The Solemn Afternoon Liturgy of Good Friday will be celebrated in the traditional Latin form at St. Stanislaus Church in New Haven at 12:00 Noon.
The Good Friday Liturgy is at once one of the most dramatic and austere services of the Church Year. It comprised of four parts: the lessons, solemn orations, adoration of the cross, and communion. The externals of this service are marked by both a solemnity and simplicity appropriate to the day. The altar is bare except for one cloth, the missal stand is not covered, the vestments are black for the first portions of the service and violet for the communion, and bells are not rung.
Most striking perhaps is the Adoration of the Cross in which the priest progressively unveils the cross and thrice chants, each time on a higher pitch, Ecce Lignum Crucis (Behold the Wood of the Cross). After the cross the unveiled, it is laid on a cushion and the clergy and servers venerate it by removing their shoes and making three double genuflections as they advance toward it before kissing it. Removing shoes is a common act of piety in the Coptic Rite (Catholic and Orthodox), and reminds us of when God told Moses to remove his sandals since where he was standing is holy ground (Exodus 3:5). During the Adoration of the Cross the “Reproaches” are sung by the choir.
Besides the Kyrie regularly sung at Mass, the Reproaches are the only other liturgical text in the Roman Rite in which Greek is used. The Trisagion is sung in both Greek and Latin and is another indication of how ancient certain elements of the Good Friday liturgy are. Other reminders of the antiquity of this rite are its simplicity with the use of one altar cloth and the rather abrupt beginning of the service with a lack of preparatory prayers.
Music for the service, sung by the Schola Cantorum of the St. Gregory Society, will include Tomás Luis de Victoria’s “Reproaches,” motets by Palestrina, Anerio, and Loyset Compère, and the proper Gregorian chants.
The Fourth Sunday in Lent will be celebrated in a Latin Solemn High Mass at St. Stanislaus Church in New Haven on March 31, at 2:00 pm. The celebrant will be the Rev. Peter Langevin, Chancellor of the Diocese of Norwich and parochial vicar of the Cathedral of St. Patrick, Norwich; the deacon will be the Rev. Richard Cipolla, Pastor emeritus of St. Mary’s Church, Norwalk; and the subdeacon will be Mr. William V. Riccio, Jr.
Following Mass there will be “coffee-and.”
Laetare Sunday marks the midpoint of the season of Lent in preparation for the great feast of Easter. On this day the Church takes “time out” from the penitential emphasis in the texts of the liturgy in Lent to encourage Christians with the reminder of the great reward of Christ’s redemptive presence in the world. The opening Introit at Mass “Laetare, Jerusalem” exhorts us as citizens of the New Jerusalem to rejoice as we enter the house of the Lord; the Epistle encourages us to rejoice in Christ as the true Moses who has released us from the bondage of the law and sin; and the Gospel, presenting the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes, reminds us to rejoice in the Eucharist, which is the figure of the heavenly banquet.
This spirit of rejoicing is reflected in the use of rose-colored vestments and the organ on this Sunday. Fortified by this liturgy filled with thought of Easter, let us go forward in the second half of Lent with courage and generosity in our penance, prayer and charitable works.
Music for the service performed by the Schola Cantorum of the St. Gregory Society, will include the English Renaissance master William Byrd’s “Mass for Three Voices” and motets “Memento salutis auctor” and “Ave verum Corpus”; the chant proper for the Mass (Laetare); and organ music by Byrd and Orlando Gibbons.