by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Will Catholics be able to participate in Holy Week and Easter despite the coronavirus pandemic?
Yes, but with adaptations — and in their homes.
On March 19 and 25, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, issued decrees for how the church should celebrate Holy Week and Easter during these difficult times.
Those who can are encouraged to view the liturgies live on television or live-streamed over the internet. And if these means are unavailable, Catholics are to prayerfully unite themselves in their homes while the liturgies are happening.
“The Holy See this past week issued guidelines on how to adapt the rites of the Mass and liturgies of Holy Week for livestream transmission, and those were put together and sent out to pastors [as archdiocesan norms on March 25], celebrating Holy Week without a congregation,” said Michael Podrebarac, archdiocesan consultant for liturgy and sacramental life.
These, in a nutshell, are the norms:
• The liturgies of Holy Week will be private, celebrated in the cathedral and parish churches, at the proper liturgical times and may not be prerecorded. The faithful may view them at a later time, however.
• No more than 10 asymptomatic individuals may be present at the liturgies, including all clerics and the person responsible for livestreaming.
• The liturgies at parishes will be simplified, such as using the alternative forms in the Roman Missal on Palm Sunday. Certain elements in some liturgies will be eliminated, such as: the blessing and distribution of palms, the rite of the washing of feet, procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose, kissing or touching the cross by anyone other than the celebrant during the Adoration of the Holy Cross, the lighting of fire at the beginning of the Easter Vigil, the blessing of water and rite of sprinkling, and the renewal of baptismal promises on Easter.
There will also, obviously, be changes for those preparing to enter the church at the Easter Vigil.
The rites of initiation and reception will not take place, but pastors can receive catechumens in danger of death. For those who would have entered the church at the Easter Vigil, pastors may celebrate these rites once government restrictions have been lifted and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann directs the resumption of public liturgies.
The Chrism Mass will be held at a later date to be determined, said Podrebarac. Also, the office for liturgy and sacramental life will prepare resources people can use for the days of Holy Week. These will be like the “Our Sunday Supplication” found in this Leaven. They will also be found in the “Prayer Resources” section of the archdiocesan website.
“Anyone wishing to receive the resource ‘Our Sunday Supplication’ or the Holy Week version ‘Our Triduum Supplication’ can email me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org,” said Podrebarac.