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Lent, Holy Week and the Easter Triduum 2021

Decree by Bishop W. Shawn McKnight

Whereas the common good demands that the public health requirements and recommendations of the state are to be observed whenever possible; and

Whereas the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has issued a NOTE (N. 96/21) renewing the mandate given in the previous year to guide Diocesan Bishops in their task of providing for the spiritual welfare of pastors and faithful for the celebrations surrounding Holy Week;

I therefore decree, as the Diocesan Bishop, the following:

  1. All dispensations, obligations and guidance of the previous DECREE of 21 August 2020, as modified by the DECREE of 11 November 2020, remain in effect except for the following:
  2. Parish communal penance services and other seasonal services (e.g., Stations of the Cross, Eucharistic Adoration, rosaries and novenas) may be celebrated while following all the normal protocols for social distancing and/or the wearing of face coverings.
  3. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass in person on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation continues for all the faithful of the Diocese of Jefferson City and those who are present in the territory of the Diocese, provided that for days of precept they do one of the following:
    1. Prayerfully participate in the Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation Mass live streamed from their parish church or chapel, the Cathedral, the Vatican, or of any Mass of the day celebrated in communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
    2. Prayerfully read and meditate on the readings of the Mass for the Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation, and recite the rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet.
  4. The faithful still have the obligation to keep the Lord’s Day holy and “to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2185)
  5. Parishes are highly encouraged to live stream Masses for Sundays, Holy Days of Obligation, and Holy Week liturgies to maintain a pastoral connection with their parishioners during and after the pandemic.
  6. The Chrism Mass will be live streamed from the Cathedral on Tuesday March 30 at 10:00 am, with clergy participating. Any faithful unable to attend are encouraged to participate spiritually by watching the live stream of this Mass which celebrates our unity as a priestly people. Priests of the diocese will renew their priestly promises at this Mass.
  7. On Palm Sunday, the commemoration of the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated.  Parish priests will use their pastoral judgment in choosing whether the second form (solemn entrance) or third form (simple entrance) as given in the Roman Missal is to be adopted. Blessed palms may be made available this year for the benefit of the faithful. Care should be taken that this distribution is done with safety precautions.
  8. For the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 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 with the Blessed Sacrament may take place (the use of a monstrance is strictly prohibited), but the place of reservation of the Blessed Sacrament after the procession should be the normal place where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved throughout the year (no special altar of repose).  On this day the faculty to celebrate Mass in the parish church or a chapel, without the presence of the people, is exceptionally granted to all priests.
  9. On Good Friday, the addition of the following intention is to be added:

XI. For an end to the pandemic

Let us pray, dearly beloved, for a swift end
to the coronavirus pandemic that afflicts our world,
that our God and Father will heal the sick,
strengthen those who care for them,
and help us all to persevere in faith.

Prayer in silence. Then the Celebrant says:

Almighty and merciful God,
source of all life, health and healing,
look with compassion on our world, brought low by disease;
protect us in the midst of the grave challenges that assail us
and in your fatherly providence
grant recovery to the stricken,
strength to those who care for them,
and success to those working to eradicate this scourge.
Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

10. The adoration of the Cross by a kiss shall be limited solely to the celebrant. The faithful who come forward to adore may individually genuflect or bow to the Cross (which may be a crucifix).

11. The Easter Vigil is to be celebrated only in the Cathedral and parish churches. A simplified lucenarium may take place with the blessing of the fire and the candle inside the church; or a representative group of the faithful (for the purpose of social distancing) may join the celebrant outside for the blessing of the fire, lighting of the candle, and procession into the church.  The incensation of the paschal candle and chanting of the Exsultet follow. For the “Baptismal Liturgy,” each Baptism should be done using a fresh pouring of water (not by dipping into the font). When confirming, the ministering Priest shall sanitize his thumb after each Confirmation. Holy Communion for those initiated may be given under both species only if there is a small enough number to accommodate a separate chalice for each one.  Pastoral judgment should be used. For the Renewal of Baptismal Promises, the rite as presented in the Roman Missal may be used.

12. Congregational singing is allowed only at the permission of the Pastor, taking into account the safety of the faithful and the capacity for having adequate safeguards in place in accord with local health directives.

13. Persons, whether Catechumens or not, who are in danger of death but are not at the point of death and so are able to hear and answer the questions involved, may be baptized with the shorter rite in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (cf. “Christian Initiation of a Person in Danger of Death”). If they are at the point of death, “Christian Initiation for the Dying” in the Pastoral Care of the Sick is to be observed (cf. no. 277). Candidates for full communion who are in danger of death may be received into full communion, confirmed and given First Communion immediately, even outside of Mass, with the celebration of the Rite of Penance beforehand.

This decree is effective from 5 March 2021 and until further notice, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.



Most Rev. W. Shawn McKnight
Bishop of Jefferson City