- Faith and Worship
- How Do I...
Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: March 30, 2021
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor announced modifications to the COVID-19 protocols for public Masses that will go into effect on Holy Thursday, April 1. Skipping every other pew is no longer required throughout the church, so long as parishioners maintain 6 feet lateral distance between family groups. Restrictions on processions, music, offertory, altar servers, cry rooms and adoration chapels are also being scaled back but physical distancing and masks are still required. | Read New Guidelines.
"Mask-wearing will continue to be obligatory for everyone at least until May 12, when we will reassess this requirement in light of the situation then current. Masks can be removed by lectors when reading and priests at the altar, but it is preferred that masks stay on even then," said the bishop in his March 25 letter addressed to the people of the diocese. "We will continue to monitor the prevailing conditions in the community and in our churches and will continue to make common-sense adjustments to our protocols — loosening them or reinforcing them — as changing circumstances seem to require."
Arkansas Catholic published its annual Holy Week Schedule for Catholic parishes across Arkansas, which includes services in English, Spanish, bilingual, Vietnamese and Latin. It also lists those to be livestreamed for anyone who continues to be at risk for COVID-19 and is not yet able to celebrate the Easter Triduum in person. Every effort was made to ensure accuracy, but please contact your parish to confirm its schedule for any last minute changes.
The word, "triduum" (TRIH-du-um) comes from the Latin word meaning, "three days." The Easter Triduum celebrates the three days of Christ's passion, death and resurrection, the most sacred time of the liturgical year. It begins at sundown on Holy Thursday, reaches its high point at the Easter Vigil, and concludes with evening prayer at sundown on Easter Sunday. It is also known as the Sacred Triduum or Paschal Triduum. | Holy Thursday | Good Friday | Holy Saturday | Easter Sunday
Bishop Taylor will celebrate the Easter Triduum at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. The schedule is as follows: Holy Thursday, April 1, 6 p.m.; Good Friday, April 2, noon; and Holy Saturday, April 3, 8 p.m. All these Masses, including the 12:05 p.m. Easter Sunday Mass, will be livestreamed on the Diocese of Little Rock YouTube channel to watch online. Subscribe to the channel to get notifications when new videos are posted.
The liturgical celebrations of the Easter Triduum are rich in symbolism and flow from one to the other in a seamless way. They are "one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ's Paschal Mystery," according to the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops. More than 2,000 years later, we are still trying to grasp the meaning and power of what Jesus did for us.
During Holy Week, Catholics worldwide "gather to honor the humiliation, torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In a global culture that usually celebrates power, strength and beauty, this public veneration of something so horrible is always a little shocking. Could it be that what people find so absolutely compelling about the Passion narrative is the vulnerability of God?" wrote Bishop Donald Hying of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin for Simply Catholic.
"If God could become that poor, humble and vulnerable to love me, how can I ever stand on my own self-importance? This week, we celebrate the strangest things: weakness becomes strength, love conquers fear, miserable despair transforms into resurrected hope and perpetual death gives way to eternal life, and it’s all because a naked criminal was thrown down on a cross 2,000 years ago, and he embraced it as if it were his marriage bed," he added.
Holy Thursday brings Lent to a close and begins the Easter Triduum. At this Mass, we have the "opportunity to taste the surprising grace of the Eucharist and surrender to the consolation of the foot washing," Bishop Hying explained. Read in-depth reflections on the institution of the Eucharist, priesthood and feet washing in Bishop Taylor's Holy Thursday homilies beginning with 2020. See earlier reflections under "Related Homilies." A special collection to support seminarian education will be taken up on Holy Thursday in parishes across Arkansas. You can also donate online.
There is no Mass on this day of prayer and mourning. We fast and abstain from meat. We venerate the cross and receive the Eucharist reserved from Holy Thursday. The altar is bare. The sanctuary lamp is out because the tabernacle is empty: Jesus is not there. This is an "evil day when an innocent man was killed by the state, said Bishop Taylor in his 2016 homily. "How could anyone possibly characterize the Friday on which this occurred as good?" he asked. Because it is "the day the battle was won. The day the power of sin and death was broken," he explained. Read all his Good Friday homilies beginning with 2020. See earlier versions under "Related Homilies." Pray the Stations of the Cross online or in a parish near you. Give to the Pontifical Good Friday Collection to support the pastoral, charitable, educational and social works of Christians in the Holy Land. Donate at your parish or online.
Known as the "mother of all vigils," the Easter Vigil Mass takes places after sundown. "On this holy night, the Church keeps watch, celebrating the resurrection of Christ in the sacraments and awaiting his return in glory. It is the turning point of the triduum, the Passover of the new covenant, which marks Christ's passage from death to life." The Mass transitions into the baptism of those being initiated into the Church to show the connection between Christ's resurrection and ours. Read Bishop Taylor's Holy Saturday homilies beginning with 2020. See earlier reflections under "Related Homilies.
St. Athanasius called Easter "the Great Sunday." The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls it the "Feast of feasts" and the "Solemnity of solemnities." Easter is the celebration of the Jesus' resurrection from the dead. The word "Easter" comes from Old English, meaning the "East." The sun, which rises in the East, is a symbol for Christians of the rising Christ, who is the true Light of the world. The Paschal Candle is a key symbol of this divine light, which is Christ. It is kept near the ambo throughout the Easter Season and lit for all liturgical celebrations. Read Bishop Taylor's Easter homilies beginning with 2020. See earlier reflections under "Related Homilies. Curious about Easter traditions? Learn the history of Easter Eggs, Easter lilies, the Easter Bunny and more. Get your Easter basket blessed at church or try this virtual blessing.
"We should let the Lord love us during Holy Week," Bishop Hying suggested. "The Triduum is a time for God to break open our hearts, so that the gracious torrent of Divine Mercy that flows from the side of the crucified Christ will wash us clean, forgive our sins and fashion us ever more deeply in the new creation of the Lord’s saving death and resurrection."
For more information, see Our Sunday Visitor's extensive Guide to Holy Week, as well as one from Busted Halo. To teach your children about this celebration, see Triduum Family Activities or go to this list of resources from the Catholic Toolbox blog or Catholic Icing. If you are unable to attend in person and wish to celebrate at home, these Holy Week resources from 2020 still apply.