Holy Week Letter to Parishioners
from Fr Tim
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St Michael's,
Holy Week and Easter are the most important celebrations of the Church year.
Everyone at St Michael's cherishes the beautiful services that help us enter afresh into the mystery of Christ's love for us, shown forth at the Last Supper and the Agony in the Garden; on the Cross of Calvary; and in the glory of Easter.
In these great three days we re-enact, liturgically, the story of our salvation.
The liturgies of Holy Week and Easter are rich and glorious. We celebrate them with devotion and love.
Their symbolic beauty deepens our faith and sustains us for the year ahead until those saving days come around once more.
This year we are fortunate to be able to celebrate the Holy Week liturgies in Church again. But we must do so with great care. Some of the traditional and much loved elements of Holy Week will be omitted or scaled back.
Here are some of the main things to bear in mind this year.
On Palm Sunday everyone will be given a Palm Cross when they enter the Church. But there will be no outside procession and everyone must remain firmly in their places. The Palm Crosses will be blessed at the start of the Mass.
On Maundy Thursday there will sadly be no washing of feet at the Mass of the Last Supper.
At the end of this Mass the Blessed Sacrament will be transferred to the Altar of Repose, which this year will be in St George's Chapel. This will avoid a procession through the congregation.
Parishioners are invited to spend a very short time of private adoration, standing, near the Altar of Repose after the Mass.
There will be no Vigil into the night this year and parishioners are encouraged to cultivate an atmosphere of solemn recollection at home.
The stripping of the Altars will take place carefully after the Church has closed.
There are two services on Good Friday to help 'thin out' the numbers and avoid the problem of having too many people at the Liturgy.
In the morning there will be Stations of the Cross at 11am. This service will last about 40 minutes.
At Stations of the Cross the congregation will be required to stay in their seats. Only the priest will go around the Stations.
The main service on Good Friday is the Solemn Liturgy at 1.30pm. This should end at three o'clock.
For the adoration of the Holy Cross only the priest will venerate the Cross by kissing it. After he has done so he will bring the Cross and hold it up in front of the congregation, who should kneel and adore the Cross in silence in their pew.
On Good Friday please only come to one service, not both of them!
Confessions before Easter
Parishioners are encouraged to make their confession before Easter.
There will be a priest in the Confessional in St George's Chapel between 11 and 12 noon on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week and on Good Friday.
There is plenty of room there to enable both social distancing and a private conversation.
There will be three opportunities for parishioners to receive Holy Communion at Easter: the Vigil on Saturday night and the two Masses on Sunday morning.
Please only come to one of these Masses.
We expect the biggest turnout to be at the 11 o'clock Solemn Mass on Easter Day. If you don't mind which Mass you come to at Easter, please consider coming to the Vigil on Saturday night or the 9am Mass on Sunday.
Sadly, there will be no procession to the Font at the Vigil and no procession around the Church on Easter morning.
We encourage everyone to celebrate the joy of Easter at home. Very sadly, there will be no drinks after the Easter Masses this year!
I am grateful to Andy and the choir for planning as much beautiful Holy Week and Easter music as possible this year.
I am grateful, too, to our Churchwardens, Philip and Joseph, to our Sacristan Anthony, and to Fr Nigel for helping me plan and think through the services.
Their excellent care and dedication to St Michael's will help make sure our services are as dignified, devotional and as safe as can be.
Thank you too to Fr Andrew at Croydon Minster. He and I have spent some time together, carefully going through the advice issued by the Church authorities for the safe celebration of the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter.
Finally, thank you to all of you for your co-operation and understanding in these difficult times. We will miss some of the best loved elements of Catholic liturgy in the holy days ahead. But next year they will be back. And this year we will all be as safe as possible.
I wish you all a very good Holy Week.