Page 9, 2nd December 1955

2nd December 1955
Page 9
Page 9, 2nd December 1955 — Papal decree on Holy Week

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Papal decree on Holy Week

(Continued from page 1)

visit to the Blessed Sacrament after the Maundy Thursday Mass. In the same way the faithful should be given the fullest instruction about the character of the Good Friday ceremonies, and " how they should privately spend that day, not forgetting the laws of fasting and abstinence."

The special liturgical nature of Holy Saturday also demands a careful instruction of the faithful. "It is a day of solemn mourning during which the Church lingers at Our Lord's Sepulchre and meditates on His Passion and Death,"

The purpose of the vigil is " to demonstrate and to record liturgically how from Our Lord's Death springs our life of grace."

The instruction then details the special meaning of each of the vigil's ceremonies.

Finally, under this head. the instruction emphasises the need for the pious and decorous carrying out of the liturgical ceremonies throughout Holy Week.

In the second section of the instruction advice is given about the rubrics of the new " Order."

Austerity Paragraph 6 states that throughout Holy Week " the celebrant in Solemn Masses will not himself say what the deacon. the subdeacon and the lector sing and read." Referring to the altar of repose, the Instruction says that this altar should he " suitably adorned as far as possible with veils and lights."

" It is strongly recommended that people should observe the decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites against all abuses in preparing this altar, and maintain

the appropriate austerity of the liturgy of our times." The public adoration of the Holy Eucharist will last from the end of Mass at least until midnight.

About the Paschal Vigil the Instruction, among other details, recalls the propriety of the candles held by the clergy and the people remaining alight during the singing of the Paschal ptaeconium. and the renewal of the baptismal vows.

It is suitable that the vessel containing the holy water should he properly adorned.

Where there are many baptisms the ceremonies preceding the actual administration of baptism may he anticipated in the morning.

The third section deals with the Mass, Holy Communion and the Eucharistic fast during the last three days of Holy Week,

Evening Mass

After the reminder of the Church's tradition that all private Masses are forbidden on Maundy Thursday. the Instruction states that where pastoral reasons make it necessary the Bishop may permit one or two low Masses in individual churches. In semi-public oratories only one such Mass is allowed.

Such Masses may take place only at the time of the solemn Maundy Thursday Mass.

. On that day Holy Communion may he given only during or immediately after the Evening Mass. The same ruling applies on Holy Saturday. Exception is made for those who are sick or in danger of death.

" On Good Friday, Holy Communion may he distributed only during the solemn afternoon Liturgy, with the same exception for the sick, and those in danger of death."

Priests who celebrate the solemn Faster Vigil Mass at the proper hour. namely. at midnight. may celebrate the Mass of Easter Sunday and, if they have permission, say two or three Masses.

The fasting rules of the Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus continue to apply.


The fourth and last section of the Instruction deals with the solution of certain difficulties.

Because traditions vary in different places and among different peoples, a recommendation is made that " Bishops and priests should strive prudently to harmonise such pious customs with the new order for Holy Saturday." The faithful should he instructed on the supreme value of " the sacred liturgy, which always far surpasses. most especially during these days, all other customs and devotions. whatever they may be." The blessing of private houses should he deferred until a more convenient time, before or after Easter, and on this occasion the clergy should take the opportunity of visiting the faithful and making themselves aware of the faithful's spiritual stale. The last part of this paragraph deals with the ringing of bells. as prescribed for the Gloria in excelsi.v on Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday. Where it is a case of a single church. the hells should he rung when the singing of the Gloria begins. Where there are many churches together. the ringing of the bells should he synchronised with those of the cathedral or chief church.

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