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Looking Ahead to Holy Week
Providing we don’t end up going back into any sort of restrictions before Holy Week comes along, my plan is to have the traditional services at the usual times, but I will be adapting them slightly conscious of the fact that we are meant to be economical with the length of time people are gathered in church and that one of two of the usual components of the services won’t be possible – or at least not in their traditional form. All the Masses and services will attended but will also be live-streamed to the internet as usual.
We will still be subject to social distancing restrictions and in that regard let me just mention that it isn’t only a matter of maintaining 2m between unrelated persons, but also how many people it is safe to have gathered together (even wearing face masks) for the duration of each service. Given the size of our church, we are limited to 30 people whether all socially distanced individuals or a mix of individuals and family groups. The church may look fairly empty if there are a lot of family groups because they will be occupying fewer pews than a lot of individuals would – it’s the number we are limited to. We also have to take into account the fact that our ancient windows no longer open to provide cross-ventilation in church, and also in this cold weather we can’t leave the door open (plus the problem of traffic noise and fumes).
(There will be no singing at any of the services.)
PALM SUNDAY (9:30am)
There will be palm crosses available as usual which we will bless at the beginning of Mass as usual, but instead of the long reading of The Passion I will use the gospel account of Our Lord’s ‘Entry into Jerusalem’ that would normally be read before the blessing of palms.
HOLY THURSDAY (7pm as usual)
There will be no Washing of Feet. The Liturgy of the Word will be as normal – 1st, 2nd, and Gospel. The Mass is straightforward. The altar won’t be stripped.
GOOD FRIDAY (3pm as usual)
The Liturgy of the Word will be as normal (1st & 2nd readings) but I will read the shorter form of The Passion. I will prepare the Prayers of Intercession based on the ones given but in the normal Sunday format. We can’t have the usual Adoration of the Cross (with people kissing it) and so it will be simply placed in front of the altar for a few minutes of silent adoration. Communion will then be distributed in the normal manner.
EASTER VIGIL (8pm as usual)
The Pascal Candle will be lit and blessed on the sanctuary – so no procession through the church. I will read (not sing) the short form of the Easter Proclamation. We will have just one Old Testament reading (Reading 4 from Exodus 14 – the short form) with no prayers after it, just the responsorial psalm that goes with it, then the NT reading and psalm, and the Gospel. After the “homily” I will bless the baptismal water, we will renew our baptismal promises. The Mass will then continue as usual.