Why Communion on Good Friday?

Does anyone know the theological reasoning behind our receiving Holy Communion (consecrated the night before) on Good Friday? Christ died and is gone and was gone from the Apostles. Since we are remembering Christ’s Passion, why don’t we do like we do on Holy Saturday and not distribute/receive Communion?

[Before Pope Pius XII, only priests received Communion on Good Friday. He changed it so that everyone receives it. Given my reflection above, I ask why would the priests even have received it on Good Friday?]

This is an interesting question. Communion on Good Friday is by no means universal. It is not done, for example, in the Ambrosian Rite. (In fact, in the Ambrosian Rite, all Fridays in Lent are aliturgical: there is neither Mass nor communion.) Nor is it done in the various Byzantine Churches. Some of the Syriac Churches do have it, but the introduction of the practice there seems to be a type of latinization since in all cases in dates from no earlier than the late 16th century (after Trent). (The Syriac Orthodox Church does not have the practice.) I’m not certain of what is done in the Alexandrene Churches or the Armenian Church.

Yes, but it’s a bit more complicated. The more ancient (pre-Trent) practice seems to have been regional. Some usages were, apparently, like the Ambrosian where there was no communion at all. Others, like Rome, apparently did have it, but communion was allowed to the faithful as well. The practice of communion of the faithful on Good Friday seems to have faded out of use in the Roman Rite after Trent, before being revived with the 1955 “revisions” of the Holy Week rites.

I have wondered about this too. I have been to Good Friday ante-communion services, and they certainly make one feel very penitential.

Thank you for your reply. I attend the Melkite Divine Liturgy and they too do not have Communion on Good Friday. I think even in some Latin Rite churches, they do not have Communion.

The underlying question, though, has still yet to be answered. That is, given that Good Friday is the day Christ died on the cross, why would Communion be offered by anyone on that day anywhere the Catholic Church?

I neglected to note earlier that the Mozarabic Rite seems to include communion on Good Friday. I don’t know the practice in the Bragan Rite, nor, for that matter, do I have access to either the usages of the Western Rites suppressed after Trent, or to the pre-modification (post-Trent) practices of the Dominican and Carmelite Rites. That said, though, since the Ambrosian Rite has a close relation to the Gallican, (as does the Carmelite), it is distinctly possible, if not probable, that the practice did not exist there either.

In any case, both practices have antiquity on their side, so I don’t see that either can be said to be right or wrong. Personally, I tend to the “no” side since the focus of Good Friday is the Cross. The tone of the liturgy (in all traditions) is somber and mournful. (In some traditions it is essentially a funeral and burial.) The other side would likely counter with the idea that, while communion is a joyful event, it is also one of hope.

That’s as much as I can offer with the limited resources I have at hand. :slight_smile:

I would answer that question with another question: Why would anyone want to go a day without receiving Jesus in the Eucharist? :wink:

I’m being a bit facetious here, but I think my question points to the reason it is done. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. It is in the best interest of the faithful to receive the Eucharist every day if possible.

Yes, I understand what you are saying, but why then do we not receive Communion on Holy Saturday? I imagine logistically this could be managed by consecrating more hosts on Holy Thursday.

We do if we attend the Easter Vigil. :slight_smile:

While it does not answer the question raised by the OP, this section from Paschale Solemnitatis highlights what is supposed to happen on Good Friday:

V. Good Friday

  1. On this day, when “Christ our passover was sacrificed,” [63] the Church mediates on the passion of her Lord and Spouse, adores the cross, commemorates her origin from the side of Christ asleep on the cross, and intercedes for the salvation of the whole world.
  1. On this day, in accordance with ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Eucharist: Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful during the celebration of the Lord’s passion alone, though it may be brought at any time of the day to the sick who cannot take part in the celebration. [64]
  1. Good Friday is a day of penance to be observed as an obligation in the whole Church, and indeed, through abstinence and fasting. [65]

I am trying to find an English-language version of the document Maxima Redemptionis by Pope Pius XII which revised the Triduum. Maybe this might give us some insight.

Prior to Pius XII’s reforms in 1955, only the priest received communion on Good Friday. The reforms restored communion to the people, which was what had been done prior to the middle ages.

This is all I could find in Latin from the 1955 reforms:

  1. Feria VI in Passione et Morte Domini, sacra communio distribui
    potest unice inter solemnem actionem liturgicam postmeridianam, exceptis
    item infirmis in periculo mortis constitutis.

If anyone knows Latin, please translate this. The only thing I could make out was the last line about the sick and those near death.

It says that in the day of the Passion and Death of the Lord, the holy communion can be distributed only during the solemn liturgical actions of the afternoon, except in the case of sick people in danger of death.

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