Why is there no Mass on Good Friday?

One of the most interesting days in the liturgical calendar is Good Friday. It’s a day that honors the Passion and death of Jesus, and the Church abstains from offering a Mass.

Rather, the Church instructs the faithful to host a “Celebration of the Lord’s Passion,” which includes a special reading of the Gospel account, the veneration of the cross and the distribution of Holy Communion from the reserved Sacrament.

St. Thomas Aquinas offered an explanation as to why the Mass is not offered. He explained that, “The Mass ceases on the advent of its reality. But this sacrament is a figure and a representation of the Passion of Our Lord, as stated above. And therefore on the day on which the Passion of Our Lord is recalled as it was really accomplished, this sacrament is not consecrated.”

Thus, we remember the reality of the Passion of Jesus, without celebrating Mass which is the representative.

Furthermore, the absence of the consecration of the bread and wine highlight the sorrow of Good Friday.

As we omit the prayer of consecration, it deepens our sense of loss because, throughout the year Mass reminds us of the Lord’s triumph over death, the source of our joy and blessing.

The desolate quality of the rites of today (Good Friday) reminds us of the humiliation of Christ and suffering during his Passion.

Moreover, Good Friday is the anniversary of our Lord’s death. On such a day, when on Calvary the bloodstained throne of the cross stands out before the world, the Church, bowed down in adoration before Him who reigns from the Cross, and does not celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass.

Instead, the Church contents herself with receiving the sacred species consecrated yesterday (on a Holy Thursday).

Above all things, Good Friday is a day meant to be for mourning and sadness, also a day to feel the weight of our sins that were placed on the back of Jesus Christ.

The absence of a Mass highlights this feeling and prepares us better for the glories that await us on Easter.

It is indeed a strange day in the calendar of the Church, a day that is designed to prepare our hearts for what will come after.

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