The ceremonies of Holy Saturday are performed on Holy Saturday Morning. Because these are long and because many baptisms were performed after the blessing of the font, I suggest splitting the liturgy in two
In the morning- The Easter Fire-The prayers of the blessing of the font ending with inserting a renewal of baptismal promises and sprinkling of holy water.
After dinner-The Litany of Saints to the end, in the manner of a Dry Mass as explained in previous posts. The prayers of the Mass begin to talk about ‘this sacred night’ and so it makes sense to delay this half until evening- as well as pacing things for your family.
We plan to spend the time in the afternoon making Easter decorations.
Some pointers for adapting the liturgy in the booklet.
Part 1- Morning
The liturgical colour is violet
We plan to light a fire in a small barbecue that we have in the garden. While we cannot command a blessing in the way a priest can, in the manner I explained for the blessing of palms, we can still ask God to bless things so the Father of the house can pray these prayers without making the sign of the cross etc, simply asking God to bless the fire.
For the triple candle I intend to use three blessed dinner candles that we had blessed at Candlemas and will place them in a candelabra that we have on the dining room table, leaving the additional candle holders empty.
My wife has made a paschal candle from a pillar candle (also blessed at Candlemas) and we already have incense that has been blessed so that I can insert grains into the Paschal Candle. (Tip- use a pointed tool to make the little holes beforehand!)
All chants are in the play list or can be sung using the cant linked above. The exultet is difficult so just listen to it. If you are keen to do it, miss out the bit about being in the order of levites- this is for priests.
For the 12 prophesies, you could decide which ones to include. We have a two year old so we will read a few and then finish reading them in our own prayer time later. If you have older children, you can adapt to what you think is best.
For the blessing of the font, you could read the prayers and catechise the family on this or simply give an explanation of what would be performed, reminding the family of their baptism and the significance of that sacrament. A simple renewal of baptismal promises can be found here as a way to finish this portion of the liturgy. The liturgy so far is not considered to be in Paschaltide so if you wanted to sing an antiphon, it would be best to stick with Asperges Me for now. Or, you could listen to Palestrina’s setting of the baptism antiphon Sicut Cervus in the playlist.
Part 2- Evening
The home altar is dressed in white and the candles are lit
Begin at the litany of the saints. This takes the place of the Introit and Kyrie.
The Gloria is sung with the ringing of bells. During the Gloria, the purple veils are removed from the sacred images. The character of this liturgy is still one of anticipation as shown by the alleluia mixed with the lenten-style tract.
Continue the dry Mass as described before, with a spiritual Communion made.
After the spiritual Communion, the shortened form of vespers is prayed as in the booklet.
If singing the Ite Missa Est Alleluia, sing Benedicamus Domino Alleluia instead.
The last gospel is read as usual.
Once the children are in bed, it is time to decorate the house, prepare the Easter lunch and hide the eggs for the Easter egg hunt!
I have put together another playlist of the sacred music that can be found here (after the liturgical music of the day, I have included some other pieces that might be used for the stations of the cross or just in the home to aid recollection throughout the day.)
Ideas for celebrating the liturgy at home
The traditional Good Friday Liturgy is celebrated in the morning.
If you followed the instructions in my Maundy Thursday post, you will have stripped your prayer space of any altar frontals/linens/cloths. The candles are not lit. No incense is used. A single crucifix (used for veneration later) is placed standing upright on the altar or table and is covered with a purple or black veil.
The father of the house leads the family in the opening reading, in English or Latin and the accompanying tract can be listened to using the playlist. Then the prayer is said.
The mother of the family could then read the next reading and the accompanying tract can be listened to and followed in the booklet.
The Passion is then read. C- Mother, S- All, + – Father
The Great intercessions are prayed by the father. The mother may wish to say the “Flectamus genua, Levate”as these instructions are usually said by the deacon and subdeacon.
The Adoration of the Cross
The father takes the veiled crucifix and holds it facing the family. He removes the top of the veil to reveal the top of the crucifix. He says or sings the Ecce lignum Crucis and the family respond with the Venite Adoremus. This could be done in English. All kneel.
He then reveals the right arm and repeats the chant, beginning on a higher note.
The process is repeated a third time, now revealing the whole crucifix.
The crucifix is placed on a cushion covered with a purple or other dark cloth, on the ground in front of the altar/table
The father imitates what the priest would do at this time by removing his shoes, kneeling several times in approaching the cross before venerating it with a kiss. The family follow as the playlist resumes at the Reproaches- Popule Meus. When not venerating the cross, the family meditate on the translation of the chants being sung. These are some of the most moving in the whole liturgical year.
