While the world is grappling with Coronavirus pandemic, with churches being forced to shut down their operations and explore alternative options to administer to their congregants via online platforms. As the Holy Week is approaching for many Christians across the world in the month of April, not much has been mentioned about how the Easter Holiday will be conducted, bearing in mind that governments worldwide have banned public gatherings.
To clear the air on how believers are supposed to conduct themselves in the Holy Week, the Catholic church has issued a number of directives and guidelines on how to go about it.
“Given that the date of Easter cannot be transferred, in the countries which have been struck by the disease and where restrictions around the assembly and movement of people have been imposed, Bishops and priests may celebrate the rites of Holy Week without the presence of the people and in a suitable place, avoiding concelebration and omitting the sign of peace,” stated an updated decree issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship.
Parishes and dioceses have been encouraged to inform Catholics of times of Easter Sunday Mass and other Holy Week liturgies so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes via live broadcast or streaming, if possible.
Palm Sunday – The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated within sacred buildings, ie cathedral churches and parish churches.
Holy Thursday – The washing of feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted. All priests are exceptionally allowed to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the presence of the people.
Good Friday – In the Universal Prayer, Bishops will have a special intention prepared for those who find themselves in distress, the sick, the dead. The adoration of the Cross by kissing it shall be limited solely to the celebrant.
The Easter Vigil – Is to be celebrated only in Cathedral and parish churches.