Good Friday and Tenebrae

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  The parish where I am now pastor has for the last few years celebrated a hybrid Tenebrae/Office of Readings with street procession on Good Friday in the evening. The Passion Liturgy is celebrated at 3pm. This Tenebrae is organized by the Filipino community which gathers monthly for mass at our church. It’s certainly popular among people in our urban parish. My liturgical sensitivity would be not to add things to the Triduum. Pastorally it might be a good addition to welcome people who can’t participate in the Passion.  Any thoughts?

A:  Here’s a paragraph from my book Glory in the Cross: “The Circular Letter recommends the common celebration of the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer on this day and on Holy Saturday. It says that this office was formerly called Tenebrae, but the former practices of methodically extinguishing candles and beating hymnals on pews in the dark are no longer part of the Liturgy of the Hours. These liturgical offices incorporate the singing of hymns and psalms.”

In a way, what you’re doing carries the same devotional weight as Stations of the Cross. Many people prefer to go to Stations on Good Friday than to the Passion. There’s nothing wrong with offering more than one service at church – or in the streets. But anything you can do to stress the centrality of the 3 pm Passion service would be great.