Office of Liturgy

Guidelines for the Celebration of Holy Week for Priests and Liturgists for 2021

We are still facing the drama of the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought many changes, even to our normal way of celebrating the liturgy. The norms and directives contained in the liturgical books, drawn up with normal times in view, are not entirely applicable in exceptional moments of crisis such as these. For this reason, the Bishop of San Jose in California, sets the following guidelines in order that the liturgy can be celebrated fruitfully for the People of God and for the good of the souls entrusted to his care, while respecting the safeguarding of health and what have been prescribed by the authorities responsible for the common good.

Chrism Mass 2021

The Chrism Mass
All of the priests of the diocese gather together on March 23, 2021 at 5:00 PM in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, to renew their priestly promises, their fidelity to the Bishop and to Jesus Christ. The bishop will consecrate the sacred Chrism and bless the oils used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders. The holy oils serve as an expression of the Church’s unity, guaranteed by the episcopate, pointing to Christ, the true ‘shepherd and guardian’ of our souls.

Because of limited seating restrictions, each parish will send one lay representative to participate and receive its annual supply of oils.

Please see your pastor for the registration link.  Seats are limited.

Palm Sunday

Sources: General Instruction of the Roman Missal; Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments; United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commission; Diocese of El Paso; Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Palm Sunday
The preferred guidance continues to be not to hand out anything in order to maintain at least 6 feet social distance. Palms may be placed in a location like a table (at least 2 tables at every entrance) to avoid personal contact, but a volunteer is needed to ensure that people are not congregating too close and are maintaining 6 ft distance form each other when picking up the palms that are laid out on the table. Likewise, people may be encouraged to bring a leafy branch from home.

The blessing of palms is done with the proper prayer of blessing assigned in the Roman Missal without using the aspergillum or other instrument to bless them with holy water.

The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated within sacred buildings; in Cathedral and parish churches the Second Form given in the Roman Missal is to be adopted for either indoor or outdoor service.

For Drive-in Masses, the Third Form given in the Roman Missal is to be used.

Holy Week

Sources: General Instruction of the Roman Missal; Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments; United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commission; Diocese of El Paso; Archdiocese of Los Angeles. 

Holy Thursday
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 to the Altar of Repose is conducted only by the priest accompanied by cross bearer, two candle bearer and incense bearer (thurifer). The place of reposition must allow proper ventilation and six feet distance for those who will stay for adoration. The parish may set a shorter time for quiet adoration of the faithful.

At an appropriate time, the altar is stripped. It is necessary that any crosses which remain in the church be veiled.

Good Friday
In the Universal Prayer or Solemn Intercession, Bishop Cantu will arrange to have a special intention added.

The Adoration of the Holy Cross by kissing it shall be limited solely to the celebrant. The Second Form is to be adopted. The priest or deacon who carries the cross in procession, will say, “Behold the wood of the Cross,” to which all respond, “Come, let us adore.” After Each response, all may kneel or remain standing and for a brief moment to adore in silence.

The Easter Vigil
The Easter Vigil, “the mother of all vigils,” is to be celebrated only in the Cathedral and parish churches. If the Easter vigil is to be celebrated indoor, the vigil can begin at 8:00 PM or after nightfall. If the Easter vigil is to be celebrated outdoor, the vigil must begin no earlier than 4:00 PM.

Candles may be placed in a location like a table (at least 2 tables at every entrance) to avoid personal contact, but a volunteer is needed to ensure that people are not congregating too close and are maintaining 6 ft distance form each other when picking up the candles that are laid out on the table.

The Blessing of the Fire and Preparation of the Paschal Candle is to be done by the celebrant with a limited number of the faithful so that proper social distancing is observed. The rest of the faithful may already be seated inside the church.

For the third part of the Easter Vigil, the Baptismal liturgy, the baptismal font should remain empty. Water to be used in the baptism of those receiving the Sacraments of Initiation should be prepared in a pitcher. If the font contains a drain, the baptism can happen over the font. Otherwise, a basin should be prepared, and the water it gathers during the baptism should be disposed of in the ground. No baptismal immersion is allowed at this time.

During the blessing of water, the priest should not touch the water, but stretch his hands over it. The Paschal Candle should not be lowered as part of the blessing. The sprinkling of water during the renewal of baptismal promises should not be used at this time.

At the moment of Baptism, each elect approaches the font separately. The godparent may stand a few feet next to the elect, while the priest pours the water from the pitcher. Different towel should be used to dry each elect.

For the clothing with a white garment, the newly baptized should be advised to wear their “Sunday’s best” attire prior to baptism, but the explanation given in the rite should still be said.

For the presentation of a lighted candle, each elect will light their candle from the Paschal Candle one at a time. And for the conferral of the Sacrament of Confirmation, the laying on of hands is done not to individual candidates but to all with the minister of confirmation extending his hands over the candidates while saying the prayer.

At the anointing of Sacred Chrism, the priest goes to the newly baptized, and using a cotton ball or cotton swab (Dubium, 2 June 2020) anoints the candidate with Chrism. Such instruments must be then collected for burning later.

For the reception of the Holy Eucharist, each candidate receives communion in the manner prescribed for all Masses as adopted by each parish during this time of pandemic.

Sundays of Easter

The Sundays of Easter
During the Sundays of Easter, it is customary that the Penitential Act is replaced or after the Renewal of Baptismal Promises, the blessing and sprinkling of water takes place as a reminder of Baptism. The Rite of Sprinkling of Holy Water is omitted during this time.

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