In the midst of COVID-19, The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship has issued a votive Mass “in time of pandemic” and a new intention for the Solemn Intercessions during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday.

The new liturgical texts are available on the Congregation’s website, along with the decrees promulgating them.

The documents had already been provided to the world’s bishops.

– Good Friday intention: “Compassion” for world’s “sorrowful condition”

The intention for Good Friday includes a prayer “for the afflicted in time of pandemic”.

The prayer asks God to:

“Look with compassion on the sorrowful condition of your children who suffer because of this pandemic; relieve the pain of the sick; give strength to those who care for them; welcome into your peace those who have died; and, throughout this time of tribulation, grant that we may all find comfort in your merciful love”.

– Votive Mass: “Strength to healthcare workers, wisdom to our leaders and courage to reach out to all in love”

The Vatican Congregation has also proposed a votive Mass “specifically to implore God to end this pandemic”. The Opening Prayer, or Collect, reads:

“Almighty and eternal God, our refuge in every danger, to whom we turn in our distress; in faith we pray 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 healthcare workers, wisdom to our leaders and the courage to reach out to all in love, so that together we may give glory to your holy name”.

– Prefect laments “terrible pandemic that has stricken the whole world”

In a March 30 decree presenting the new Mass text, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote:

“In these days, during which the whole world has been gravely stricken by the Covid-19 virus, many requests have come to this dicastery to be able to celebrate a specific Mass to implore God to bring an end to this pandemic”.

Sarah added in a second decree presenting the special Good Friday prayer that “the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday this year has a particular significance because of the terrible pandemic that has stricken the whole world”.

“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”, the cardinal explained.

– Rome mobilises all its spiritual resources for those afflicted by plague

The new Good Friday prayer and pandemic Mass text are evidence of how seriously the Vatican is taking the coronavirus crisis, marshalling as it is all of its spiritual resources to come to the aid of the faithful.

Not only did the competent Church authorities in Rome allow general absolution for the duration of the outbreak and grant special indulgences to the sick, their families and healthcare workers, but they also choreographed the moving Urbi et orbi blessing given by Pope Francis last week, alone, from St. Peter’s Square.

In modern life “we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything”, the pontiff acknowledged on that occasion.

“Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste.

“We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet.

“We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: ‘Wake up, Lord!'”, the Pope prayed.

Next on Novena:

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.