Vatican approves special ‘Mass in the Time of Pandemic’

The Vatican has approved two new liturgical texts to be used during the coronavirus pandemic and during the Good Friday liturgy this year.

The Congregation for Divine Worship has issued a decree allowing a special “Mass in Time of Pandemic” and released a special intention the Good Friday liturgy.

The special “Mass in the Time of Pandemic” appeals for God’s mercy and gift of strength amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

A March 30 decree released by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, noted the many requests from bishops and priests to celebrate a special Mass “to implore God to bring an end to this pandemic.”

The decree approved a special Mass that can also be celebrated on any day “except solemnities; the Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter (season); days within the Octave of Easter; the commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day); Ash Wednesday; and the days of Holy Week.”

The Mass opens with a prayer asking to “look with compassion on the afflicted, grant eternal rest to the dead, comfort to mourners, healing to the sick, peace to the dying, strength to health care workers, wisdom to our leaders and the courage to reach out to all in love.”

The offertory prayer for the Mass reads: “Accept, O Lord, the gifts we offer in this time of peril. May they become for us, by your power, a source of healing and peace. Through Christ our Lord.”

The intention for the Good Friday observance, meanwhile, includes a prayer “for those who suffer because of this pandemic,” that is, those who “suffer the consequences of the current pandemic.”

One of the suggested Gospel readings during the special Mass is from Mark 4:35-41, the story of the disciples in the boat on the stormy Sea of Galilee.

It is the same Gospel passage that Pope Francis read on March 27 for his special prayer service and blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world), asking God to end the pandemic.

An optional first reading comes from Lamentations 3:17-26, which expresses hope for the Lord’s mercy. “… They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness. My portion is the Lord, says my soul, therefore will I hope in him,” it reads.

The Mass ends with the “prayer over the people,” which reads: “O God, protector of all who hope in you, bless your people, keep them safe, defend them, prepare them, that, free from sin and safe from the enemy, they may persevere always in your love. Through Christ our Lord.”

Another decree issued by the congregation noted that the celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday this year has a particular significance because of the pandemic.

“Indeed, on the day on which we celebrate the redeeming passion and death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, who like a slain lamb has taken upon himself the suffering and sin of the world, the Church raises her voice in prayer to God the Father Almighty for all humanity, and in particular for those who suffer most, while she awaits in faith the joy of the resurrection of her Spouse,” read the decree.

The congregation has issued a new intention for the solemn intercessions that will be recited on Good Friday.

The intercessions include the pope; bishops, priests and deacons; the faithful; catechumens, other Christians; the Jewish people; those who do not believe in Christ; those who do not believe in God; those in public office; and those in special need.

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