Introduction to Good Friday:
- Date: The Friday before Easter Sunday; see When Is Good Friday? for the date of Good Friday this year.
- Type of Feast: Commemoration. (See Is Good Friday a Holy Day of Obligation? for more details.)
- Readings: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42 (full text here)
- Prayers: The Litany of Humility; Prayer Before a Crucifix; Divine Mercy Novena
- Other Names for the Feast: Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday
From the earliest days of Christianity, no Mass has been celebrated on Good Friday; instead, the Church celebrates a special liturgy in which the account of the Passion according to the Gospel of John is read, a series of intercessory prayers (prayers for special intentions) are offered, and the faithful venerate the Cross by coming forward and kissing it. The Good Friday liturgy concludes with the distribution of Holy Communion. Since there was no Mass, Hosts that were reserved from the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday are distributed instead.
The service is particularly solemn; the organ is not played, and all vestments are red or (in the Traditional Latin Mass) black.
Since the date of Good Friday is dependent on the date of Easter, it changes from year to year. (See When Is Easter? for more details.)
Fasting and Abstinence:
Good Friday is a day of strict fasting and abstinence. Catholics who are over the age of 18 and under the age of 60 are required to fast, which means that they can eat only one complete meal and two smaller ones during the day, with no food in between. Catholics who are over the age of 14 are required to refrain from eating any meat, or any food made with meat, on Good Friday. (For more details, see What Are the Rules for Fasting and Abstinence in the Catholic Church? and Can Catholics Eat Meat on Good Friday?)