On Holy Thursday night we celebrated the last Supper with our Lord, commemorating the institution of the Eucharist and the establishment of the priesthood. Through the night we waited and prayed with Him in the garden and saw Him arrested and brought to trial. Now on Good Friday we recall the death of our Savior.
In the afternoon of this day the Liturgy begins (or rather, takes up again where it left off on Thursday) in silence, as the priest prostrates himself (lies flat upon the floor) before the altar as a sign of reverence and humility in honor of Christ’s sacrifice. A cross or crucifix is brought forward for the faithful to reverence (with a kiss, a touch, or a bow).
Scripture readings include the story of the Passion from John’s Gospel. As the story of Jesus’ suffering and death are recounted, the faithful are given a part to play. When Pilate asks what ought to be done with Jesus, the man who claims to be King of the Jews, we cry out, “Crucify him!” We also are given the role of taunting and ridiculing Jesus on the Cross as the crowds did that day. This aspect of Good Friday is meant to emphasize that we are all guilty of dishonoring Jesus and we all cause Jesus to suffer by our sinfulness. We are the ones who bear the blame for His death.
There is no consecration of the Eucharist on Good Friday. If Communion is distributed, the previously consecrated host is taken from the altar of repose where it has been kept since the previous evening.
Afterward, all leave in silence…for again, the Liturgy does not truly end, but will continue the following evening.