Holy Liturgies in an Unholy Pandemic

In many international conversations regarding liturgies in this most holy week, I’m hearing of a number of geographically diverse places using the “Oxford split” for Easter (the vigil through renewal of baptismal vows on Saturday night, the first mass of Easter on Sunday morning). This is, for many, a response to a 45 minute-ish limit on in-person “religious gatherings.”

It may be that I’m simply having the same conversation with a small group of people, but we thought it might be interesting to ask – probably in a week without extra time to answer – what adaptations to our primary liturgies have been put in place out of necessity (necessities due to the pandemic)? How are these restrictions, in some cases at the last minute, being put into place in attempts to stay safe and still gather in person? 


  1. Triduum rituals very simplified or eliminated — no washing of the feet, no individual veneration of the cross, very simple transfer of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday night, etc. But at least this year we have something.

  2. We had individual candles during the vigil . In past years, the choir and priest would blow out their candles encouraging the assembly to follow suit.

    This year, after the introduction to the readings, the priest added a “mini rite” asking the assembly to blow gently downward or to use their worship aid, if they printed it out ahead of time, to extinguish their candle.

    Then, at the end of the vigil, he made a big deal for everyone to take their candle home and actually use it. (It ensued less clean up for parish volunteers who were sanitizing for sure)

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