Lenten regulations and admonitions

Liturgical Commission
Key Contacts

Liturgical Commission Chair
Rev. Daniel Merz

Alphonse J. Schwartze Memorial Catholic Center
2207 West Main St
Jefferson City, MO 65109-0914

Members of the Liturgical Commission 

  • Rev. Daniel Merz – St. Thomas More Newman Center, Columbia (pastor); chairman
  • Rev. Louis Dorn – retired
  • Rev. Jeremy Secrist – St. Peter Parish, Jefferson City (pastor and liaison for the oversight and care of organs)
  • Rev. Joshua Duncan – St. Mary Parish, Glasgow; St. Joseph Parish, Fayette (parochial administrator; master of ceremonies to the bishop)
  • Deacon Enrique Castro – director, diocesan Office of Hispanic and Cross-Cultural Ministry
  • Deacon John L. Neudecker – St. Peter Parish, Fulton
  • Tom Halpin – music director,  Cathedral of St. Joseph, Jefferson City
  • Kimberley Luebbert – music director, Immaculate Conception, Jefferson City
  • Mark Sievers – Immaculate Conception Parish, St. James (art & environment)
  • Dr. Kevin Myers, DWS – St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish, Columbia

RCIA Subcommittee Members

  • Deacon Kenneth Berry- St. Joseph Parish, Edina
  • Lisa Rose- St. Thomas More Newman Center, Columbia

As another Lenten journey of conversion begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 17, and ends with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 1, Holy Mother Church calls all Catholics to a deeper spirit of penance, fasting, almsgiving and prayer, “which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Nos. 1434 and 1969).

To foster a greater spirit of penance, of reparation for sin, to encourage self-denial, and so guide us more closely in the footsteps of Christ, Holy Mother Church reminds us of the following obligations of fast and abstinence during Lent and also admonishes us all to deeper prayer and worship.

  1. Abstinence: all persons who have already celebrated their 14th birthday are bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays of Lent and Good Friday.
  1. Fasting: everyone, from the celebration of their 18th birthday to their 59th birthday, is bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is generally understood to mean eating only one full meal each day. Two other partial meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken; but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. Voluntary fasting on other weekdays of Lent is highly recommended. But please note: when health or ability to work would be seriously affected, neither the law of fasting nor the law of abstinence obliges. These are minimal penitential practices and should not be lightly excused. If in doubt, please consult your parish priest. Other recommended forms of fasting, as regards alcoholic drink, needless television, video games, internet use, and social entertainment, are of true spiritual value and strongly encouraged.
  2. Almsgiving: The act of giving to the poor, in the most ancient tradition of the Church, is an expression of penance, a witness of fraternal charity, and an expression of Lenten conversion. Therefore, all Catholics are encouraged to support generously the charitable works of the whole Church: through regular stewardship to their parish, support of charities, and their generous response to the diocesan Catholic Stewardship Appeal.
  3. Prayer: In order to deepen one’s love for Christ, Catholics are urged all the more to participate in the sacramental life of the Church during Lent by attending daily Mass and frequenting the sacrament of Penance.

Liturgical services during Lent

Distribution of Ashes on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 17) During this time of pandemic, the Holy See has modified the method of distributing the ashes, as outlined in the following “Note”: The Priest says the prayer for blessing the ashes. He sprinkles the ashes with holy water, without saying anything. Then he addresses all those present and only once says the formula as it appears in the Roman Missal, applying it to all in general: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”, or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. The Priest then cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask and distributes the ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places. The Priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one without saying anything. Notice there is to be no touching the forehead.

Because this is a change in the custom for ashes in our country, this should be explained to the assembly beforehand. The distribution takes place at the normal time after the homily, though it can also be done outside of Mass with a word service.

The Rite of Election (Feb. 21, 3 pm, Cathedral) The Rite of Election will take place on the First Sunday of Lent, but it will be restricted to catechumens/candidates, their sponsors, and the Parish RCIA coordinator to allow for social distancing in the Cathedral.

Palms on Palm Sunday (March 28) Because palms are given once to individuals to be kept by them, Bishop McKnight is permitting the use of palms this year for Palm Sunday. Good practice would be for the palms to be distributed by members of the faithful who are masked and wearing gloves. The palms could be sanitized once before distribution begins.

Chrism Mass (Tuesday, March 30) The Thursday before Holy Thursday this year falls on March 25, and because the Solemnity of the Annunciation outranks the Chrism Mass, the Chrism Mass has been moved to Tuesday of Holy Week.

Holy Thursday Per the rubrics, the foot washing on Holy Thursday is optional.  Therefore, it is recommended during the pandemic that the foot washing be omitted for this year.

Holy Thursday Adoration: The Roman Missal for Holy Thursday states: "The faithful are invited to continue adoration before the Blessed Sacrament for a suitable length of time during the night, according to local circumstances, but after midnight the adoration should take place without solemnity."

Thus, adoration may continue during the night but not "solemn adoration." This interpretation is confirmed by other documents such as the Directory of Popular Piety and a circular letter on the celebration of the Easter solemnities published by the Holy See in 1988. No. 56 of this letter states: "Where appropriate, this prolonged Eucharistic adoration may be accompanied by the reading of some part of the gospel of Saint John (ch. 13-17). From midnight onward, however, the adoration should be made without external solemnity, for the day of the Lord's passion has begun."

