according to St. John. Following this are the solemn intercessions, and then the central rite of the day: the Adoration of the Cross, during which the choir sings three chants. The Communion Rite follows after this, and then the faithful leave in silence.
The Adoration of the Cross - The Reproaches:
Ant. O my people, what have I done to thee? Or wherein have I afflicted thee? Answer me.
V. Because I led thee out of the land of Egypt, thou hast prepared a cross for thy Savior.
Ant. Holy is God! Holy is God! Holy and strong! Holy and strong! O holy and Immortal One, have mercy on us! O Holy and Immortal One, have mercy on us.
V. Because I led thee out through the desert forty years and fed thee with manna, and brought thee into a land exceedingly good, thou hast prepared a cross for thy Savior. Holy is God…
V. What more ought I to have done for thee, that I have not done? I planted thee, indeed, My most beautiful vineyard, and thou hast become exceedingly bitter to Me. For in my thirst, thou gavest Me vinegar to drink, and with a lance thou hast pierced the side of thy Savior. Holy is God…
V. For thy sake I scourged Egypt with its first-born son, and thou didst deliver Me up to be scourged. O My people…
V. I led thee out of Egypt having drowned Pharaoh in the Red Sea, and thou to the chief priests didst deliver Me. O My people…
V. I opened the sea before thee, and thou with a spear didst open My side. O My people…
V. I went before thee in a pillar of cloud, and thou didst lead Me to the judgement hall of Pilate. O My people…
V. I fed thee with manna in the desert, and thou didst beat Me with blows and scourges. O My people…
V. I gave thee the water of salvation from the rock to drink, and thou didst give Me gall and vinegar. O My people…
V. For thy sake I struck the kings of the Canaanites, and thou didst strike My head with a reed. O My people…
V. I gave thee a royal scepter, and thou didst give My head a crown of thorns. O My people…
V. I exalted thee with great strength, and thou didst hang Me on the gibbet of the Cross. O My people…
The Adoration of the Cross - Crucem Tuam
Ant. We adore Thy Cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify Thy holy Resurrection, for behold by the wood of the Cross, joy has come into the whole world.
V. May God have mercy on us and bless us; may He shine the light of His countenance upon us and have mercy on us.
The Adoration of the Cross - Crux Fidelis
Ant. Faithful Cross! above all other, One and only noble Tree! None in foliage, none in blossom, none in fruit thy peer may be:
Ant. Sweet the Wood, and sweet the Iron, sweet the weight which hangs on Thee.
Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle! With completed victory rife:
And above the Cross’s trophy tell the triumph of the strife:
How the world’s Redeemer conquered by the offering of His life. Faithful Cross…
God, his Maker, sorely grieving, That the firstmade Adam fell,
When he ate the fruit of sorrow, Whose reward was death and hell,
Noted then this Wood, the ruin of the ancient wood to quell. Sweet the Wood…
For this work of our salvation needs must have its order so,
And the manifold deceiver’s art by art would overthrow,
And from thence would bring the healing, Whence the insult of the foe. Faithful Cross…
Wherefore when the appointed fullness of the holy time was come,
He was sent who maketh all things from th’eternal Father’s home,
And proceeded, God Incarnate, Offspring of the Virgin’s womb. Sweet the Wood…
Weeps the Infant in the manger, That in Bethlehem’s stable stands:
And His Limbs the Virgin Mother doth compose in swaddling bands,
Meetly thus in linen folding of her God the feet and hands. Faithful Cross…
Thirty years among us dwelling, His appointed time fulfilled,
Born for this, He meets His Passion, For that this He freely willed:
On the Cross the Lamb is lifted, Where His life-blood shall be spilled. Sweet the Wood…
He endured the nails, the spitting, Vinegar, and spear, and reed;
From that holy Body broken blood and water forth proceed:
Earth, and sats, and sky, and ocean, By that flood from stain are freed. Faithful Cross…
Bend thy boughs, O Tree of glory! Thy relaxing sinews bend;
For awhile the ancient rigor, That thy birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heavenly beauty on thy bosom gently tend! Sweet the Wood…
Thou alone wast counted worthy this world’s ransom to uphold;
For a shipwrecked race preparing harbor, like the Ark of old;
With the Sacred Blood anointed from the smitten Lamb that rolled. Faithful Cross…
To the Trinity be glory everlasting, as is meet:
Equal to the Father, equal to the Son, and Paraclete:
Trinal Unity, Whose praises all created things repeat. Amen.
The Communion - Antiphon 1:
Ant. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee, because by Thy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
The Communion - Antiphon 2
Ant. Through a tree we were enslaved, and through the holy Cross have we been set free: the fruit of a tree led us astray, the Son of God bought us back.
The Communion - Antiphon 3:
Ant. Savior of the world, do Thou save us; do Thou, who through Thy Cross and Blood didst redeem us, do Thou help us, our God, we beseech Thee.
The Communion - Psalm 21
My God, my God, look upon me: why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.
O my God, I shall cry by day and Thou wilt not hear: and by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly in me.
But Thou dwellest in the holy place, the praise of Israel.
In Thee our fathers have hoped: they have hoped, and Thou hast delivered them.
They cried to Thee and they were saved: they trusted in Thee and were not confounded.
But I am a worm and no man: a reproach of men, and the outcast of the people.
All they that saw me have laughed me to scorn: they have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head.
He hoped in the Lord, let Him deliver Him: let Him save him, seeing that he delights in him.
For Thou art He that hast drawn me out of the womb: my hope from the breasts of my mother. I was cast upon Thee from the womb.
From my mother’s womb thou art my God: depart not from me. For tribulation is very near; for there is none to help me.
Many calves have surrounded me: fat bulls have besieged me.
They have opened their mouths against me, as a lion ravening and roaring.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are scattered.
My heart is become like wax melting in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue hath cleaved to my jaws: and Thou hast brought me down into the dust of death.
For many dogs have compassed me: the council of the malignant hath besieged me.
They have dug my hands and feet. They have numbered all my bones.
And they have looked and stared upon me. They parted my garments amongst them: and upon my vesture they cast lots.
But Thou, O Lord, remove not Thy help to a distance from me: look towards my defence.
Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword: my only one from the hand of the dog.
Save me from the lion’s mouth: and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns.
I will declare Thy Name unto my brethren: in the midst of the church will I praise Thee.
Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him: all ye seed of Jacob, glorify Him. Let all the seed of Israel fear Him.
Because He hath not slighted nor despised the supplication of the poor man. Neither hath He turned away His face from me: and when I cried to Him he heard me.
With Thee is my praise in the great church: I will pay my vows in the sight of them that fear Him.
The poor shall eat and be filled, and they shall praise the Lord that seek Him: their hearts shall live forever and ever.
All the ends of the earth shall remember, and shall be converted to the Lord.
And all the kindreds of the Gentiles shall adore in His sight.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and He shall have dominion over the nations.
All the fat ones of the earth have eaten and have adored: all they that go down to the earth shall bow before Him.
And to Him my soul shall live: and my seed shall serve Him.
There shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come: and the heavens shall show forth His justice to a people that shall be born, which the Lord hath made.