Vatican guidelines on the Triduum in time of Coronavirus

On March 19, 2020, the Vatican issued guidelines and suggestions on the celebration of the Triduum for this year during this time of the Covid-19 Coronavirus. Here is the official text in English, Spanish, and French.

UPDATE: The Vatican issued a slightly updated version of this decree on March 25, 2020.

We summarize here the major points and how that will affect communities that are unable to gather together for the Triduum and celebrate not only the liturgies of the Triduum but also the baptismal rites during the Easter Vigil.

For a more focused look at the options and suggestions for celebrating the initiation rites of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) when your community cannot gather together for the Easter Vigil, see this video post and written summary.

And if you missed it, here is the video we did last week on how to celebrate the Scrutinies and the Presentations during this extraordinary time.

The situation in each affected area is constantly changing day by day, so always follow your local diocesan and health guidelines.

We continue to pray for you and your ministry to your communities. We especially pray for those who are sick and all who are caring for them. We grieve with you for lives lost and lives disrupted and share your sadness in these challenging days. We may be physically distanced but we can remain socially and spiritually connected. Let’s keep taking care of one another, especially those most in need. As we journey to Easter, may the Spirit strengthen us even more to be people of paschal joy.

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  1. I wanted to thank you for all your time and help in keeping the faithful , “faithful” during this unprecedented time of trial due to the corona virus pandemic. I am a permanent deacon in the diocese of Orlando Florida, ordained to the clergy in 2011. I am also the RCIA coordinator for our local parish church. I follow all your videos and suggestions that you offer.
    I just listened to your presentation on the guidelines of the Triduum from the Pope. I did not heard you speak of the assistance that permanent deacons give to the church and I know that my brothers in Christ, all clergy, both priests and deacons are doing everything that we can to reassure and help people not to lose our relationship with God during these trails. It would sure be reassuring to us permanent deacons that we are included in those celebrations along with the priests, especially during the Triduum. Again, thanks for all that you do for Christ!

    • Hi Deacon George. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you are doing to reassure and comfort people during this difficult time. Regarding the participation of deacons in the Triduum liturgies, we did not mention it in the video because it was not mentioned in the decree from the Vatican that we were reviewing. I have no idea, of course, why Rome chose not to include deacons in the directives. All of us who are deprived of the opportunity to participate in the Eucharist and other parish liturgies during the coronavirus outbreak are grieving right now, especially during this holiest time of year. Let’s continue to pray for each other and especially for those who are not as fortunate as we are. Thank you again for all you are doing in your ministry.

  2. Dear Diana and Nick. Thank you for this video and your continued communication on RCIA under our present trials!

  3. Thank you for the clarification on the Triduum. The part about broadcasting the liturgies live (not recorded) was particularly interesting and helpful going forward. God bless!

  4. Thank you so much, Nick and Diana, for sharing your expertise during this unprecedented time. Praying for you and for all. In case you are looking for more, perhaps a short piece on how to ‘celebrate’ mass at home as an active participant – not just watch mass. Just a thought. ๐Ÿ™‚ Blessings and Prayers, Terry Burrows

  5. Nick and Diana, thank you for this warm and encouraging presentation.

    I did read the text a little bit differently in one or two places. Let me mention these, for the sake of discussion. First, in the Vigil, we omit the new fire and its blessing, but I do not think it’s a good idea to omit the preparation of the candle. You’ll notice that the word “preparation” occurs only in the English translation, and it pertains to the fire. (In all the other translations, the equivalent word for “preparation” is missing altogether.) The Missal says “a fire is prepared” and this is all that we are omitting, I think. As I see it, the preparation of the candle is part of the ritual of lighting it. Without the incision of the cross, and its accompanying text, this lighting of the candle is reduced almost to zero. It would be a sad loss, and I don’t see the necessity of omitting it from the Vatican text.

    Second, as you mentioned, there is an acknowledgment of different regulations for gathering in various parts of the world. Germany just announced that any gatherings more than 2 are prohibited. In New York State, the limit is 10. The directives in the Vatican instruction say that “For the Baptismal Liturgy, the Renewal of Baptismal Promises alone is necessary.” This raised a question for me. Say you are in a parish in New York, where ten can lawfully gather, observing appropriate cautions. You have two elect. You could baptize those elect. It’s not necessary that you do so, and it might not be desirable, given how sad it would be to have no congregation. But as I read the Vatican text, it does not seem to prohibit it. (By the way, who is going to reply to the promises, if there is no congregation? A server?)

    Third, perhaps you are right that the instruction wants us to omit the blessing of water. But in the ritual text, even if there are no baptisms the font is blessed. If they wanted us to omit it, it would have been good to to make this clearer. I lean toward doing it, myself, because of the structure of the liturgy. There are three long prayers that are the hinges of this liturgy. Each is ancient, each takes the form of preface: the Exsultet, the Blessing of Water, and the Eucharistic Prayer. Praise and thanksgiving for Light, for Water, and for the Bread and Wine of Eucharist gives the Vigil its characteristic form. Maybe there are health concerns about sprinkling, and maybe baptism is omitted, but the water is “there” and that’s something symbolically rich.

    • Rita, thanks for your excellent insights. Very helpful as we all struggle with how to celebrate these rites in extraordinary and difficult times.

  6. Thank you for all the information and guides that you share with us. Always a blessing knowing the source and with your experience it makes it more enlightening.
    Stay blessed

  7. Nick and Diana, thank you for this update, and for all that you do.
    Many dioceses have already made decisions, following the Vatican’s guidelines, that the Triduum and Easter liturgies/Masses will not be public. Unfortunately, ours has not yet said anything. We currently have a ‘shelter in place’ restriction until April 8th. I am assuming that we will follow the Vatican guidelines, but I wish we could hear something ‘official’ soon.
    May all be safe and stay healthy. It’s a special time for everyone to spend more time in prayer and self-reflection.
    God Bless!

  8. Nick and Diana, Thank you for all you do to keep us updated. This is my first time listening to the both of you. I did learn new things. It is sad after 37 years In ministry, We are face in this situation. Thanks for your guidance. Looking forward to listen to you and Diana, in the future. God Bless. Stay safe and healthy.


  9. Thank you for the information. I can see you sadness, but very much appreciate the leadership of your team.

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