Good Friday is the day on which we commemorate the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary. This act brought salvation to all who believe. It is a part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday. It is the culmination of Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday, and it takes place two days before Easter Sunday
The Catholics treat Good Friday as a fast day, which is understood as having only one full meal, but smaller than a regular meal, and two collations (a smaller repast, two of which together do not equal one full meal) and on which the faithful abstain from eating meat. In countries where Good Friday is not a day of rest from work, the afternoon liturgical service is usually put off until a few hours after the recommended time of 3 p.m.
Ordinarily, there is no celebration of Mass between the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening and the Easter Vigil unless a special exemption is granted for rare solemn or grave occasions by the Vatican or the local bishop. The only sacraments celebrated during this time are Baptism (for those in danger of death), Penance, and Anointing of the Sick. While there is no celebration of the Eucharist, it is distributed to the faithful only in the Service of the Passion of the Lord, but can also be taken at any hour to the sick who are unable to attend this service. During this period crosses, candlesticks, and altar cloths are removed from the altar which remains completely bare. It is also customary to empty the holy water fonts in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil. Traditionally, no bells are rung on Good Friday or Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil.
The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord takes place in the afternoon, ideally at three o’clock, but for pastoral reasons a later hour may be chosen. The vestments used are red (more commonly) or black (more traditionally). Before 1970, vestments were black except for the Communion part of the rite when violet was used. Before 1955 black was used throughout.
The liturgy is also a part of the services. It consists of three parts: the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion.
The Liturgy of the Word, consists of the clergy and assisting ministers entering in complete silence, without any singing. They then silently make a full prostration,” signifying both the abasement of ‘earthly man,’ 23 and also the grief and sorrow of the Church.” Then follows the Collect prayer, and the reading or chanting of Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9, and the Passion account from the Gospel of John, traditionally divided between three deacons, yet often divided between the celebrant and more than one singer or reader. This part of the liturgy concludes with the orationes sollemnes, a series of prayers for the Church, the Pope, the clergy and laity of the Church, those preparing for baptism, the unity of Christians, the Jewish people, those who do not believe in Christ, those who do not believe in God, those in public office, those in special need. After each prayer intention, the deacon calls the faithful to kneel for a short period of private prayer; the celebrant then sums up the prayer intention with a Collect-style prayer.
The Veneration of the Cross, has a crucifix, not necessarily the one that is normally on or near the altar at other times, solemnly displayed to the congregation and then venerated by them, individually if possible and usually by kissing the wood of the cross, while hymns and the Improperia (“Reproaches”) with the Trisagion hymn are chanted.
In addition to the prescribed liturgical service, the Stations of the Cross are often prayed either in the church or outside, and a prayer service may be held from midday to 3.00 p.m., known as the Three Hours’ Agony.
In the Philippines, which is predominantly Roman Catholic, the day is commemorated with street processions, the Way of the Cross, the chanting of the Pasyon, and performances of the Senakulo, a Passion play. Church bells are not rung and Masses are not celebrated. Some devotees engage in self-flagellation and even have themselves crucified as expressions of penance despite health issues and strong disapproval from the Church.
After three o’clock in the afternoon (the time at which Jesus is traditionally believed to have died), the faithful venerate the cross in the local church and follow the procession of the Burial of Jesus. The image of the dead Christ is then laid in state to be venerated, and sometimes treated in accordance with local burial customs.