Holy Masses go online, traditional Lent activities suspended
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Archdiocese of Cebu has suspended indefinitely the conduct of congregational eucharistic celebrations to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said that recommendations from the Philippine Center for Infectious Disease and Epidemiology (PCIDE) has prompted the archdiocese to stop any activities that can potentially draw crowds.
Masses, processions, dawn rosaries and other similar activities are temporarily suspended as well.
Those who want to get married or have their children baptized are advised to postpone these events until after the spread of the virus has dissipated.
Palma said that although the Masses will no longer be public, the faithful can still tune in through broadcasts should they want to hear liturgical services.
Still, since the internet, radio, or television may not be available for far-flung parishes, the Archbishop has absolved all Catholic Christians from attending Masses until the country’s state of calamity over the Covid-19 has been lifted.
“It is not a sin not to go to Mass at this time because what we are after is to protect the faithful,” said Palma.
As for the upcoming Holy Week, none of the traditional activities from April 5 to 12 will push through including the traditional Palm Sunday Mass, Way of the Cross, or Easter Vigil.
The parishes are encouraged to be creative in their broadcast of these activities in order to bring the essence of the Lenten and Easter seasons to the faithful despite not being able to gather.
Despite not holding Masses, some sacraments are still available to the faithful including anointing of the sick, confessions, and burial rites but guidelines are set for these activities.
Funerals can still be held, but only the immediate family can attend. Anointing of the sick can also be done as long as the priest is informed of the nature of the faithful’s sickness, and the priest must be properly protected. Guidelines for confession can be set by the parishes.
Pilgrimage for the 500th year of the Sto. Niño in Cebu is also suspended until further notice.
While the Church continues to protect its faithful, the archdiocese’s foundation is also working on finding donations for masks, alcohol and other protective equipment for the frontliners.
This serves as the archdiocese’s active approach to contribute to the fight against Covid-19.
On the spiritual side, Palma ordered the ringing of the bells in churches at noon and every 8 pm to remind the faithful to pray the Oratio Imperata.
“We understand this is difficult to do, but this is how we show that we love Cebu, we love our fellowmen, and we love God,” said the archbishop. /rcg
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