Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Something on the early liturgical history of Good Friday from the Blessed Cardinal Schuster's Liber Sacramentorum, volume II:

Good Friday

Collecta at the Lateran. Station at the Holy Cross in Jerusalem

Christ had said, "Non capit prophetam perire extra Hierusalem";["It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." (Luke xiii; 33)] for this reason the station is held today in the basilica known as Sancta Hierusalem, to which the Pope formerly went barefoot, walking in procession from the Lateran. He swung, as he went , a censer filled with precious perfumes before the wood of he true cross, carried by a deacon, whilst the choir sang Psalm cxviii; Beati immaculati in via.

Originally, a a sign of deep mourning, this day was aliturgical, as were usually all the Fridays and Saturdays of the year in Rome. Thus, when towards the sixth century the rigour of the ancient rule was somewhat relaxed and the Friday stations of Lent were instituted, the Popes still continued for many centuries the ancient Roman usage, which excluded even the Mass of the Presanctified on this day. . . .

The Adoration of the True Cross on Good Friday was taken, as we have already said, from the Liturgy of Jerusalem, where it was already in use towards the end of the fourth century. Indeed, for a long time, in the West also, this adoration formed almost the most important and characteristic part of the ceremony, the central point, as it were, of the whole Liturgy of the Parasceve. Ecce lignum crucis: this is the beginning of the parousia of the divine judge, and at the sight of the triumphal banner of redemption, whilst the Church prostrates herself low in adoration, the powers of hell flee away terror-stricken into the abyss.

At Rome in the Middle Ages the papal reliquary containing the true cross was sprinkled with perfumes, indicating thereby the sweetness of the grace which flows from the sacred wood, and the inner unction and the spiritual balm which the Lord pours into the hearts of those who carry the cross for love of him..

According to the Ordines Romani of the eighth century, today's ceremony took place partly in the Sessorian Basilica and partly in the Lateran. Towards two o'clock in the afternoon the Pope and the palatine clergy moved in procession barefoot from the Lateran to the stational basilica, where the Adoration of the Cross took place, followed by the reading of the Passion according to St John, and the Great Litany for the various ecclesiastical orders and for the necessities of the Church. The procession then returned to the Lateran, singing as they walked the psalm Beati immaculati in via. On this day of sadness neither the Pope nor the deacons received Holy Communion, but the people were free to do so either at the Lateran, where one of the suburbicarian bishops celebrated, or at any of the titular churches in the city.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, there will be a celebration of the traditional rites according to the 1962 Missal at 3:00 p.m. at St John Vianney Chapel in Daniel Murphy High School, 229 Detroit St., Los Angeles CA. Take the Santa Monica Freeway from either direction and exit at La Brea. Head north to 3d Street and turn left. Detroit is the first street you come to. Turn right and you'll be in front of the chapel almost immediately. There is a parking lot which is easily accessed from the street behind the High School.

And hurry. You haven't got much time, what with the rush hour traffic.