Bishop offers ways to celebrate Holy Week

Published: April 3, 2020

Watch Bishop Taylor Celebrate Mass

 Bishop Taylor will celebrate bilingual Masses for Holy Week and Easter live on the diocesan Facebook page and YouTube channel from the House of Formation in Little Rock as the following times: Palm Sunday, April 5 at 10 a.m.; Holy Thursday, April 9 at 7 p.m.; Good Friday service, April 10, at 7 p.m.; Easter Vigil Mass, April 11, at 8 p.m.; and Easter Sunday, April 12, at 10 a.m.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor mandated the suspension of all public Masses through April 15, which includes Holy Week and Easter. The Vatican's "Decree in the Time of COVID-19," released March 25, declared that since the date of Easter cannot be moved, "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." This means the laity are to celebrate the holiest week of the liturgical year at home. 

"The decree encourages pastors to inform the faithful of the times of the liturgical celebrations, 'so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes' to the prayer of the Church," explained Vatican News. The decree encouraged live streaming of these liturgies indicating "live (not recorded) telematic broadcasts can be of help" in creating this unity. | See Pope Francis' Holy Week and Easter Schedule

In the April 4 issue of Arkansas Catholic, Bishop Taylor shared his schedule for celebrating Holy Week live on the diocesan Facebook page and YouTube channel from the House of Formation in Little Rock. | See schedule or watch.

In addition, "the Mass is being celebrated privately by priests in many locations and live streamed to people who join in the worship in that way, thus uniting themselves to the Lord in spiritual communion through social media from their homes," the bishop explained referring to priests in parishes across Arkansas. Contact your parish to get its schedule for Holy Week, or go to Watch Mass from Home to find links to parish Facebook and YouTube channels.

"Catholics can participate in these (Masses) on social media and then make a spiritual communion at the time when the priest receives Communion on camera," the bishop said when explaining how the faithful can observe the traditions of Holy Week at home. "People can also pray the Scripture readings for these Masses at home, come by their church to receive palms on Palm Sunday and pray the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday — making sure that not more than 10 people are gathered at any one time.

"People participating in the Good Friday service through the Internet can venerate one of their own crosses in their home while the priest is venerating a cross in the Good Friday service. Many of our churches will be open during the day for eucharistic adoration (through Thursday) and veneration of the cross (Friday), with enough space for people to maintain physical distancing."

The Chrism Mass, which is normally celebrated the Monday of Holy Week, has been rescheduled to Aug. 10. It was moved in accordance with the Vatican decree, which permits this liturgy to be moved, and is not formally a part of the Easter Triduum. Bishop Taylor explained that "priests have permission to use last year’s oils until that time."

There are normally two special collections taken up during Holy Week. The Good Friday collection for the Holy Land has been rescheduled to Sept. 13. The other is the Holy Thursday Collection for Seminarian Education, which will still be held on Holy Thursday. The easiest way to donate is online.

As for the elect and candidates who have been preparing to enter the Church at the Easter Vigil, the bishop said, "More recently it has become apparent that this year it will no longer be possible for the Easter Vigil to be celebrated in parishes, so on March 19 I advised pastors that other arrangements will need to be made for those who otherwise would be entering the Church this Easter."

To find suggestions to help the faithful celebrate the traditions of Holy Week and Easter at home, go to Make your home ready for Holy Week.