SCRANTON – Parishes around the Diocese of Scranton are busy preparing for Holy Week Masses and services. The faithful are invited and encouraged to attend Holy Week and Easter Masses to experience the joy, hope and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Despite the good news of effective vaccines for COVID-19, safety protocols will remain in place for the remainder of Lent, the Sacred Paschal Triduum and Easter Sunday. The faithful are reminded that the obligation to attend Sunday and Holy Day Masses remains suspended by Bishop Joseph C. Bambera until further notice.
For those attending Masses, parishioners will be required to wear properly-fitting face coverings, remain physically distant from other individuals and practice good hand hygiene. Parishioners who feel ill or suspect they (or another immediate family member) may be infected with the coronavirus are urged to stay home and participate in online/broadcast services to protect others.
The Diocese of Scranton has released a comprehensive set of liturgical directives for parishes. The protocols are all available on the Diocese of Scranton website.
Parishes have been encouraged to pay special attention to the length of Holy Week liturgies and take great care in developing plans to welcome the faithful on Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Some parishes have decided to take reservations while others plan to utilize overflow areas with livestream/broadcast capabilities.
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Diocese of Scranton will resume the practice of providing blessed palms to the faithful this year.
While parishes are responsible for developing a safe and effective method of distribution, the faithful are reminded of the importance of maintaining a proper six-foot physical distance while receiving palms.
The Diocese of Scranton has also directed that the Passion should be proclaimed in a format that does not require the use of missalettes by the assembly.
Individual pamphlets or bulletins that include the readings may be distributed but must be taken by the faithful after Mass or discarded and not reused for another Mass.
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Bishop Bambera is planning to celebrate the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, March 30, at 4:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter.
Due to seating limitations, the Mass will be open to invited guests only.
The faithful from across the 11-county Diocese are invited to participate in the Chrism Mass via a live broadcast on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton. The Chrism Mass will also be livestream to the Diocese of Scranton website with a link made available on all Diocesan social media platforms.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
This year, the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper will look different in the Diocese of Scranton but its significance will not change.
Due to health and safety concerns, the washing of the feet will not take place this year. Traditionally, the bishop/priest would wash the feet of twelve individuals.
At the end of the Mass, a simple transfer of the Eucharist may take place. The Diocese has directed that the transfer needs to remain indoors and not involve movement of the assembly. The transfer can, however, involve the priest and an adult attendant carrying incense.
Adoration by the faithful at the place of reposition may follow but parish leaders must ensure that all safety precautions, including physical distancing and mask wearing are followed.
Friday, April 2, 2021
Similar to Palm Sunday, the Passion should be proclaimed in a format that does not require the use of missalettes by the faithful. Pamphlets or bulletins that include the readings may be distributed but should be taken home by the faithful or discarded.
On Good Friday, due to health and safety measures, the faithful are being asked not to approach the Cross for private adoration, such as kissing. After physically venerating the Cross himself, a priest is welcome to hold the Cross before the faithful and invite them to adore the Holy Cross in silence.
Saturday, April 3, 2021
The Blessing of the Fire and Preparation of the Paschal Candle may take place. Even though outside, only a small group such as the RCIA catechumens/candidates, along with the priest and an adult server/attendant may gather around the fire. Everyone participating must also be masked and remain physically distant from one another, especially when processing inside the church.
It is extremely important that parishes not use congregational tapers during the Easter Vigil because blowing them out would require everyone to lower their masks and exhale at the same time.
If catechumens and candidates are being fully initiated/received into the Church and confirmed at the Easter Vigil, care must be taken that the priest celebrates these rites safely, including using fresh water for each baptism and/or the use of a separate instrument to anoint an individual with Chrism.
Sunday, April 4, 2021
If it answers a pastoral need, parishes can add additional Masses on Easter Sunday.
Weather permitting, parishes may consider holding outdoor Masses on Easter Sunday if it has already been parish practice last fall.
Liturgical music should continue to be done simply, without large choirs, and the assembly is once again advised that singing is still not recommended at this point, even with a mask.
The faithful can be sprinkled with holy water following the Renewal of Baptismal Promises. Fresh water in a separate container should be used and blessed for this sprinkling.