The candles are lit towards the end of the Crux Fidelis
The Mass of the Presanctified
The Vexilla Regis is listened to or sung. The priest would usually be retrieving the Blessed Sacrament from the altar of repose in procession at this time and so the family at home begin to prepare to make a fervent spiritual communion.
In the absence of the Blessed Sacrament and given the liturgical character of the day, it might be best not to use incense at home at this point, although the Blessed Sacrament would usually be reverenced thus in the church.
The Pater Noster is said with the other prayer in the booklet and the family make an act of spiritual communion.
The liturgy ends abruptly after the prayer “Quod ore sumpsimus”
It would be good if the house could remain in silence (or close to it depending on the age of the children) until Stations of the Cross are prayed at 3pm.
Remember my perpetual disclaimer, it is better to do less and do it well than to push small children beyond what they can handle. All or part of this can be used to enable the family to worthily observe the Passion of the Lord while we are not able to attend church.
Once the children are in bed, the adults could pray the office of Tenebrae (Matins and Lauds of Holy Saturday anticipated).
Live-streamed from the Birmingham Oratory at 7.30pm here
One of the most iconic pieces of sacred music, the following short film tell the story of how Allegri’s Miserere went from being a top secret jewel of the Vatican’s celebration of Tenebrae to being one of the most well known liturgical compositions in the world.
The father of the house leads the family in the confiteor (The Judica Me is omitted in Passiontide) and reads the translation of the Introit before listening to it.
The Kyrie is listened to or prayed out loud with the father leading and family responding.
At the Gloria, bells should be rung. This is the last time that bells are heard in the liturgy until the first Gloria of Easter.
After the Gloria, the Bishop would ordinarily bless and consecrate the holy oils. This is an opportunity to catechise the family on what this entails. We have exorcised oil at home which I use instead of holy water for blessing the family when necessary so this will be used as a focal point. Details can be found here.
The father leads the collect.
Listen to the gradual using the playlist or read it aloud. An older child could help with this.
The mother of the family might read the epistle in the place of the subdeacon.
An older child might read the Gradual before it is listened to on the playlist.
The Father reads the Gospel and gives some words of explanation according to the age of the children.
Sing the Credo
Sing the offertory
After the offertory, select some prayers from offertory of the Mass to prepare for a spiritual communion. (Suggestion- Suscipe Sancta Trinitas, asking God to receive all the Masses throughout the world. The preface could be read and the Sanctus sung (See same video as the Kyrie in the playlist). Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, Act of Spiritual Communion, silence.) I have included two beautiful Eucharistic Motets to aid a time of silent prayer.
Finish the prayers of the Mass. End with “Benedicamus Domino” in place of “Ite Missa Est”
During the Mass, the priest would usually consecrate an additional host which he would receive on Good Friday. After Mass on Holy Thursday, the priest would process to the altar of repose with the Blessed Sacrament while Pange Lingua Gloriosi is sung. Options in the home could include singing or reading the Pange Lingua, asking your guardian angels to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in your parish church or making a Blessed Sacrament Banner and singing the Pange Lingua in procession around the house and garden and back to the home chapel/prayer space.
Optional – Vespers follows and is said, not sung. Perhaps the children could be excused now and the adults could pray Vespers. You could skip this step and go to the stripping of the altars.
After vespers, the altars are stripped of any cloths as psalm 21 is chanted (See pg 14-16 here).
Usually, there would be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Perhaps we could have one image of Our Lord exposed so that we can revisit the prayer space through the day for ‘adoration’ of Our Lord as we usually would the Blessed Sacrament. Another option would be to set up a device and livestream adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The Mandatum or foot washing is optional and was performed separately at a different time. I have included the chants on the playlist. Some families may wish to have the father wash the feet of the family to represent the servant leadership of Jesus. Some may feel that this ceremony is too sacerdotal to be recreated in the home.
As I said last time, this is the maximum that can be done to celebrate the liturgy to the best of our ability at home but, we must be prudent and adapt to what we can achieve in our own setting. To do less and do it well with a prayerful atmosphere is better than forcing your kids to sit through too much and end up causing resentment and or tantrums!
In the evening, Tenebrae (Matins and Lauds of Good Friday) can be prayed. I will put up a separate post on this.
We have rule in our home- no entertainment in Holy Week. This follows a custom of a bygone era (for now…) where Holy Week was taken as a retreat with more lay attendance at the divine office, public and private devotions and passion plays.
The Passion of St Matthew was read at Mass today so why not enhance your interior recollection by listening to Bach’s sublime setting of the text.
We find ourselves in a situation where we need to keep the liturgies of Holy Week at home. This sort of situation is not unprecedented. My thoughts are drawn to the recusant Catholics of the Anglican persecution, the true Church in China and other underground Christians and even His Eminence Cardinal Pell who has been denied the right to offer the Holy Sacrifice for many months.
