Celebrating the Triduum in the time of COVID-19

Barb Arland-Fye
Bishop Thomas Zinkula will preside at Triduum liturgies April 9-11 at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Davenport. His concelebrants will be Father Scott Foley, left, (the parish’s parochial vicar) and Father Tony Herold, center (the parish’s pastor). The celebrations will be live streamed because public celebrations of the Mass have been canceled to help mitigate spread of the corornavirus.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Catholics in the Diocese of Davenport and around the world will celebrate the Easter Triduum, the feast of feasts in the church’s liturgical calendar, in an extraordinary way this year: watching it on a video monitor. The COVID-19 pandemic requires a novel approach to a celebration that simply can’t be postponed.

“Easter is at the heart of the entire liturgical year and is not simply one feast among others. The Easter Triduum is celebrated over the arc of three days, which is preceded by Lent and crowned by Pentecost and, therefore, cannot be transferred to another time,” according to the Vatican “Decree in the Time of COVID-19” (CNS, March 20, 2020).

Public celebration of the Mass has been cancelled in the Diocese of Davenport and elsewhere until further notice in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. The cancelation has led to a proliferation of liturgy and prayer services live streamed into people’s homes via electronic media. Pope Francis has embraced that technology in his celebration of the liturgies in Italy, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.


The Vatican decree instructs bishops to ensure that Holy Week liturgies are celebrated in the cathedral and parish churches and to inform the faithful of the times for the celebrations so they may “pray at home at the same time.”

Bishop Thomas Zinkula will celebrate the liturgies of the Triduum for the Diocese of Davenport at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Davenport. The liturgies will be live streamed via the parish’s Facebook page. Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, will be celebrated at 6:30 p.m. April 9; Good Friday, Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at 3 p.m. April 10; and the Easter Vigil at 8:30 p.m. April 11. Go to https://www.facebook.com/stpauldisciples/. (For a list of other parishes in the diocese planning to live stream Triduum liturgies, click HERE.)

St. Paul the Apostle has experience with live streaming liturgies and other prayer services, said Father Tony Herold, the parish’s pastor. He and Father Scott Foley, the parish’s parochial vicar, will concelebrate the liturgies with Bishop Zinkula. Deacon Frank Agnoli and Deacon David Mont­gomery will serve. Three seminarians living at the Chancery temporarily as a result of their seminary’s closure because of the pandemic, will assist. Deacon candidate Ryan Burchett, a parishioner, will live stream the video. Gatherings are limited to 10 persons as part of the effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

According to directives from the Holy See, palms are not to be blessed or distributed at parishes. Otherwise, the liturgy is celebrated as usual.


During Holy Week, various communities celebrate a variety of popular devotions connected to the Passion of our Lord, such as the Stations of the Cross. Some parishes are celebrating these virtually. Another option to consider is to postpone their celebration until the time around September 14-15, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows.


If the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated, the washing of the feet and the procession of the Blessed Sacrament to a separate place of reposition are omitted. The Blessed Sacrament is simply kept in the tabernacle. On this day the faculty to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the presence of the people, is exceptionally granted to all priests. Priests who do not celebrate this Mass are to pray Vespers for this day.


If celebrated, the liturgy of the Passion of the Lord is celebrated in its entirety. The decree directs the local bishop to add an intention to the Universal Prayer for the sick, the dying, and all who are dismayed.


A number of modifications will be made to the celebration of the Vigil. Most notably, there will be no fire to be blessed; instead, the Paschal Candle is simply lit at the start of the liturgy. The font and water are not blessed, but the baptismal promises are renewed. Priests who are unable to celebrate the Vigil are to pray the Office of Readings for Easter Sunday instead.

Sacraments of Initiation

Candidates for Full Communion/Catholics Com­pleting Initiation

The Reception of Candidates for full communion and the completion of initiation of those already baptized as Catholics is not tied to the Easter Vigil. This rite will be celebrated as soon as possible after the faithful are able to gather again for the liturgy.

The Elect

According to RCIA #26-30, in extraordinary circumstances, a day other than the Easter Vigil may be chosen for the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation. At this point in time, Bishop Thomas Zinkula is not ready to set a specific date; there are too many unknowns.

In the absence of a priest, religious communities are to follow their own customs regarding the Liturgy of the Hours and devotional prayer. As a reminder, the Good Friday liturgy as given in the Missal may only be led by a priest.

Guides for celebrating Holy Week and the Triduum are available on the diocesan website: https://www.davenportdiocese.org/documents/2020/3/Holy_Week_at_Home.pdf

Observing Holy Week at Home

Families may be encouraged to participate in the Stations of the Cross online or on TV. In addition, they may do the same as a family at home.

Observing Holy Thursday at Home
In addition to joining in prayer at the time of the parish’s Mass, or participating in it by electronic means, families may want to consider other ways to observe this day as well:
• Baking bread as a family.
• Reading the Gospel account together and then washing one another’s feet before supper.

Observing Good Friday at Home
In addition to joining in prayer at the time of the parish’s liturgy, or participating in it by electronic means, families may want to consider other ways to observe this day as well:
• Reading the Passion
• Venerating the Cross
• Praying the Solemn Intercessions

Observing the Easter Vigil at Home
In addition to joining in prayer at the time of the parish’s Mass, or participating in it by electronic means, families may want to consider other ways to observe this day as well:
• Keeping the house dark, and lighting candles
• Praying the Exsultet together
• Reading the Vigil readings together or pray the Office of Readings
• Singing the Gloria while ringing bells
• Renewing their baptismal promises
• Blessing one another with water
• Pulling out and displaying mementos of their baptisms

Source: Deacon Frank Agnoli, diocesan director of liturgy. For more information, visit http://www. davenportdiocese.org/prayer-and-support

Chrism Mass April 6

Bishop Thomas Zinkula will celebrate the Chrism Mass at 10 a.m. April 6 at the Chancery in Davenport. The liturgy will be live streamed from the Chancery at https://www.youtube.com/user/dioceseofdavenport. The bishop will consecrate the Sacred Chrism and bless the oil of the sick and oil of the catechumens for use in the local church’s sacraments during the following year.


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