Dear Friends in Christ.
We are about to celebrate the Great week of our Salvation in Christ. In the saving death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus we are unbound from death and set free from sin. Yet this Holy Week will be unlike any other. This year we celebrate without public liturgies.
I am writing to you about what is happening for Holy Week here in Canterbury. The members of our RCIA group have been looking forward to receiving the fullness of the sacraments at the Easter Vigil on Saturday 11th April. Sadly this will not be happening. The celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation and celebration of Confirmation and First Communion will have to be deferred. There have been two decrees issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome concerning this year’s celebration of Holy Week and Easter in the context of COVID-19. We will be celebrating the various events of Holy Week without a congregation and therefore, these be much more scaled down events. At present I am not feeling A1 so during this past week Canon John and Fr Sylvester have been celebrating Mass alone.
- Palm Sunday 5th April: – The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated within St Thomas without a congregation. The third form given in the Roman Missal is to be adopted. There is no blessing of Palms;
- Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, Mass will take place;
- Wednesday 8th April The Chrism Mass – The Archbishop has said that the Chrism Mass will be deferred;
- Thursday 9th April Holy Thursday – We will be celebrating the Mass of the Lords Supper in the evening at St Thomas without a congregation. The washing of feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted. At the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the procession is also omitted and the Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the tabernacle. The Archbishop has asked that priests make a Personal Renewal of Priestly Commitment;
- Good Friday 10th April – The afternoon Liturgy will take place without a congregation. The Holy Father has decreed that a special intention (for the afflicted in time of Pandemic) be included. The adoration of the Cross by kissing it shall be limited solely to the celebrant;
- The Easter Vigil 11th April– Will be celebrated in St Thomas without a congregation. Sadly there will be no Baptisms during the vigil. For the “Baptismal Liturgy” only the “Renewal of Baptismal Promises” is maintained. The Sacraments of Initiation and Receptions into the Church will sadly not take place this Easter and will therefore need to be deferred;
- Mass of Easter Day: We will be celebrating Mass for you on this day.
Live streaming of Watching on Holy Thursday will be available from St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham. Other places where there is live streaming:
In his message to the priests sent on Friday Archbishop John Wilson shared the following;
I read recently these words from a paschal homily by St Gregory Nazianzus, which both challenged and comforted me. They invite us to enter into the drama of Holy Week and make it our own: If you are a Simon of Cyrene; take up your cross and follow Christ. If you are crucified beside him like one of the thieves, now, like the good thief, acknowledge your God. For your sake, and because of your sin, Christ himself was regarded as a sinner; for his sake, therefore, you must cease to sin. Worship him who was hung on the cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself. Derive some benefit from the very shame; purchase salvation with your death. Enter paradise with Jesus, and discover how far you have fallen. Contemplate the glories there, and leave the other scoffing thief to die outside in his blasphemy. If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who ordered his crucifixion, and ask for Christ’s body. Make you own the expiation for the sins of the whole world. If you are a Nicodemus, like the man who worshipped God by night, bring spices and prepare Christ’s body for burial. If you are one of the Marys, or Salome, or Joanna, weep in the early morning. Be the first to see the stone rolled back, and even the angels perhaps, and Jesus himself.
Do pray for Archbishop John
Fr Sylvester and Canon John send their love and prayers to you at this time.
Please remember us all in your prayers