Encouragement for Christmas Holidays during the COVID-19 Epidemic

25.12.2020 Božič, COVID19

Due to the state of emergency, this year's Christmas holidays will be different from previous years. Due to the epidemic, the Archdiocese of Maribor and the Dioceses of Celje and Murska Sobota do not allow for the safe celebration of festive liturgy, not even to a minimal extent. In the Archdiocese of Ljubljana and the Diocese of Novo mesto, Holy Masses will be held only at certain times. Simultaneously, in the Diocese of Koper, due to a better epidemiological picture, Holy Masses will take place regularly. In any case, all priests and believers must strictly abide by the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia (cf. Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 190/2020, p. 9454. They must also follow the National Institute of Public Health recommendations and the Instructions of Slovenian Bishops during the COVID-19 epidemic, adopted by the ordinaries on December 18, 2020.

Liturgy and Spiritual Care

In parishes where believers will not participate in Holy Masses during this year’s Christmas holidays, we invite the believers to follow the Holy Masses in the media and receive spiritual communion. They should ask the local minister for the Holy Confession, receive Holy Communion outside the Mass, and contribute their voluntary gift to the home parish or Caritas. Christmas is a holiday when we usually do good deeds, so let those who have been most affected by the epidemic feel a little relief these days. Our churches remain open for personal prayer. Priests, who must follow instructions and recommendations, are available for private conversation, the Sacraments of Anointing of the Sick, Baptism and Matrimony in the immediate family circle.

Celebrating at Home

At Christmas, believers should take time for family members and celebrate the birth of Jesus together at your home manger. Let Baby Jesus become the centre of our home. Anyone living alone should call relatives or friends they have not heard in a long time. This ordeal, the epidemic, is an excellent reason to reach even those we may not have heard from in years. Let us forgive old resentments or injustices and build a bridge to our neighbour. Let us relive the memories of beautiful moments together and shared celebrations. God's birth is a cause for hope, as God showed his face in the new-born child. We can hope even more potent that the future will be better, more beautiful, and brighter.

The time of the epidemic invites us to rediscover personal prayer and thus become leaders of domestic worship. On Holy Evening, December 24, bless your home. Get some blessed water and incense in your church or from your priest and bless your apartment or house, singing and praying. Our homes have become real small family churches this year, and they are places of prayer and worship of God.

Domestic Church

Parents and grandparents living with their grandchildren should profit from the Christmas holidays to talk to young people about faith and God. They should tell them about their memories of celebrating Christmas as children. Where possible, they should revive old customs and traditions. They should accompany narratives with prayer and song, the Word of God, or sacred images. They should celebrate three holy evenings (December 24, December 31, and January 5), pray before meals, especially on festive days, and like to gather at the manger. Parents should help children grow in faith through home catechesis, including reading Bible stories and other activities. The materials are available on the website of Slovenski katehetski urad (Officium catecheticum Sloveniae).

Please respect the instructions and all measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic. We are facing a tremendous historical challenge that requires patience and cooperation. The first step in mutual respect is caring for the most vulnerable in our society. By respecting the measures, we will enable a more peaceful celebration of the Christmas holidays in the home environment, especially for all those who perform professions related to health care and safety.

SBC Secretariat