The Congregation for Divine Worship issued a decree with "general indications" for Holy Week celebrations. Services will be held without people. “Means of live (not recorded) telematic broadcasts can be of help.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has issued a decree with “general indications” to be followed during the celebrations held between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
This year’s Easter will be different. There will be no Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) at the Colosseum. Pope Francis will not wash feet, nor hold any celebrations with the faithful. The decree became necessary as a result of the “rapidly evolving” pandemic, “taking into account observations which have come from Episcopal Conferences”.
Noting 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.”
Nevertheless, “The faithful should be informed of the beginning times of the celebrations so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes. Means of live (not recorded) telematic broadcasts can be of help. In any event it remains important to dedicate an adequate time to prayer, giving importance above all to the Liturgia Horarum.”
These general guidelines are followed by those relating to Holy Week celebrations. Here, individual Bishops’ Conferences and dioceses are invited to provide resources “to support family and personal prayer.”
Palm Sunday celebrations must be “celebrated within sacred buildings,” and cathedral churches are required to adopt "the second form given in the Roman Missal,” whereas “in parish churches and in other places the third form is to be used.”
As for the Chrism Mass, episcopates may, depending on the situation in each country, pick another date.
As for the Paschal Triduum, the washing of the feet, already optional, shall be omitted during the Coena Domini Mass on Holy Thursday.
“On this day the faculty to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the presence of the people, is exceptionally granted to all priests.”
On Good Friday, during the universal prayer, bishops “will arrange to have a special intention prepared for those who find themselves in distress, the sick, the dead.”
“The adoration of the Cross by kissing” will also be changed, “limited solely to the celebrant.”
The Easter Vigil will “be celebrated only in cathedrals and parish churches. For the ‘Baptismal liturgy’ only the ‘Renewal of Baptismal Promises’ is maintained.”
The decree invites seminaries, priestly colleges, monasteries and religious communities to follow the aforementioned indications.
Diocesan bishops can decide to transfer the “Expressions of popular piety and processions which enrich the days of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum” to other days, like 14 and 15 September
The Congregation for the Eastern Churches issued similar indications. Celebrations “are strictly to be kept on the days foreseen by the liturgical calendar, broadcasting or streaming those celebrations that are possible, so that they can be followed by the faithful in their homes.”
The faithful should be reminded “of the value of personal and family prayer”.
Some Churches celebrate the consecration of the Holy Myron in the morning liturgy of Holy Thursday; however, this celebration is not linked in the East to this day and thus “can be moved to another date.”
On Good Friday, people should be encouraged, individually or in the family, to use “the precious texts that the oriental traditions present on this day for prayer around the Cross and the tomb of Christ.”
On Easter night, families should be invited, “where possible through the festive sound of the bells, to gather to read the Gospel of the Resurrection, lighting a lamp and singing some troparion or songs typical of their tradition that the faithful often know by memory.” (FP)