This year’s Lenten, Holy Week observances will be holy but somewhat different


Catholics throughout the Jefferson City diocese will notice several differences in this year’s Lenten journey toward Easter.

Temporary changes authorized by Pope Francis to slow the spread of COVID-19 include a different way of receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17.

During all Liturgies that day, the priest will bless the ashes and sprinkle them with holy water after the homily.

He then will declare to the entire congregation at once: “Repent and receive the Good News,” or “Remember that you are dust and until dust you shall return.”

The faithful then will come forward to have ashes sprinkled over their heads, without any physical contact.

“Because this is a change in the custom for ashes in our country, this should be explained to the assembly beforehand,” the Diocesan Liturgical Commission stated in a recent memorandum to parishes.

The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, an important step for people preparing to receive Sacraments of Initiation at Easter, will be held as scheduled the afternoon of Feb. 21, the First Sunday of Lent, in the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

In order to allow for proper social distancing, only the catechumens and candidates, their sponsors and parish RCIA coordinators are invited to attend this year.

Bishop McKnight has authorized the distribution of palms this year on Palm Sunday, March 28.

“Good practice would be for the palms to be distributed by members of the faithful who are masked and wearing gloves,” the Diocesan Liturgical Commission stated. “The palms could be sanitized once before distribution begins.”

The Chrism Mass, during which the bishop blesses and consecrates the oils that will be used for sacraments throughout the diocese in the coming year will be celebrated the morning of March 30, the Tuesday of Holy Week.

This is because the Thursday before Holy Week, the day on which the Mass is traditionally celebrated in this diocese, falls on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

The Liturgical Commission recommended that due to the pandemic, the ceremonial Washing of Feet on Holy Thursday should be omitted this year.

The entire memorandum, including other liturgical directives for the communal and individual observance of Lent, can be found at: