Some of the popular Holy Week traditions were absent this year in Roman Catholic churches, for example washing of the feet and street processions, but yet several were packed to the allowable maximum of worshippers.
Many churches were fully booked from early in Holy Week and two parishes put on an extra mass and service to accommodate the demand for seats.
The COVID-19 public health protocols clearly did not deter people from wanting to participate in Holy Week activities.
Churches are currently permitted to have no more than 75 persons in attendance, but many more persons were able to participate online because of the live broadcasts on YouTube and other platforms by almost every Catholic parish.
The live-streaming played a vital role in bringing persons into fellowship, including the sick and the house-bound.
Although local Catholics could not engage in their usual Palm Sunday Walk due to the COVID-19 restrictions, they made sure to still get palm branches and found creative ways to use them as a reminder of how Jesus was greeted on his entry into Jerusalem.
The Chrism Mass, delayed since last year, was held on Tuesday of Holy Week and three important oils were consecrated: the oil of the sick, the oil of catechumens and the oil of chrism.
Retired Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgetown The Most Rev. Anthony Dickson consecrated the oils since only a bishop can do so, while Bishop-elect of Bridgetown and Apostolic Administrator Father Neil Scantlebury presided at the Mass.
It was a moment of great significance as the first Bishop of Bridgetown and the first Barbadian to be appointed Bishop of Bridgetown shared the duties at St Patrick’s Cathedral on March 30. Another significant moment at the Chrism Mass was when the priests in the Diocese publicly renewed their commitment to priesthood.
The Holy Thursday Mass commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ when, among other things, He established the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
On Good Friday, which Christians recognise as the day that Jesus was crucified and died at Calvary, the streets of Barbados would normally be a hive of activity as churches re-enact the Stations of the Cross, for example, the journey of Jesus to Calvary.
But for the second year, St Patrick’s Cathedral could not dramatise the Stations in the surrounding streets of Bridgetown as it has been accustomed to doing. Churches have been forced to omit such acts of worship due to COVID-19 concerns, just one of the crosses they have to bear.
The solemn Easter Vigil is usually held on Holy Saturday night in anticipation of the resurrection of Jesus, but the continuing curfew meant that vigils had to start earlier this year.
People still brought candles to church and they were lit from a large candle near the altar, known as the Paschal candle, which symbolises that Jesus is the light of the world.
Many Easter Sunday Masses were also booked out as people gathered to celebrate the Resurrection with shouts of, “Jesus Christ is risen, alleluia alleluia. He is risen indeed, alleluia alleluia!” (PR)