Q: At the conclusion of the Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion the deacon, or if there is no deacon, the priest himself, says “Bow down for the blessing.” Then a prayer over the people is said by the priest as has been done throughout Lent. The missal does not explicitly indicate whether or not a blessing is to be given.
In “Glory in the Cross” you state, “This prayer over the people, however, does not conclude with the traditional trinitarian blessing.” You go on to say, “It is a prayer over the people, not a solemn blessing. It addresses God, not the people.”
Why do you say that the prayer does not conclude with a blessing? It seems to me that the instruction, “Bow down for the blessing.” implies that a blessing is to be given. All throughout Lent we have been doing this and we were never explicitly told that a blessing followed the prayer over the people. The only place this is laid out is in the Order of Mass – Prayers Over the People when it says, “After the prayer, the Priest always adds: And may the blessing of almighty God…” If a blessing is not given why are we to bow down? It leaves the congregation bowed down waiting for a blessing that isn’t coming; meanwhile the presider is departing in silence.
A: The reason I say that there is no blessing on Good Friday is that the ceremony is not a Mass. The blessing concludes the prayer over the people in the Order of Mass, but the Order of Mass does not apply to what happens on Good Friday. As to why the command is to bow for the blessing, this particular prayer over the people does in fact pray for the Lord’s “abundant blessing.”
Furthermore, signs of the cross are omitted from the beginning of the Good Friday celebration and from the beginning of the proclamation of the Passion. There is no eucharistic prayer with its sign of the cross over the elements. I believe that the sign is to be completely omitted, even from the blessing.
I also argue that the greeting does not precede the prayer over the people on Good Friday. The priest does not say, “The Lord be with you,” which is explicitly removed from the introductory rites and the proclamation of the Passion, and falls out with the rest of the eucharistic prayer on this day. Because in Latin the two bare words Dominus vobiscum could be understood in the present indicative (“The Lord is with you”), I believe it is completely omitted on Good Friday.