The Church has further clarified the fate of this year’s feasts, with a note from the Auxiliary Bishop saying that they will be celebrated with Holy mass only on their liturgical day. The directives of the Bishops of Malta and Gozo that were issued as soon as the pandemic broke, outlined that this year there would be no internal or external feast celebrations; the Curia also said it was not permitted to hold festive masses or other celebrations on days other than the liturgical day associated with the saint.
Mass celebrated on liturgical day only – nothing more on other days
Whereas in Gozo feasts with a reduced format will remain linked to the day associated with the patron saint of the parish and scheduled in the festive calendar, in Malta the Curia has linked the titular and secondary feasts to their liturgical day only. Therefore, the simplest scenario is that feasts are always held on the day of the liturgical feast. For instance in some localities the feast of Saint Mary is celebrated on the 15th of August; while the birth of our Lady is celebrated on the 8th of September; Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Valletta is celebrated on 16 July; while the Feast of Our Savior in Lija is celebrated on 6 August; and St. Lawrence of Vittoriosa is celebrated on the 10th of August. The localities will celebrate the feast with mass on that day and the statue will be able to be taken out of its niche and placed in the Church.
A spokesman for the Curia said that for as long as the situation prevailed the festive mass will be held behind closed doors and possibly broadcast on social media. It has been said that this year nothing further would be done, neither inside the church such as the triduum or novena, nor external celebrations.
What will happen when the liturgical feast is over?
As a result of this Curia directive, a number of localities that used to celebrate the feast on a different day to that of the patron saint’s liturgical feast will be affected. In parishes where the liturgical day of the titular or secondary feast was earlier this year, nothing will be done and on what is supposed to be the feast day of the locality, everything will be as normal as if it were just another Sunday in the year: the church liturgy and the statue will remain unchanged.
This happened today in Tarxien, which was supposed to be the feast day despite the fact that in the liturgical calendar the Annunciation falls on the 25th of March; the same thing will happen in Balzan. Similarly, no celebration can take place in parishes such as St George and St. Sebastian in Qormi whose liturgical feasts wwere on the 23rd of Apriland the 20th of January, as well as the various parishes which celebrate St. Joseph.
Some liturgical feasts in Autumn
There are still localities which have a chance to say mass and display the statue in Church on those liturgical feasts which have yet to come such as St. Paul of Rabat commemorating the martyrdom of the saint on June 30, Christ the King in Paola which is commemorated in late November, St. Catherine of Zejtun and Zurrieq on the 25th ‘November, and St. Nicholas of Siġġiewi on the 6th of December.
Pilgrimages can take place when mass activities are allowed
It is still the view of the Church authorities in Malta that when the health authorities allow mass activities, it will be possible to carry out a pilgrimage of prayer and thanksgiving with the various titular and secondary statues. This pilgrimage can be made by all parishes, even where the liturgical feast has been celebrated.