One of the most heartbreaking realities for Christians during the COVID – 19 Coronavirus pandemic is the suspension of the public celebration of the Liturgies of Holy Week. This reality will certainly bring a void; however, it does not mean that, we as Christians, cannot participate in a meaningful way. Below are some suggestions for the faithful to observe Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter. These are merely suggestions and, by no means, exhaust the possibilities of fruitful and prayerful participation of Holy Week. These suggestions are not to replace participation of the Holy Week Liturgies via Livestream, as many of our parishes are offering that service.
Even though we cannot gather physically, being united in prayer through livestream still gives us the chance to enter the Sacred Liturgy as a community. Therefore, when participating via livestream participate as if you are physically there. Hold an hour of fast prior to the Liturgy, dress for Mass, set chairs in front of the computer as if they were pews, and actively participate in the Liturgy with appropriate responses and actions. During the reception of Holy Communion by the priest, make a spiritual communion praying in a special way for those who are suffering from coronavirus and for the day when we can be united again in the Eucharist.
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
The procession with Palms has been eliminated by the Holy Sea. However, take time at home to read the Gospel (Matthew 21: 1-11) account of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Afterwards, have family members raise any type of branch (i.e., last year’s palms) in joyful celebration remembering Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Then, you could display the palm branches on your front door.
Following the Mass, take a few moments of silence, possibly using funeral bell tolls on a smart phone or computer to reflect on how at the beginning of the Liturgy we were celebrating and how at the end of the Mass, we enter Holy Week.
Gather as a family for a nice meal, remembering, that Jesus gathered with his friends for a meal. During the evening, have a ceremonial washing of each other ‘s feet. (These ideas can only be done by members of the immediate family members or those living under the same roof. Unfortunately, anyone outside the household would be prevented from joining in the meal or feet washing)
Set up an altar of repose with a statue of our Lord taking time to pray in front of our Lord.
Enter a time of complete silence from the hours of 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. Abstain from electronics and cell phones. This is a time of solemn silence. Place a family crucifix or cross in a prominent place of the home, taking time to reverence the cross or crucifix. This should be done as close to the 3:00 p.m. hour as possible, the time of Jesus’ death.
Dress up in your Easter clothing and set up an area outside in your yard, if possible, and participate in the Liturgy via livestream outside enjoying God’s creation and beauty. Rest in the Peace of Jesus Christ, knowing that the Lord’s resurrection overcame sin and death.