The practice of withdrawing the Blessed Sacrament to the sacristy safe is not a correct interpretation of the norms of the Roman Missal. Even if local circumstances don't allow for the church to remain open after midnight, the Blessed Sacrament should remain on the altar of repose until the moment of Holy Communion during the Good Friday rites.

Finally, all the documents recall that it is totally forbidden to expose the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance at any moment of Holy Thursday, especially for the Eucharistic procession.

Good Friday Services: “This liturgy by its very nature may not, however, be celebrated in the absence of a priest.” (Roman Missal rubric for Good Friday) Thus, a deacon alone may not preside, though he could proclaim the part of Christ in the Passion and preach the homily.

  1. During the prostration, at the start of the liturgy, only the priest and deacon (if they are able) prostrate. Other ministers and the faithful kneel.
  2. For the Adoration of the Cross this year in the pandemic, the assembly should be instructed to approach the cross (a crucifix is recommended, but not required) and either bow or genuflect, but not to kiss or otherwise touch the cross.
  3. During the unveiling of the cross (which may be a plain cross, though the church has a long custom of using a crucifix), the singing of “Behold the wood of the Cross” is done by the priest, but he may be assisted in this singing by the deacon, or even the cantor or choir.
  4. Musical instruments should only be used to support singing and should be subdued.
  5. An expanded rubric in the new Missal states that, “After the celebration, the altar is stripped, but the Cross remains on the altar with two or four candlesticks.” (emphasis added) Candles are always a sign of presence. In the absence of the Blessed Sacrament, the cross becomes the sacramental presence in the church, which is why we genuflect to it and why we keep candles burning around it.

Timing of the Easter Vigil: According to U.S. Naval Oceanography tables, astronomical twilight, defined as that point in the evening when the sun does not contribute to sky illumination, will occur in Jefferson City on Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 8:32 pm. Thus, the vigil should appropriately begin no earlier than 8:30 pm.

Easter Duty: All Catholics who have been initiated into the Holy Eucharist are bound to receive Holy Communion worthily at least once during Easter Time. Of course, Catholics are encouraged to receive Communion as often as possible, not only during Eastertide. However, anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before approaching to receive Holy Communion.

Celebrating the Sacraments during Lent

Baptism: Infants are properly baptized on Easter Sunday or throughout Easter Time.

Any persons who were baptized Catholic but never catechized and who now wish to receive the sacrament of Confirmation, may be confirmed by a priest only if written delegation is given to the priest by the diocesan bishop. The bishop encourages their confirmation to be celebrated at a different time from the Easter Vigil (see National Statutes for Catechumenate, no. 26), but he leaves it to your pastoral judgment. The priest is asked to contact Bishop McKnight in writing well in advance of the Easter Vigil outlining the candidate’s full name; the date and church of Baptism, and explain the reason for this request. Bishop McKnight will gladly consider each pastoral request on an individual basis.

Lent is also a privileged time for celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation, including its communal celebration. At communal celebrations of Reconciliation, however, general absolution is not permitted by the law of the church.

Regarding the sacrament of Penance for baptized adults seeking full communion with the church, any previously baptized adult to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church should appropriately celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation before the Easter Vigil.

Wedding Masses may not be celebrated during the Easter Triduum, on the Sundays of Lent, Ash Wednesday, or during Holy Week. Marriages that do take place at other times during Lent should be according to the proper liturgical norms and provisions, mindful of the penitential spirit of the season. Please note that according to the instructions given in the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the Gloria is to be sung, or at the very least, recited at all wedding Masses, including those celebrated during Lent.

Funeral Masses may not be celebrated on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, or Holy Saturday, nor on the Sundays of Lent. When pastoral reasons require that a funeral be celebrated on these days, a Liturgy of the Word with the final commendation is to be held.

Lenten practices

Musical Instruments during Advent and Lent: The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2011) states in no. 313: “In Advent the use of the organ and other musical instruments should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord.

“In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and feasts.”

Covering of crosses and images in Lent: From a rubric of the Roman Missal for the Fifth Sunday of Lent: “In the Dioceses of the United States, the practice of covering crosses and images throughout the church from this Sunday of Lent may be observed. Crosses remain covered until the end of the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, but images remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.”

Neither the Stations of the Cross nor stained glass windows are ever veiled. The veils are usually made of lightweight purple cloth without any decoration.

Holy Oils: The Catholic Center will happily accept bottles from last year's holy oils, but they must be empty and properly cleaned. The best way to dispose of the oils on your own is to burn them (e.g., in the Easter fire at the Vigil) or to bury them on blessed land. The bottles should be washed (using lemon juice is advised) and the water poured down the sacrarium.

Avoid requesting too much oil for display in larger ambries. Displaying oil that will not be used is not the intent of holy oils. If you get a larger container, then please make liberal use of it in the sacraments!

The holy oils are to be kept with care and in a fitting manner. Reverent and safe custody of the holy oils includes keeping them sealed so that they will not be corrupted by foreign objects and in a locked place where they will not be profaned.

On the use of holy water during Lent: The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments has stated (3/14/03: Prot. N. 569/00/L): "This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of holy water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:

"1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being 'praeter legem' is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.

"2. The encouragement of the church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the sacraments is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The 'fast' and 'abstinence' which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the church.

"The practice of the church has been to empty the holy water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday)."