COVID-19 And The Easter Triduum


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It’s Good Friday. A very solemn, glum and reflective day for Christians. Several years ago the Riverdance troupe had a very popular show called Lord of the Dance. Not surprisingly it featured finely choreographed Celtic dancing, culminating in the title song. But that song, which has been sung in pubs for decades, was originally a hymn by Sydney Carter in which there is a reference to Good Friday. 

I danced on a Friday
When the sky turned black
It’s hard to dance
With the devil on your back.
They buried my body
And they thought I’d gone,
But I am the Dance,
And I still go on.

Speaking of music, I wonder if Pope Francis has banned R.E.M. from being played on Radio Vatican? The Athens, Georgia band’s Losing My Religion was nominated for a Grammy in 1992, but it may well describe the current situation facing many faiths.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused religions around the world to lock-up houses of worship in an effort to limit gatherings that may exacerbate the spread of the virus

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused religions around the world to lock-up houses of worship in an effort to limit gatherings that may exacerbate the spread of the virus. Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, and Temples have closed their doors to congregations and canceled or postponed countless weddings, christenings, and even funerals.

This time of year is awash with special religious occasions: Easter, Passover, and Ramadan are all observed over the next few weeks. From a religious point of view, self-isolation couldn’t come at a worse time.

The Catholic church (with which I am most familiar) has, for decades, experienced a gradual erosion of regular church attendance. But Easter Sunday, and the preceding services, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Saturday draw a near full congregation. 

Those who annually attend the Easter Triduum, but then only show up again at Christmas (fair-weather Catholics I like to call them), will have to, like all faithful, make do with online streaming of those services this year. 

But I think the Church faces a larger problem.

According to Wikipedia, in Canada, the Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination with 38.7% of Canadians (12.81 million). On an average Sunday, a mere 15 to 25 percent of Canada’s Catholics attend Mass.

Might this be an opportunity to adopt some changes that would make more Catholics comfortable with Mother Church?

Once the COVID-19 situation is rectified, and I hope it will be sooner rather than later, will all the weekly Mass attendees, already only a quarter of Catholics at best, return? Or will they succumb to the trend and only drop in on special occasions?

I imagine the Vatican, dioceses, and local parishes and pastors are, via Zoom.com perhaps, discussing methods of retaining pre-COVID-19 attendance numbers at Mass. Might this be an opportunity to adopt some changes that would make more Catholics comfortable with Mother Church?

The forced break in the routine of going to Sunday Mass may not lead to people actually losing their religion, but it may cause them, like many of their fellow Catholics, to bypass churches and worship on their own terms.

Published by DCMontreal

DCMontreal - Deegan Charles Stubbs - is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

One thought on “COVID-19 And The Easter Triduum

  1. It’s not just the Catholics. ALL denominations have been losing large pieces of their congregations. Synagogues, Protestants of all denominations — for example our church is about half the size it was 15 years ago. Religion and dogma are out of favor. There are a lot of reasons for it and it’s not such a casual thing. Priests and ministers have been found to be untrustworthy. The constant murders and genocide and war and the horror of politics have made people wonder what kind of god would allow the world to be this awful?

    The world IS changing. If religions — formal religions — are going to survive, they will have to find a way of appealing to more people, appealing to the disenfranchised who feel that churches don’t bring you closer to god.

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