The continued and on-going troubling impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the nation and on the world has forced many adjustments in the celebration of the great solemnities and seasons of the Church’s calendar.
Unfortunately, with the current increase in infections and hospitalizations brought on by the virus, we are forced to adjust guidance on the observance of the most sacred seasons of Lent and Easter for 2021.
Because the path of the virus is unpredictable and until a larger proportion of the population can be vaccinated, the Norms for the Celebration of the Seasons of Lent and of Easter will be modified.
As suggested by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (Prot. N. 17/21), and affirmed by the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, ashes may be distributed to the faithful this year by sprinkling on the head (consistent with how this sacramental is described in the Roman Missal).
As was the situation with the Season of Advent, Lenten Communal Penance Services will be not held this year because of the risk of infection and for the health and safety of the faithful. Pastors are encouraged to provide additional dates and times at their parishes to make the Sacrament of Penance available to the faithful of their parishes during the Lenten Season.
The celebration of the Rite of Election will be delegated by Bishop Luis Zarama to the pastors of the parishes in the diocese who are journeying with catechumens to the waters of Baptism. This celebration should take place on the First Sunday of Lent, February 21, 2021, and may occur at a Eucharistic Liturgy or as a Liturgy of the Word.
This continues to be a most extraordinary and unusual time in human history, yet as people of faith we are encouraged always to see in the challenges and in the accomplishments of life the hand of God who leads us out of darkness into his own marvelous light, and by whose Passion, Death, and Resurrection salvation has been accomplished.
May peace and all good things guide your Lenten journeys.