FALL RIVER — For Catholics, the liturgical year reaches its highpoint next week with the Easter Triduum, from the evening of Holy Thursday, April 1, to the evening of Easter Sunday, April 4. The central events of the Easter Triduum, and of the Christian faith, comprise the Paschal Mystery and commemorate Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
“Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God principally through paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life. Therefore, the Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year. Thus, the solemnity of Easter has the same kind of preeminence in the liturgical year that Sunday has in the week.” (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 18).
Plans are in place for the public celebration of the Easter Triduum liturgies in most churches in the Fall River Diocese with COVID-19 safety protocols and slight modifications to the rites themselves.
Members of the faithful who are planning on attending an Easter Mass or any of the Holy Week liturgies at a church in the Diocese are strongly advised to visit the parish website or check its bulletin for the schedule and for registration requirements.
Of primary concern and importance, as it has been throughout the pandemic, is safeguarding the welfare and health of those parishioners who choose to gather for in-person worship in a parish church.
State restrictions on church occupancy remain in effect along with the requirement for a record of attendees for contact tracing information should the need arise because of a virus outbreak. Parishes continue to require that parishioners sign up for any Mass they wish to attend. In almost all parishes, registration for Holy Week services and Easter Masses may be done either online via its website or by calling the parish office. A searchable listing of all parishes in the Fall River Diocese is available here along with links to their websites.
All the safety measures for attending Mass must be followed: Congregants must wear a mask for the entirety of the service unless unable because of a medical condition or if under the age of two, and a distance of six feet will separate seating except for members of the same household.
Regarding the liturgies, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., has issued diocesan guidelines for the celebration of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum that outline a few changes that are to be observed for this year only. The guidelines follow direction from the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship.
- Palm Sunday: In parish churches, the third form of the Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem will be used without a procession. Care must be practiced in the distribution of palms, the specific manner of which is left to the discretion of the pastor.
- Holy Thursday: The washing of the feet is to be omitted as is the procession at the end of the Mass. The Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the tabernacle, and churches may remain open for adoration for a brief period of time following the Mass.
- Good Friday: The adoration of the Cross by kissing it shall be limited solely to the celebrant. The congregation may be invited to venerate the Cross from their places by a genuflection or a bow. The following special intention may be added to the litany of special prayers: For all who suffer in mind, body or spirit as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and for those who care for them, may the healing power of the Crucified come upon them and bring them comfort and peace.
The celebration of Jesus’ rising from death to new life on Easter makes it the greatest and most joyful feast of the church year. Vulnerable, at-risk, or otherwise concerned persons who choose not to attend Easter Mass in-person are encouraged to take part in a Mass offered on television or online. Almost all parishes in the Fall River Diocese livestream their Masses, and many post them on their website for viewing at other times.
In addition, Bishop da Cunha will celebrate an expanded Diocesan Television Mass on Easter Sunday at a special time, 12 noon on WLNE-TV, Channel 6. Masses for the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday are also aired on at different times on Catholic cable television networks like Catholic TV and EWTN.