Prot. No. CM038/2020
Regarding the Suspension of Holy Week Rites
During the Outbreak of COVID-19
The Decree entitled “In Time of Covid-19” issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Prot. No. 153/20 dated 19 March 2020 (translated by Rev. Thatsanai Khomkrit into the Thai language), has conferred to the Bishop of each Diocese the responsibility to assess the situation and decide accordingly.
And in Thailand, the government has decreed the entire nation under the state of emergency. This decree prohibits people from leaving their place of residence for 1 month which is enforced from March 26 to April 30, 2020. This means that our dear brothers and sisters are restricted from going out of their homes.
As a consequence, we declare that all daily masses and liturgical celebrations for the faithful during Holy Week are suspended. However, our brother priests are allowed to celebrate the rites of the Holy Week in private and issue an announcement to the faithful so that they could follow the celebrations through online media. Due to the aforementioned reasons, the ordinary of the Chiang Mai Diocese has promulgated the following guidelines regarding the rites of the Holy Week:
1. On Palm Sunday (5 April 2020), all Masses are suspended.
2. On Holy Wednesday (8 April 2020), all rites are suspended:
a. The blessing of oil and consecration of chrism and the renewal of priestly commitment are to be postponed to another date since priests would have to travel from faraway places. The Diocese will announce the specified date and time for holding these rites later;
b.For the distribution of Paschal candles, the Diocese will try to deliver them to every parish through the zone coordinators.
3. For the Paschal Triduum:
a.Priests are allowed to celebrate the liturgy in private (without the presence of the congregation);
b. There should be an announcement to inform the faithful about the live broadcasting of the celebration via live-streaming or through television (but without recording it).
4. The rites on Holy Thursday:
a. Priests are allowed to celebrate the liturgy in private (without the presence of the congregation);
b.The Washing of the Feet is to be omitted;
c. The Blessed Sacrament will not be kept at a place of reposition (a place where the Blessed Sacrament is usually kept after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in accordance
d. We would like to strongly emphasize that priests who are unable to celebrate Mass should pray the Vespers of that day as a substitute.
5. The rites on Good Friday:
a. Priests are allowed to celebrate the liturgy but there should be an assurance that safety standards for the protection against the virus are actually in place;
b.In the prayers of the faithful, special intentions for the afflicted and the deceased, medical doctors, nurses and other personnel who dedicate their lives working for the people during these trying times should be included.
6. The rites on Holy Saturday:
a. Priests are allowed to celebrate the liturgy but there should be an assurance that safety standards for the protection against the virus are actually in place.
b. The lighting and blessing of the fire is to be omitted.
c. The Paschal candle is to be lit but the procession of the Paschal candle is to be omitted;
d. The Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) could be delivered to be followed by the Liturgy of the Word;
e. For the Baptismal Liturgy, only the “Renewal of Baptismal Promises” is maintained to be followed by the Eucharistic Celebration.
f. The faithful and priests who are unable to participate in the liturgical celebration should pray the Liturgy of the Hours using the readings of Easter Sunday as a substitute.
7. For Easter Sunday, we would like to strongly emphasize that Easter is the heart of all these liturgical celebrations and it is not just one of the feast days or holidays. As such, it may not be possible to postpone Easter at a later date.
We request our dear brother priests and lay Catholics to observe and follow this announcement starting the 26th of March until the 30th of April 2020 or until further announcements or notice of changes are made known to everyone by the Chiang Mai Diocese.
We implore God, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary and Saint Francis Xavier, to grant all of US His gracious aid and protection from all forms of physical and spiritual diseases and illnesses.
Dated 26th March 2020
+ Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana
Bishop of Chiang Mai Diocese
Rev. Saravuth Haeto
Chancellor of Chiang Mai Diocese