How long is Good Friday Service - what happens?

Going through RCIA and going to receive my sacraments of initiation on Holy Saturday. I plan on attending the Good Friday service and am wondering what exactly takes place as I understand this isn’t a Mass, and how long it will last (as I’m considering if my three children under 6 will be able to last that long).


It’s not terribly long, but they do read the Passion.
After the Gospel, there is Veneration of the cross, where people get in line to either kiss the cross or show some other kind of reverence.
Then communion and leave in silence.
I’d say 40 mins.

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Ours is typically longer than that. More like 1 hour and 15 minutes or so. The reason is the long passion reading, and people filing up twice for communion and veneration of the cross. But the time will depend on the size of your congregation. This is a big one in a huge Cathedral.

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Ours is typically 90 minutes. Lots of silence. The others have covered the major aspects, but I always find the prayer petitions (which we chant - and they’re a bit lengthier by nature) to be a particularly fitting part of this service. We pray for practically everyone in a unique and special way.

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Ours is 2 hours. The most I have attended is an hour and a half.

The service starts with a prostration done by the priest, then a prayer is said
Readings as at Mass, with the Passion Narrative by St. John
The Solemn Intercessions. Last year, we had to kneel after the lector sang the intention (for Holy Church, the Pope etc.) and stood up as the Priest sang the prayers
The Adoration of the Cross - the priest ceremoniously unveils the cross and people come to venerate it by means of a genuflection and a kiss.
Holy Communion - the reposed Eucharist from Holy Thursday is brought to the altar. The Lord’s Prayer is said. No sign of peace. Communion proper. After communion, all depart in silence.

40 minutes??

Wow. We have a pretty on-the-ball priest, and I think the shortest I’ve ever seen would be an hour and fifteen minutes.

It’s quite an “active” service, as people are up for the veneration of the cross, there’s the reading of the Gospel, etc, so if your little ones handle a normal Sunday Mass they would probably tolerate it. It is a lovely service as well, and quite different from an ordinary Mass, so I recommend attending if you can. Bring along books or something to entertain your kids if you need to (we pass out Triduum activity books for the kids during Holy Week - if you can find something like that it would be fitting).

And welcome home! Saturday will be a wonderful experience for you, I’m sure!

Reading the replies here and I’m a little confused. I’ve never been to a Good Friday service (that may be about to change) but me veneration of the Cross is listed as a separate event some three hours later. Is this typical? Will we still have the veneration during the service?

No, you’re forgetting about the long time for the 10 Intercessory Prayers (Solemn Intercessions). Some churches have the deacon read the first part and the priest says the pray, while some chant it while kneeling and standing 10 times. For about 800 people at least 1 hour 15 min or longer.

I don’t know what the rubrics say is supposed to be done, but I have seen variations on how and when veneration of the cross takes place.

To the best of my knowledge, it is supposed to take place during the official liturgy of Good Friday. That doesn’t mean it cannot take place outside of the liturgy, so far as I know.

At a parish near me, they had a sort of whole congregation veneration during which we never left our pews. And then after the service, they placed the cross near the altar and people could stay in the church and venerate it if they wished in a more personal way – kneeling, kissing it, etc.

At my current parish, our veneration will take place during the liturgy of Good Friday, and at no other time.

Those Solemn Intercessions take a LONG time if done correctly: read the intercession, all kneel, silent prayer, all stand, prayer led by Father; repeat x10.

At most parishes I’ve attended, the Liturgy of Good Friday takes about the same amount of time as a typical Sunday mass in that parish. So for us, it’s about and hour and fifteen minutes.

I know for us, Good Friday is a no go except for our oldest. It’s about 90 minutes at our parish, and ends right at 3pm (the time of Jesus’s death.) At our house, that is pretty much exactly naptime.

I don’t know if that’s a consideration for your family, but I thought I’d point it out. Mass at night on Christmas and the Easter Vigil are fine, but church at naptime is inviting a lot of trouble for us.

Don’t confuse veneration of the cross with stations of the cross. Many parishes will have their Good Friday Service (which includes veneration) and stations later. They’re different.

Bring your kids along…they can join the veneration of the cross…

I know that back before the new rite were promulgated (early 1950’s) that during the Good Friday service the congregation would come up and kneel at the communion rail and the priest would move back and forth with a small crucifix for them to kiss similar to distributing communion. I have a very vague recollection that this and only this part was repeated later in the day (although perhaps I’m simply hallucinating after inhaling too much incense at this evening’s Holy Thursday liturgy.)

I wonder if something similar is what was mentioned above.

I seem to recall that method of adoration, maybe my first Good Friday at the age of 4 or so. Good Friday is my first memory of being in church.

I’ve lived long enough to have gone through that method as well as priest on his own holding the cross outside the sanctuary, crucifix on a table and altar servers wiping it, 3 crucifixes held by various people to make this part of the service go faster, and back to Father holding one crucifix, by himself as we had today.

My parish is so large that in lieu of filing up to venerate and kiss the Cross,a very large cross is passed overhead of the laity to touch as it is passed along.

Our service was two hours. I’ve been to ones that were three hours.

Some traditions have seven homilies and seven hymns, like the Anglicans often do (not all).

Some have a choral passion, as in the Passion according to St John, chorally arranged.

It’s duration is about two hours.

First, the priest enters and prostrates before the altar, then he reads the collect.

The liturgy of the word consists of a reading from the Old Testament, a Pslam, a reading from the New Testament, and the reading of the Passion, followed by a (probably brief) homily.

After that is the General Intercessions. This is where they pray for the whole state of Christ’s Church, as well as the Jews, those who don’t believe in Christ etc.

After that is the Veneration of the Cross. This is where the faithful are invited to adore the Cross by a genuflection, a kiss or some other appropriate gesture.

After that is communion.

And finally there is the post communion prayer, and a prayer over the people, which concludes the liturgy.

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Today was the first time I can recall where there was no prostration. Father knelt behind the altar for a minute or so then went to the chair. I know it’s an option, it’s just not one I remember being availed of before.

It was also the first time I ever saw the priest consume from the chalice on Good Friday. I can only deduce that there was Precious Blood left over last night which he reserved.

It was an odd Liturgy of Communion too. First we had the Sign of Peace, then the Agnus Dei, and finally we had a dismissal. Wrong section of the Roman Missal perhaps?

And from the minute Father left the sanctuary there was a cacophony of sound in the church. It’s as though nobody knows the meaning of “silence”. Sometimes I feel like going into full Sister Mary Elephant mode.

1: It is true that it is optional to prostrate, and instead kneel. I don’t think priests who are able-bodied should kneel when they can prostrate though.

2:WHAT!!!??!??!? There was Precious Blood left over??!!?!? That is not supposed to happen at all. Was it reserved in the Tabernacle at the Altar of Repose?

3: Yes. Definitely the wrong part of the Missal. It’s supposed to start at the Our Father and go from there. Today at our Liturgy, the Priest didn’t introduce the Sign of Peace, so we didn’t do it (which I kind of like actually.)

4: Sadly, the same happened at our Liturgy today as well. I had the exact same thought, that is “Doesn’t anybody know the meaning of ‘silence?’” It isn’t respectful to Our Lord at all, ESPECIALLY on Good Friday, when we commemorate his Passion. After Vatican II, it seems like this need to ‘lighten things up,’ and ‘not be so solemn and serious’ all of a sudden popped up. I really wish it didn’t.