By Vatican News staff writer
Creativity is key this festive season as curfews, lockdowns, travel limitations and other measures taken by governments across the world to curb the spread of Covid-19 could put a real damper on Christmas celebrations.
Dutch citizens, for example, have just entered a tough second lockdown for at least five weeks, with families urged to welcome no more than two visitors over the age of 13, although an exception will be made for three days around Christmas when they can welcome three.
For believers, the saddest reality is not being able to celebrate the birth of Christ with traditional Carol services and the wonderful Midnight and Christmas Day Masses because singing is not allowed, and because the number of faithful allowed inside churches is so limited.
So, in a creative effort to allow families to celebrate together, and in a worthy manner, the Bishop of Roermond, Harrie Smeets, has decided to preside at Christmas Eve Mass on 24 December at a “Drive-in”
The venue is in the city of Landgraaf, in the south of the Netherlands. He has chosen a large site normally dedicated to music festivals to allow as many people as possible to attend Mass that evening. The diocese reveals that the 500 available parking spaces are already sold out.
A diocesan communiqué informed the faithful that they would be able to follow the Mass from the inside of their car through two mega-screens set up on the podium and with a car radio providing the audio. They are asked to remain in their vehicle during the entire Mass and only people from one household are allowed in each car. And even so, there are strict safety rules in place: no communion given, to make sure that there will be no contact between those in the cars and those outside.
The communiqué also said that during Mass, the lights and the engine of the car must be turned off, and this means that for most cars, the heating will also be off so participants are advised to dress accordingly.
Helping the faithful to celebrate
The many who were unable to register will be able to follow the Mass on television on a local channel.
As regards measures in other physical places of worship, these remain unchanged, with a maximum of thirty people in attendance, and always in strict compliance with health protocols.
To help the faithful celebrate a different kind of Christmas, the Dutch Bishops' Conference has launched a website for the Advent season (www.Vierkerstmis.nl) where it is possible to search for the closest parish, reserve a place at Mass or follow the ceremony via streaming.
The website also offers liturgical booklets for Advent Sundays and the Dutch Bishops’ video message for Christmas.