The coronavirus pandemic has deprived Catholics the world over of much of their Lenten liturgical life. During Holy Week that deprivation will be felt all the more acutely, as priests prepare to celebrate the most sacred days of the year in empty churches.
Holy Week during the pandemic will carry a perennial liturgical dynamic to excess. Obviously the liturgy never strips itself away from those who would participate in it, as is happening for lay Catholics now. But there is in Lent, culminating in Holy Week, a liturgical stripping away, a sort of liturgical dying.
As Lent proceeds, many liturgical actions and symbols are set aside. Indeed, after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper there is a formal stripping of the altar, leaving it bare for the commemoration of the Lord’s passion.