No processions and no baptisms during Holy Week

Normally on Good Friday in Westminster, the different Christian communities come together for a procession and prayers.

Mazur /

Some of the most beloved Holy Week rituals will not take place this year due to lingering concerns about the transmission of the coronavirus. Instead, there will be only moderate and limited services in England and Wales, following the publication of instructions from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

in frontade mecum – or guidance note – released on Tuesday, the general principles of the bishops include:

  • Abandonment of the open-air Palm Sunday procession

  • Cut the washing of the feet at the Lord’s Supper Mass on Holy Thursday

  • Leave the procession at the altar of rest and watch at the altar of rest

  • Stop the Adoration of the Cross by anyone other than the celebrant on Good Friday

  • Removal of the exterior parts of the paschal vigil, including the lighting of the paschal candal

  • Urging that no one be baptized or received into the Church during the Easter Vigil.

In its note, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales explains: “The theological significance found through the celebrations of Holy Week with their wealth of signs and symbols must be tempered by the provision that the Church in England and Wales is part of a larger community in which the possibilities of virus transmission are still high ”.

And in an effort to bring the faithful together, despite the continuing difficulties of worship at this time, he urged those who cannot attend in-person services to instead focus on the liturgies of their local bishop. The vade mecum says: “There should be an emphasis on media coverage of liturgies presided over by the diocesan bishop so that those who cannot attend their own church [should] follow diocesan celebrations as a sign of unity. Thus, the times of the Holy Triduum cathedral celebrations should be promoted in each of the dioceses of England and Wales alongside the local parish celebrations.

While the reconfigured rubrics can be a blow to Catholics for whom the Triduum is the most precious moment of the liturgical year, the changes mark an improvement over last year, when congregations were unable to attend any. service. This year’s plans were made following a note issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome, discussions with the government’s Places of Worship Task Force, which maintained its ban on congregational singing , and advice on the own public health of Catholic bishops. advisor, Jim McManus.

A surprise to the laity will be the decision not to organize outdoor events, such as the Palm Sunday procession and the first part of the Easter vigil, but it was feared that this could lead to overcrowding, lack of social distancing and, with the Easter Vigil, people jostle in the dark.

Among the main directions described in vade mecum is that on Palm Sunday, as well as no procession, the bishops urge that the shorter form of the Gospel of Mark be used and without multiple readers. Palm branches can be distributed.

The Chrism Mass can take place with a few concelebrants, renewal of priestly promises and distribution of oils.

On Holy Thursday, for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, as well as no washing of the feet, there will be no procession to the altar of rest, and “the altar should not be stripped in the usual way. “. Watching is not possible either.

On Good Friday there are cuts in the main service of Good Friday, with the “turba” parts of the Gospel that are not exclaimed by the congregation. The adoration of the Cross is limited to the celebrant. During prayers, a special intention for the “afflicted in times of pandemic” should be inserted.

If the Stations of the Cross take place on Good Friday, the congregation should not come to the church.

During the paschal vigil, the paschal candle must not be carried and it must be lit before the arrival of the congregation or at the beginning of the service. Worshipers should not have votive candles. The Reading should be split into two extracts from the Old Testament of the Law and the Prophets, plus Exodus 14 and its song, and the Gospel. Baptisms, receptions and confirmations are not recommended.

On Easter Day, Mass can be celebrated as usual, but without watering.

Standard public health practices remain in place, regarding the wearing of masks, hand disinfection and social distancing. The bishops also say that the times of liturgical celebrations should also be arranged so that “those who have to travel by public transport to get to the local church do so in times when there is less congestion on the road. these services ”.

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