This weekend I will comment on the second element of the Sacred Triduum, the Good Friday Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion and Death.
Records indicate that the service in the early Church consisted of readings, including the Passion of St. John, solemn prayers and the Veneration of the Cross. Around the year 800 Holy Communion was introduced, using hosts consecrated at the Holy Thursday Mass. Communion was eventually restricted to the celebrant. This ceremony came to be called the “Mass of the Pre-Sanctified.”
Fortunately, in 1955, Pope Pius XII restored Communion to the people. He also eliminated the term “Mass of the Pre-Sanctified,” so it would not be confused with an actual Mass.
During the years before the Second Vatican Council the Good Friday service was often supplemented by a devotion called the “Tre Ore” (Three Hours) in which the priest offered a short homily on each of the “Seven Last Words of Jesus.” These are:
- Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. Luke 23:34.
- Today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43
- Woman, behold your son. Behold your mother. John 19:26-27
- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. Matthew 27:46
- I thirst. John 19:28
- It is finished. John 19:30
- Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. Luke 23:46
The Tre Ore is no longer a part of the official Good Friday service, but may be celebrated at other times. Thus the Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion and Death now follows the Early Christian Model:
- Liturgy of the Word with St. John’s Passion
- Solemn Prayers
- Veneration of the Cross
- Holy Communion
I hope you will be able to attend this solemn and moving service.