The coronavirus pandemic will require far-ranging sacrifices for the Church this Holy Week and Easter. However, this is an opportunity to see unusual circumstances as a way to deepen our faith. I read recently: “No Palm Sunday Procession, no Washing of the Feet, no altar of Repose, no Veneration of the Cross, no Easter Fire, no Sacraments of Initiation… you and I might ask ‘what’s left?’” The answer is this… the Paschal Mystery in all its starkness and glory! Even without the full celebration of the ceremonies, the liturgies of Holy Week direct us all to enter into this sacred time with Jesus in a way reminiscent of the earliest followers of the Way (see Acts 24:14)… the earliest followers of Jesus Christ.
The dramatic restrictions are the response of the Church s to the global public health crisis that has accelerated in recent weeks. Officials warn that the numbers we see on the news are likely to increase in the next few weeks. Stay at home orders remain in place across our country until the Government reviews the situation.
The Holy Week norms under which we will observe Holy Week are very different from our usual customs and reflect the fact that we are in a difficult time, unable to celebrate these powerful liturgies as they are meant to be celebrated, namely, with the participation of the People of God. Nevertheless, the celebration of these liturgies will offer our praise to God and bring all of us abundant graces and blessings.
Pope Francis will also celebrate Holy Week and Easter amid stringent restrictions in Italy. The pope will not include the Chrism Mass, usually celebrated the morning of Maundy Thursday. For the first time in his pontificate, the pope will celebrate the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the Vatican.
The faithful in the parishes as you will see elsewhere are encouraged to prayerfully unite themselves to Holy Week liturgies by participating via live-streamed broadcasts(see the timetable for our parish) On Palm Sunday, churches will not distribute palms
The Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday at which priests renew their commitment to priestly service and the Archbishop blesses and consecrates the oils for use in the sacraments is postponed “until public gatherings resume so that the blessing and consecration of the holy oils may be a joyful celebration of the whole Church, particularly for the priests of the diocese who gather as a sign of their unity with the Bishop, their fraternity with one another, and their commitment to the promises they made at ordination
On Maundy Thursday, The Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be live-streamed at 7.00 pm. The Camera will be placed before the tabernacle at the conclusion of this Mass so that there may be a focus for prayer
On Good Friday, The Liturgy of the Passion and Death of the Lord which will be live-streamed at 3.00 pm, will include a special intention for an end to the pandemic which will be added to the Universal Prayer.
On Holy Saturday the Tomb of the Lord will be set up (A Polish Tradition) which will allow us to meditate on the mystery of the Day on Holy Saturday. This will be live-streamed from 11.00 am until 12.00 noon and will consist of readings and prayers before the image of the dead Lord Jesus..
Solemnity of the Resurrection
The Easter Vigil and First Mass of Easter will be live-streamed at 8.00 pm on Holy Saturday night This will inevitably lack its accustomed splendour but I do encourage everyone to participate.
On Easter Sunday Morning the Holy Mass will be live streamed at 10.00 am
These “unadorned liturgies” are invitations to strip away much of the popular cultural observance often associated with these days and to see them with the new eyes of faith, hope, and love, That which we celebrate at Easter is not simply new life won for us, but new life won for us at a cost!
Yes, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter will not be the same this year, but maybe that is because you and I are being invited, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light’. For me, this is the ultimate grace in this testing time of asking where God is… where is Jesus Christ in my life… and have I placed any other gods before Him?
Each day this week, I invite you to join me in prayer and on the web as the Paschal Mystery — the living, dying, and rising of Jesus Christ — unfolds before us. May the simplicity of what we do help us to more plainly see the wondrous love Holy Week is all about and the hope it brings to our world even today.
In spite of the limitations, indeed, the frustrations of these times, there is a very real sense in which the spiritual health of any parish can be seen in the way this unique time of the year is kept. In your homes and families and as you share in the Liturgies on-line, please endeavour to be with Our Lord in his Passion, so then, to share in the joy of His Resurrection. I hope that you and your family will have some blessed times together in spite of all the present difficulties
The Sacrament cannot be celebrated over the telephone or by conference call. A pastoral conversation and reassuring prayer may, of course, take place by these means. Requests for individual confession are very difficult to meet, given the demands of staying at home, social distancing and church closure The recent Note from the Apostolic Penitentiary on the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the current epidemic, 20th March 2020 states:
Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by votum confessionis, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. CCC, no. 1452).
The Bishops have asked that all should make a Perfect Act of Contrition at this time. Perfect contrition (or a Contrition of Charity) is true and real sorrow for our sins which is created when we realise the immense love of God for each one of us. We express this contrition when we realise how we offend God by our sinful words, deeds and omissions in contrast to the immeasurable love and mercy that He continually shows us. This requires us to be contrite of heart for what we have done, know and be overwhelmed by the love and mercy of God for His children, and to approach this grace with humility and resolution not to sin again.
An Act of Contrition
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.
Finally, please remember I am only at the end of the phone and may I thank those who have phoned to ask after my welfare and those who have sent Easter cards together with Easter gifts and Easter offerings. By post or pushed them through the letterbox. This has been very touching and is much appreciated at a time like this when we are all inevitably concerned about other matters.
Many thanks May we all have a truly Blessed Holy Week
Christopher J P Draycott
An Act of Spiritual Holy Communion
This should be used at the appropriate moment when participating in a televised Mass. It is of course preferable to watch a live broadcast rather than a recording
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I desire to receive you in my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you.
Catechetical sessions are suspended until further notice,. Fr Christopher will give some You tube video talks which will be available on the website
This of course is presenting a particular problem In these difficult circumstances when we must not leave our homes without good cause(Necessary Shopping and daily exercise) Please phone 07721559387 in order to discover how and when to take any contributions you may have. Please remember that this would of necessity need to be part of one’s daily exercise or necessary journey for shopping
If you have any intentions for which you wish the Holy Mass to be offered please telephone the Presbytery
Donations and Collections during this time
We have been asked by Parishioners(apart from those who already support the parishes by bankers order) how they can make donations/and continued financial provision for the parish while Masses are not being celebrated publicly. Weekly offerings (envelopes and loose) whether for the first or second weekly collection should be kept at home until further provision is made. The Good Friday Collection for the Holy Places and any other second collection mandated by the diocese will be transferred to a later date in the year when the churches are again in use. We are looking in to making provisions on the website which will make this easier The Diocese will be sending information in due course.