Holy Week Liturgies
I am very grateful to our Bishop and the Office for Divine Worship in Charlotte for this week issuing updated guidelines on worship in our churches and, especially, modifications concerning Holy Week celebrations. When preparing these guidelines, the diocese consults CDC guidelines, current practices in parish churches around the diocese, and the Catholic Medical Board that serves as a consultative body to the nation’s bishops conference.
All of our Holy Week liturgies will be open to the public. Processions being allowed, we will have a Solemn Procession with palms on Palm Sunday at the 8am Sunday Mass and 2pm Mass in Spanish, the procession on Holy Thursday to repose the Most Blessed Sacrament, and the procession after the blessing of the Easter fire during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. While I had originally planned to employ the mandatum rite (the “Washing of the Feet,” which is an optional component of the Holy Thursday Mass) during Evening Prayer before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the diocese has directed that it be omitted again this year.
The diocese has also lifted its suspension on congregational singing as long as churches continue to recommend masks and encourage physical distancing, which we will continue to do as we have done since reopening. To enable this while continuing to avoid using “common touch” items such as hymnals and in-pew Missalettes, we will be preparing disposable programs for the liturgies of Holy Week to foster participation.
I am grateful, too, for all of our parishioners who have returned to Mass and continue to pay particular attention to the precautions the parish is taking to prevent the spread of COVID. Increased Mass attendance has caused some concerns. A number of individuals and families at all of our Masses began to ignore the closed pew signs, causing us to use physical barriers to assist with physical distancing. More particularly at the 2pm Mass, which has reached capacity for the past three weeks and caused the need for some to attend Mass in the foyer and in the parking lot, we need a way to facilitate participation by those who are outside. As a response, the parish is currently examining solutions to install outdoor speakers in the shallow porch / entry way of the church. Thank you to our liturgical ministers and the Pastoral Council for all of the counsel and assistance they have provided to me in navigating these waters.