Is Communion Distributed on Good Friday?

Details About the Roman Catholic Good Friday Service

Elevation of the Host during Mass at St. Mary's Oratory, Rockford, IL (Photo © Scott P. Richert)
Scott P. Richert

Is the Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion distributed on Good Friday? If you were to ask a Catholic person, they may not know the answer off the top of their heads. It is a tricky question since a mass is celebrated to consecrate the bread and wine. And Good Friday is considered a liturgical day of worship but is not a mass. Take a closer look at why Holy Communion is distributed on Good Friday. 

Roman Catholic High Holy Days

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. This time is considered the high holy period of Lent or the Lenten season. Good Friday is the solemn day during  Holy Week that Christians remember as the day Jesus Christ was crucified.

The liturgy or ritualistic rites are usually the same every year, include a reading of the Passion or the crucifixion story, a number of prayers, and the veneration of the cross. The Stations of the Cross are a 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ's last day. It includes being condemned to die, his physical voyage to the cross, and his death.

A Word About Holy Communion

At a Roman Catholic worship service, normally called a mass, a priest consecrates the bread and wine. A Roman Catholic believes the bread and body transforms into the body and blood and Christ. According to the church, a baptized Roman Catholic can only partake in Holy Communion if he or she is in a state of grace. 

Holy Communion on Good Friday

On Good Friday, since there is no mass, and no bread and wine are consecrated it stands to reason that the Holy Eucharist is not distributed. The reason Holy Communion takes place is that the consecrated bread and wine (also called the Hosts) are reserved from the Mass of the Lord's Supper from the evening before on Holy Thursday

After the veneration of the cross on Good Friday, the Hosts are distributed to the faithful. This is called the Liturgy of the Presanctified—literally meaning "that which was made holy before."

Usually, Good Friday is a day of fasting within the church. Baptism, penance, and anointing of the sick may be performed, but only in unusual circumstances. Church bells are silent. Altars are left bare.

Reforms Changes Good Friday Ritual

For centuries, only the priest received Holy Communion at the Liturgy of the Presanctified on Good Friday. In 1956, this tradition changed with a reform of the rites for Holy Week. From that point on, in both the traditional Latin mass and the later Novus Ordo, the faithful have received Communion along with the priest. The Novus Ordo was a reform or "new order" of the ritual mass celebrated by Catholics.

Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Tradition

In the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Eucharist is only consecrated on Sundays and feast days during Lent, so similar Liturgies of the Presanctified are held during the week to distribute Communion to the faithful.