1st April 2020
Holy Week is almost upon us, but this year it will be really different because you’re going to be celebrating it at home. It’s a rather odd thought having to celebrate Holy Week and the Triduum entirely at home but this is what Providence has dealt us. The ceremonies we normally have at church are so beautiful and moving, but this year the onus is on you to make it something really beautiful and special, and a Holy Week that you will remember in years to come. Normally you turn up at church for the ceremonies and everything is prepared. But this year everyone is going to have to organise it themselves. And we want to do it in a way that will touch us and that will also help form our youngsters in the great mysteries of the Faith. After all, we’re going to be celebrating the greatest and most important events in human history – the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood, the trial, crucifixion and death of JESUS, His laying in the tomb for three days and then on Easter Sunday His resurrection from the dead. These events changed the world and humanity forever, so we need to celebrate them well.
So I recommend you don’t leave it till the last minute to decide what you’re going to do. It’s good to do some research now. Many of you will be watching services online. There are a lot of online resources too. I have in anticipation of Sunday blessed most of the palms which are now outside the church for you to take. Some ‘Angels of Mercy’ have already been delivering them to parishioners. If you’re in a family and you have the space you might even have your own procession with palms? I attach the text of the Liturgy for Palm Sunday with this letter. There are two Gospels this Sunday – one at the beginning for the Procession, and then the reading of the Passion.
In so far as we can, let’s really try to keep the traditions of our Church this Holy Week. As I’ve suggested previously, make a small altar so as you have a focal point for prayer. Use Holy Water in the house, veil your statues and crucifixes now that we’re in Passiontide. It’s also traditional on Maundy Thursday to change the veil on the cross to white. And speaking of colours, if you can change them on a daily basis, it should be white on Maundy Thursday and at Easter, red on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, and purple in between. And then on Easter Sunday (we always have magnificent flowers at St Mary’s – we’re not going to have that this year because it’s going to fall to me to do it!), but why not go and buy some beautiful flowers and put them up in your house around your altar for Easter Sunday? These are just a few ideas and no doubt you will have many of your own.
A reminder that even though the church is closed, Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence. This means we mustn’t eat meat, but you are allowed one meal and two other snacks that do not equal one full meal. This helps to unite us with our Lord crucified. Those in their sixtieth year and above are not required to fast but should still abstain from meat.
Finally, let us pray during this difficult time for all those who are infected by Coronavirus and all the doctors and nurses in the frontline fighting against it putting themselves at risk. Let us remember those who have died and their families, especially the doctors who died of Coronavirus looking after the sick, one of them from this area. There was a very sad story in the news this morning of a 13 year old boy who died of Coronavirus completely alone, without his family around him because it wasn’t safe for them to be near him. Then let us pray for our Government that they may be given prudence in making right decisions to end the crisis. And let us pray for ourselves, that we learn the lessons taught by this pandemic – among them the need of penance and conversion. May we also during these last days of Lent remain steadfast in our devotions and works of mercy and arrive at Easter as the saints Our Lord is calling us to be.
May God bless you all.