Stations on Good Friday

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: Fraternal greetings from ‘down under.’

I received the blurb from Lit Press for your new book re Stations … congratulations. I look forward to seeing it – the sample page is neat.

I wanted to ask your thought about Good Friday in my specific context which is now rural and where we have three churches – 30 mins drive between the northern and southern churches.

The practice here has been to have Stations in the north on Good Friday morn round 1030, and then the official liturgy at 3pm in the main church. Few people travel south for the 3pm liturgy.

Some years ago I faced this same dilemma in another parish, so working with the people, I celebrated the 3pm liturgy in one church and another liturgy at 5pm in another. The latter community had previously celebrated 1030 stations on Good Friday.  It worked fine.

Our understanding is that the Good Friday liturgy is what is most desirable right?

My question of you is: in my specific pastoral reality here is there much room to move with a pre-3pm liturgy? Or are there other suggestions?

Peace to you as always,


A: The Missal says this about the Good Friday service in the rubrics at number 4: It is celebrated “on the afternoon of this day, about three o’clock (unless a later hour is chosen for a pastoral reason.)”

In the United States, we have a variation at the same number that lets the bishop permit a second service at a later hour. We use that sometimes for priests pastoring two physically distant communities as you describe, or even two language groups in the same church.

I don’t see the same permission in the missals for England and Wales or for Canada. I don’t have a copy of the Australian missal.

Regarding the starting time, there are communities who begin at noon. I guess that they reason that’s “about three o’clock”! In the US it’s fairly common to have the main Good Friday service in the evening, say around 7.

If your bishop or bishop’s conference has no objection to another service, you could clearly add one after 3 pm, and probably even before. But 10:30 am would not be ideal.

You are correct that the main Good Friday liturgy is preferable to Stations of the Cross, even the one I’ve written!—and to other devotions such as the Three Hours or the Seven Last Words. I hope you’ll be able to work it out for the benefit of the people you serve.