COVID-19 protocols were in place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles as Holy Week began with Palm Sunday, which marks Jesus' entry into Jerusalem shortly before his death.
Sunday also marks the second night of Passover, and Easter is one week away.
"This is a moment for us to really reflect on the mystery of our redemption -- the mystery of God's love for us,'' said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. "Jesus carried his cross for us and he died for us. To set us free to live a new life -- to live for God and for the love of our neighbors and families.''
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Gomez celebrated an English-language Palm Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. A Spanish-language Mass was celebrated at 12:30 p.m. by the Rev. David Gallardo, the cathedral's pastor.
Due to ongoing pandemic restrictions, palm branches were handed out by ushers wearing gloves.
Attendance at each Mass was limited to 230 people because of coronavirus-related restrictions. The cathedral has a capacity to seat about 3,000.
Those who did attend in person were required to wear masks and sit six feet apart.
Gallardo said those limits were still an improvement over last year's service when nobody was allowed in person.
"Last year was extremely virtual and that was the oddest Holy Week that any one of us as priests have ever celebrated," Gallardo said.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles continues to encourage the elderly and all those with underlying health problems to stay home and watch Mass through social media.
"As we enter into our second Holy Week in the time of the coronavirus, we are starting to see signs of hope,'' Gomez said. "I encourage you all to read Pope Francis' beautiful and practical letter for this Year of St. Joseph. From St. Joseph's example, the Holy Father writes, we learn that "Our lives can be miraculously reborn if we find the courage to live them in accordance with the Gospel.'"
"In the cross, we see the certainty of God's saving love. One of the saints said, 'While the world changes, the cross stands firm.' This is the lesson we have been learning in this pandemic, in all our disappointments and losses, in all the plans we have been forced to change or abandon.''
City News Service contributed to this report.