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Sunday,November 29,2020 03:22 AM

Christians guided on marking Holy Week

By Geoffrey Mutegeki

Added 4th April 2020 09:39 AM

Palms will be blessed on Palm Sunday, in absence of the faithful, and distributed later through arrangements to be made by each parish.

Christians guided on marking Holy Week

Christians celebrate Palm Sunday to mark Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem. However, this year will not witness such public celebrations due to COVID-19.

Palms will be blessed on Palm Sunday, in absence of the faithful, and distributed later through arrangements to be made by each parish.

For over 40 years, Rosemary Nyanjura has been celebrating Easter and Palm Sunday masses at her local church at Butiiti Catholic Parish in Kyenjojo district. But this year will be a little different. 
 
Nyanjura, 62, and her family of four will gather for worship in their house. They will turn on their family TV and watch the Mass being celebrated. 
 
The pre-Easter tradition comes at a time when coronavirus social distancing rules mean public gatherings are banned and people are encouraged to stay at least six feet from each other.
 
"We shall be home and we shall pray from the TV. I will be with my own palm which I'll use in my house to celebrate the day. I will follow the everything, since my heart is set for it," Nyanjura says. 
 
Easter is one of the biggest celebrations of the Christian calendar and the most significant event. It is always among the most attended church services of any church service.
 
However, with the Holy Week, the faithful prepare to have a quite different experience of the Christian religion's most significant holiday.
 
"Because of coronavirus we have been asked to pray from home. It is quite a challenge but we have to respect the move in order not to spread or contract the virus," Nyanjura says.
 
And though the use of media will enable Nyanjura and her family to worship, she longs for the in-person experience. 
 
"I miss the Church experience. I miss greeting people, hugging, the smiles and the social interactions with my fellow church members," Nyanjura says.
 
Like Nyanjura several Christians will be forced to worship from either TV, radio, facebook, Youtube or any other form of live streaming.
 
According to the Ministry of Health, Uganda has a total of 48 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic.
 
To keep the social distance, the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) has issued guidelines on liturgical celebrations during the Holy Week and Easter Sunday.
 
The guidelines issued by Bishop Joseph Antony Zziwa the Chairman of UEC and Bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese, indicate that the date for Easter will not be deferred. 
 
"Bishops and priests may celebrate the rites of Holy Week without the presence of the people," Zziwa says.
 
He notes that the media, especially television and radio, are requested to broadcast live the liturgical celebrations to enable the faithful follow from their respective homes. 
 
"It is our hope, as Catholic Bishops, that the current challenge has given believers the opportunity to recognize that each family is a "domestic church. Whereas our physical churches are closed, our families remain open," Zziwa says.
 
He encourages each family to strive to evangelise itself and strengthen the faith of its members through daily prayers, bearing in mind what Jesus said in Mt 18:20 (For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them). 
 
It should be noted that the ban by Government on public gatherings (of more than 10 people) is still in effect.
 
Bishop Zziwa says the church, acknowledge the extreme disruption COVID19 has caused to normal life, including public worship and celebration of the sacraments. 
 
"We are, however, comforted by the fact that what is happening right now is not the first of its kind in recent human history," Zziwa says.
 
In the 14th Century, Black Death (plague epidemic) killed millions in Europe, and the Church was forced to take drastic measures, including restrictions on worship and movements, in order to curb further spread of the disease. 
 
Also, during the 1918 influenza pandemic, churches were closed in many parts of Europe and America. 
 
"Because COVID-19 is a threat and challenge to humanity, we need to pray and work together to save human life. We, therefore, appeal to all people in Uganda to cooperate with the authorities to defeat the disease as soon as possible," Zziwa says.
 
As the fight against COVID-19 continues, Bishop Zziwa has asked to continue praying during the trying moment and to at least a decade of the Rosary daily, beside other devotional prayers. 
 
They are also encouraged to pray to the Martyrs of Uganda for their intercession. 
 
Uganda Episcopal Guidelines
 
Palm Sunday: The commemoration of the Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated within sacred buildings; in Cathedral churches the second form given in the Roman Missal is to be adopted. In parish churches and in other places the third form is to be used. 
 
Palms will be blessed on Palm Sunday, in absence of the faithful, and distributed later through arrangements to be made by each parish.
 
The Chrism Mass: Uganda Episcopal Conference will communicate the date for the blessing of the Holy Oils later. 
 
Holy Thursday: The washing of feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted. 
 
At the end of the Mass of the Lord's Supper the procession is also omitted and the Blessed Sacrament is to be 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.
 
Good Friday: In the Universal Prayer, Bishops will arrange to have a special intention prepared for those who find themselves in distress, the sick, the dead. For adoration of the Cross, people will prostrate and bow before the Cross. 
 
Easter Vigil: This is to be celebrated only in the cathedral and parish churches. There will be no baptism of catechumens on this day. However, the renewal of baptismal promises is maintained.
 
Seminaries, houses of clergy, monasteries and religious communities shall follow the indications of this decree.
 
Expression of popular piety and processions which enrich the days of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum can be deferred to other suitable days in the year, for example 14 and 15 September, according to the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop. 
End 

 

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