Rather than becoming angry and frustrated, let us resign ourselves to the permissive will of God as did Our Lady during the Passion. We should make the most of this opportunity to grow in our understanding and practice of the faith.
Collect for Saturday in Passion Week
We beseech Thee, O Lord, may Thy devoted people grow in the spirit of pious devotion, that learned in the holy rites, they may become the more pleasing to Thy majesty as they abound in spiritual gifts. Through Christ Our Lord…
In the Pearce household, we have greatly benefited from praying in union with livestreamed Masses and we are grateful to all priests who have made the liturgy available to us, especially the FSSP at Livemass.net. For Holy Week, however, we have decided not to livestream Mass but to do what we can to be present to the liturgy in our own home- a time for us to up our ‘Ecclesia Domestica’ game. (For that is our WiFi name after all!)
Below I have provided notes on how this can be done at home. Some points to consider:
We don’t have to try to replicate liturgical perfection at home. The point of this is to pray and absorb the theology of the ancient prayers and chants.
This is an example of the maximum that can be done. If your kids get restless, cut things out and read them privately once they are in bed. The point here is to celebrate what we can and not to overdo things and put our families off. Better to do less for the greatest spiritual payoff than to try to do everything and end up with tantrums. It is consistent with my Benedictine spirituality to adapt things to the needs of those participating rather than making unattainable demands.
We don’t allow toys in our home chapel but we do allow anything that we would pack in the Mass bag. Age appropriate books and colouring sheets are a good idea and since the ceremonies are longer than usual, we will allow a little more moving around than at the family rosary each evening.
For those who can’t sing the liturgy, I have compiled playlists. These could even be used outside of the prayer time to keep a recollected atmosphere throughout the day.
Texts for each liturgy can be found here by selecting rubrics pre-1955 and selecting ‘Sancta Missa’ at the top of the page. Another option would be to print the relevant pages from a pre-1955 Missal such as the Fr Lasance Missal.
Resources: Either sing or listen to chants using playlist here. Chant can be seen and printed here. Generally speaking, chants in Latin, readings and orations in English. Fr Lasance Missal pg388 onwards.
Asperges III- Father of the family sprinkles home altar and family with holy water.
Antiphon. Hosanna filio David followed by prayer- Deus Quem Diligere
Lesson from Exodus 15
Ant. In Monte Oliveti
Father reads Gospel
Always replace Dominus Vobiscum with V. Domine exaudi orationem meam. R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat
Father reads through the blessings- Only a priest can command a blessing of an object but we can still pray that God will bless the palms/branches that we have prepared. We also benefit from the rich theology of the ancient prayers.
Sing the Sanctus.
Sing Pueri Hebraeorum while the Father hands branches to each family member in order.
Procession- (The door of the prayer room/chapel is closed when the last person leaves.) The Father can lead with a large crucifix if one is available. Think of a reasonable procession route that includes parts of the house and garden.
Sing Gloria, Laus et honor tibi sit during the procession.
Return to the prayer room/chapel in time for the ending of the hymn. (If your family is large enough, you could have some inside the chapel as in the rubrics of the missal, if not just continue).
The family wait outside the closed door of the chapel/prayer room.
The father knocks three times on the closed door with the foot of the large crucifix. (He could just knock if no such crucifix is available.)
Sing Ant. Ingrediente upon re-entering the room.
N.B. You may decide here to skip to your time of spiritual communion depending on how the kids are doing.
The Missa Sicca proper
Follow the missal as is.
The reading of the passion.
Option 1- Read the full Passion. C-Mother, S- All, + – Father OR (if your kids are getting restless by now!)
At what would be a low Mass, the Passion is substituted for the Gospel that is read before the blessing of the palms. You may decide that since you already read this earlier, you may omit it and give a summary of the passion in your own words for the benefit of the children.
Sing the Credo
Sing the offertory
After the offertory, select some prayers from offertory of the Mass to prepare for a spiritual communion. (Suggestion- Suscipe Sancta Trinitas, asking God to receive all the Masses throughout the world. The preface could be read and the Sanctus sung. Pater Noster, Agnus Dei, Act of Spiritual Communion, silence.)
Finish the prayers of the Mass. End with Benedicamus Domino in place of Ite Missa Est
I will post the same sort of resource for the Sacred Triduum in due course.
On beginning a study and comparison of the liturgies of Holy Week before and after the 1955 reform of Pope Pius XII, I came across the following website. The site contains many outstanding resources for anyone wishing to learn more. I have only compared Palm Sunday liturgies so far and will post on that separately.