Coronavirus Emergency and the Celebration of Holy Week and Easter

My Dear Friends in Christ:

It is heartbreaking to announce that my previous decree suspending public celebrations of the Sacrifice of the Mass and other public sacramental rites must continue into the sacred celebrations of Holy Week and Easter.

Holy Week and Easter will go on. The saving mystery of the Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus is our Springtime. His joy and hope are the Paschal Fire that dispels the darkness of sin and the threatening gloom of this pandemic. The saving work of Jesus is beyond the ability of anyone to suspend or alter it. What will change, however, is how we celebrate this holy time.

The global mortal danger posed by the coronavirus compels us this year to find a different way to participate in these rites, including the Chrism Mass and the Rites of Sacred Triduum and Easter Sunday.

The Congregation of Divine Worship of the Holy See has issued guidance to the bishops of those regions of the world afflicted by the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, on how to conduct the Holy Week rituals in private.

Parish priests are to celebrate the Triduum on the appointed days at the usual times for their parish; i.e. Mass of the Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated in the evening of Holy Thursday; the Good Friday liturgy may celebrated at any time, preferably at midday; and the Easter Vigil is to be celebrated “after nightfall” (about 8:15 p.m.).

The Diocesan website and parishes will inform the Faithful of times of these liturgies so that all may participate in a spiritual manner, prayerfully uniting themselves to their priest from their homes. Where possible, the Faithful may also participate via livestreaming or other social media.

As God’s People, we will gather spiritually, even if we cannot gather physically. We will recount the Passion of Our Lord, His death and burial. And, we will welcome the risen Christ and celebrate the glory of the Resurrection.

As we come together with a deepened hunger for spiritual communion with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, this year’s celebration of Holy Week will bring the amazing grace of God’s divine mercy. Join me in bringing chastened, humble hearts to the sacred days of Christ’s death and Resurrection. He will call us each by name as he did for Mary Magdalene in the garden of the garden of the tomb. (Jn. 20.11-18) He will come to us, as he did for the disciples hiding behind doors closed by fear, mercifully extend his pierced hands to us and say, “Peace be with you.” (Jn. 20.19-20)


+Jaime Soto
Bishop of Sacramento