The Latin Rite of the Catholic Church ordinarily has no celebration of Mass between the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening and the Easter Vigil. The only sacraments celebrated during this time are Baptism (for those in danger of death), Penance, and Anointing of the Sick. While there is no celebration of the Eucharist, it is distributed to the faithful only in the Service of the Passion of the Lord, but can also be taken at any hour to the sick who are unable to attend this service. During this period crosses, candlesticks, and altar cloths are removed from the altar which remains completely bare. It is also customary to empty the holy waterfonts in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil. Traditionally, no bells are rung on Good Friday or Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil. The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord takes place in the afternoon, ideally at three o’clock, but for pastoral reasons a later hour may be chosen. The vestments used are red.
The liturgy consists of three parts: the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion.
The Liturgy of the Word, consists of the clergy and assisting ministers entering in complete silence, without any singing. They then silently make a full prostration, “[signifying] both the abasement of ‘earthly man,’ and also the grief and sorrow of the Church.” Then follows the Collect prayer, and the reading or chanting of Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9, and the Passion account from the Gospel of John, yet often divided between the celebrant and more than one singer or reader. This part of the liturgy concludes with the orationes sollemnes, a series of prayers for the Church, the Pope, the clergy and laity of the Church, those preparing for baptism, the unity of Christians, the Jewish people, those who do not believe in Christ, those who do not believe in God, those in public office, those in special need. After each prayer intention, the deacon calls the faithful to kneel for a short period of private prayer; the celebrant then sums up the prayer intention with a Collect-style prayer.
The Veneration of the Cross, has a crucifix, not necessarily the one that is normally on or near the altar at other times, solemnly displayed to the congregation and then venerated by them, individually if possible and usually by kissing the wood of the cross, while hymns and the Improperia (“Reproaches”) with the Trisagion hymn are chanted.
Holy Communion is done according to a rite based on that of the final part of Mass, beginning with the Our Father, but omitting the ceremony of “Breaking of the Bread” and its related chant, the “Agnus Dei”. The Eucharist, consecrated at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday is distributed at this service. The priest and people then depart in silence, and the altar cloth is removed, leaving the altar bare except for the cross and two or four candlesticks.