News and Events


Liturgical and Sacramental Guidelines: Holy Week and Easter

April 7, 2020

All livestreamed parish liturgies are to be celebrated according to archdiocesan and governmental directives.

Per the Vicar General communication on April 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now “recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” In view of this updated guidance, we remind all pastors and administrators of parishes and agencies that there are to be no public liturgical or sacramental celebrations (including drive-through or parking-lot gatherings for Communion, confession or blessings) until further notice.

In addition, social distancing must be observed during livestreamed or recorded celebrations, with the added precaution of using face coverings if distancing measures prove difficult to maintain. Following the guidance of our local and national public-health professionals demonstrates that everyone has an essential part to play in controlling the spread of this deadly virus. It is also in keeping with what we as a people of faith have learned from the first pages of scripture: we are “our brother’s keeper.”

If you livestream Holy Week and Easter Sunday liturgies, be consistent with the prescribed times.  For example, do not begin living streaming the Easter Vigil before 8 p.m.

  • Limit the number of people as much as possible – NOT exceeding the current 10-person limit. This is inclusive of:
    • Celebrant and concelebrants
    • one deacon OR one reader (for the Vigil see the note on reader(s) below)
    • one cantor and one musician
    • videographer if the parish is livestreaming
  • All ministers including concelebrants are to practice social distancing, i.e., staying six feet apart.
  • The celebrant should be the only person to handle the gifts (the paten and the chalice). If there is a deacon, he can prepare the chalice without picking it up. This models for our people precautions in social interaction.
  • Do not share the chalice among ministers (if there are concelebrants or a deacon consecrate enough individual chalices)
  • Please visually sanitize your hands before and after distributing Holy Communion.

All private Masses (i.e., Masses that are not live streamed and celebrated with a main celebrant and concelebrants and NO OTHER MINISTERS) are to be celebrated according to Archdiocesan and Governmental directives

  • All ministers including concelebrants are to practice social distancing, i.e., staying six feet apart.
  • The celebrant should be the only person to handle the gifts (the paten and the chalice). If there is a concelebrant, he can prepare the chalice without picking it up.
  • Do not share the chalice among ministers (if there are concelebrants consecrate enough individual chalices)
  • Sanitize your hands before and after distributing Holy Communion.

Palm Sunday

  • The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated according to the third form as given in the Roman Missal.
  • There is NOT to be any distribution of blessed palms; however, if a priest blesses palms privately, those palms may be reserved for distribution at a later date to be determined by the USCCB and/or Archdiocese of Chicago.

Holy Thursday

  • The washing of feet is to be omitted.
  • At the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the Blessed Sacrament is returned to the tabernacle in the usual way, before the Prayer after Communion.
  • The Procession to an altar of repose is omitted.
  • On this day the faculty to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the presence of the people, is exceptionally granted to all priests.
  • For any priest who cannot celebrate the Mass, he should pray Vespers of the day.

Good Friday

  • In the Universal Prayer, all Bishops have been asked to have a special intention prepared for those who find themselves in distress, the sick, the dead, (cf. Missale Romanum). The USCCB has prepared a prayer to use:

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 priest 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

  • The adoration of the Cross by kissing it shall be limited solely to the celebrant.

The Easter Vigil

  • The Service of Light is to be omitted.
    • The Paschal Candle is to be prepared beforehand.
    • The Paschal Candle is lit, the procession is omitted and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) follows.
      • To achieve this, the Paschal Candle can be lit in the sacristy and the ministers enter the sanctuary, with the lit candle, from the sacristy.
  • The Liturgy of the Word takes place.
    • NB: Because of the number of readings which can be used, a second reader may take part, in order to alternate voices during the liturgy of the word.
  • For the “Baptismal Liturgy” the Renewal of Baptismal Promises is all that is necessary.
    • While Holy Water fonts are still to remain empty, since the renewal of Baptismal Promises includes a sprinkling the following will be observed:
      • The usual small receptacle for water, used with the aspergillum, is blessed according to Roman Missal no. 54ff
      • This leads to the Renewal of Baptismal Promises (RM no. 55)
      • The celebrant sprinkles the other minsters and the receptacle is set aside.
  • The Liturgy of the Eucharist follows.

Those who have no possibility of participating in the Easter Vigil should pray the Office of Readings for Easter Sunday.

As previously communicated: 

Holy oils will not be distributed until the current health crisis is abated.

​​​​​​​Palm Sunday and Holy Week Liturgies - including Easter Sunday - will not be celebrated publicly in our parishes..

  • There are NOT to be any public celebrations, even outside including live Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.
  • Easter sacraments for RCIA candidates and catechumens are to be postponed – guidance will be provided later as to when they might be celebrated after the crisis subsides.
  • There should be no Communion services until we are cleared to return for public liturgies.
  • ​​​​​​​These guidelines and restrictions on public liturgies and gatherings are inclusive of Easter Sunday and all liturgies after Easter until further notice.