Spanish bishops encourage care during Holy Week celebrations

The prelates have addressed a letter to explain the adaptations of the guidelines that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments published in relation to the celebrations of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum.

Maria José Atienza-March 26, 2021-Reading time: 6 minutes
feet crucified

The Spanish bishops belonging to the Episcopal Commission for the Liturgy wanted to address priests and faithful to explain the adaptations that have been made for Spain of the guidelines that the Episcopal Commission for the Liturgy has issued. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments published in relation to the celebrations of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum in this year 2021. In this sense, the bishops have recalled that "an effort has been made to adapt them to the reality and circumstances of our country".  

Care of on-site celebrations

The note of the bishops recommends "whenever possible, based on responsible discernment, participation in the celebration in person, taking an active part in the assembly. Evidently, "those faithful who, because of age, illness or health reasons, are unable to participate in person in the celebrations" are exempt, and are advised to follow the celebrations by means of the media.

In all the celebrations, the norms issued by the health authorities in the fight against the virus should be respected: the capacity of the temples, the sanitary and hygienic recommendations to make the places of worship healthy and safe spaces, the use of masks, availability of hydroalcoholic gel, social distance, ventilation of the spaces, etc. They also recommend reducing the number of ministers to the minimum necessary, avoiding the distribution of subsidies or pamphlets and ensuring that singing, if performed, is done with appropriate precautions.

The prelates point out the need to prepare the celebrations "choosing well the alternatives proposed by the Liturgy". They also point out that if there are circumstances of real need and problems of capacity "the diocesan bishop can authorize several celebrations to be held in the same church at successive times".

Live, virtual celebrations

The Episcopal Commission for Liturgy also encourages the live broadcasting of the celebrations presided by the Bishop in the cathedral, as a sign of unity of the diocese, so that the faithful who are unable to attend can participate from their homes. In addition, they point out the possibility of offering the faithful the possibility of celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours, especially the Lauds and Vespers of each day and the Office of Readings.

Indications for priests

The members of the commission also indicate in the note that "the priests who are affected by the virus and are confined should also try to celebrate the different rites, as far as possible and if their health permits".

On the other hand, to those priests who are active, they should take special care of the Sacrament of Penance having "a greater availability so that the faithful can celebrate this Sacrament, with all the measures of precaution, social distance and discretion".

Own liturgical celebrations

Palm Sunday in the Passion of the Lord.

For the commemoration of the Lord's entry into Jerusalem, the first form described by the Missal -procession- will be avoided.

In cathedrals, the second form - solemn entrance - is to be used, at least at the principal Mass. The faithful will remain in their places and the blessing and proclamation of the Gospel will be made from a place within the church where the faithful can see the rite. A representation of the faithful may participate in the procession to the altar along with the Bishop and the ministers.

In parishes and other places of worship, the third form -single entry- shall be used.

Chrism Mass.

At the Bishop's discretion, the date of the Chrism Mass may be moved to a day that seems more appropriate.

If the norms on seating capacity do not permit the attendance of all the priests of the diocese and it is also necessary to limit the number of faithful, the Bishop should see to it that at least a representation of the presbyterate - for example, the episcopal council, or the presbyteral council, or the archpriests - and a group of faithful can attend, and that the celebration be retransmitted, so that those who would have wished to attend, particularly the rest of the clergy, can at least follow it by these means.

Maundy Thursday.

Exceptionally, as last year, priests have the faculty to celebrate Mass without the people on this day, if circumstances make it advisable -for example, the priest's own infection with the virus or the confinement of a population-. Those who do not have the possibility of celebrating Mass will preferably pray Vespers.

The rite of the washing of the feet is to be omitted.

Since this year's celebration will be held, in most cases, with some participation of the people, the procession and the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament for adoration and communion on the following day should not be omitted. As far as possible, the faithful should be allowed to spend time in adoration, always respecting the hours of restriction on the free movement of the people that are established in each place.

If several Masses of the Lord's Supper are to be celebrated in the same church, they should always be celebrated in the evening, and the solemn reservation of the Blessed Sacrament should be omitted, except for the last one.

If the entire Triduum is not to be celebrated in a church, the solemn Eucharistic reservation should not be made. Also, if the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper has not been celebrated, avoid Eucharistic adoration unrelated to the celebration of the Lord's Supper.

If the celebration is without the participation of the people, the procession is omitted, and the reservation is made in the usual tabernacle.

Good Friday.

The celebration of the Lord's Passion is to be ensured at least in the Cathedral, in the parish churches, at least in the main ones, and in those of greater capacity within the pastoral zones established in each Diocese.

In the universal prayer, the usual form is to be used with the addition of the special intention that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments published last year (Decree Prot. N. 155/20). The text of the intention, which is added between IX and X, is as follows:

IXb. For those who suffer in times of pandemic.

Let us also pray for all those who suffer the consequences of the current pandemic: that God the Father may grant health to the sick, strength to the health personnel, comfort to the families and salvation to all the victims who have died.

Silent prayer. The priest continues: Almighty and eternal God, singular protector in human sickness, look compassionately upon the affliction of your children who suffer from this pandemic; relieve the pain of the sick, give strength to those who care for them, welcome in your peace those who have died and, while this tribulation lasts, grant that all may find relief in your mercy. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

R. Amen.

At the moment of adoration of the cross the celebrant will do so by genuflecting or bowing deeply. The rest of the assembly will do so by genuflecting or bowing deeply when the cross is shown, and each will do so without moving from his or her place. All participants in the liturgy could also be invited to make a moment of silent prayer while contemplating the cross. In any case, the procession of the faithful should be avoided at this time of the celebration.

Easter Vigil

It will be celebrated at least in the Cathedral and in the main parish churches, which have sufficient capacity to allow the faithful to participate in safety.

Depending on the civil regulations that have been established in each place regarding the restriction of the free movement of citizens, a suitable time should be chosen for the beginning of the celebration to facilitate the participation of the faithful in the celebration and their return home at the end of the celebration.

The "beginning of the vigil or lucernarium" may be done at the entrance of the church. The main celebrant should be accompanied by a limited number of ministers, while all the faithful remain in their places. The fire is blessed, the rites of preparation are performed and the candle is lit as indicated in the Missal. The priest and the ministers, keeping a safe distance, make the procession down the center aisle and the three invocations "Light of Christ" are sung. It is not recommended that the candles be distributed among the faithful and that they light the candles from the candle and then pass the light to one another. After the invocations the Easter Proclamation is sung.

The Liturgy of the Word follows. For the sake of brevity, the number of readings may be shortened, but care should be taken to give the appropriate relevance to this moment of the celebration. In no case should it be reduced to a normal Sunday Liturgy of the Word with only three readings.

The "Baptismal Liturgy" is celebrated as indicated in the Missal. The presence of the assembly makes it advisable not to omit the rite of sprinkling after the renewal of the baptismal promises. Care should be taken, however, to avoid contact with the water to be blessed when it is prepared, and the priest should sanitize the hands with hydroalcoholic gel before the sprinkling.

It does not seem advisable, given the circumstances, to celebrate the baptism of children during the Easter Vigil. If the sacraments of Christian Initiation are to be administered to adults or if the baptism of a child is to be celebrated at the end, let it be done with all hygienic and sanitary measures to ensure that the signs and rites are done properly but safely, especially those involving contact, such as anointings.

Those who are unable to participate in the solemn Easter Vigil may pray the Office of Readings indicated for Easter Sunday on the Resurrection of the Lord, with the desire to join the whole Church in the celebration of the Paschal Mystery.

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