Celebration of Catholic Masses continue
We cannot help but go on writing about Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) not only because of its impact to every living persons on earth but also because of its widespread infestation all over the world. The Department of Health declared a state of public health emergency due to the increase in cases of COVID-19 infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it pandemic. There is pandemic when new virus emerges and spreads worldwide and the people do not have immunity.
As other countries put themselves on lockdown, President Rodrigo Duterte raised the Code Alert System for COVID-19 to Code Red Sublevel 2 following the sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country. Stringent Social Distancing Measures in the National Capital Region or NCR are to be implemented for 30 days from March 15, 2020 to April 14, 2020. (1) Classes and school activities in all levels are suspended up to April 12, 2020. (2) Mass gatherings are prohibited. (3) A community quarantine is implemented in the entire NCR. Movement of people is limited to accessing basic necessities and work. Enhanced community quarantine may also be imposed where there is strict home quarantine in all households; transportation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential health services shall be regulated and heightened presence of uniformed personnel. This means residents of Metro Manila will not be allowed to leave Metro Manila while those from places outside Metro Manila will not be allowed to enter Metro Manila. The implementing rules and regulations are to be released yet. Possible exceptions are delivery of food items and basic necessities. Also exempted are residents of Metro Manila who are working outside the metropolis, and residents of places outside Metro Manila who are working in Metro Manila. It purports to contain the spread of COVID-19 by implementing stringent measures on social distancing, at least a meter away from another person, and no touch policy.
(4) Alternative working arrangement or work from home, compressed work week. (5) Flexible work arrangement. (6) Mass public transport facilities shall continue in operation. (7) Land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from NCR shall be restricted.
Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio “Ambo” David, Bishop of the Diocese of Kalookan and CBCP Vice President, issued Circular Letter No. 2020-015 giving instructions in view of CBCP Circular No. 20-14. Bishop Ambo explicitly stated (1) the Church “will cooperate with directives from civil and Health authorities to suspend all mass gatherings” to keep our communities safe and healthy. (2) All liturgical celebrations from March 15 to April 14 will not be open to public – this covers the 3 Sundays of Lent, the Holy Week, Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. (3) No public blessing of palms, no Visita Iglesias, Siete Palabras, Good Friday procession and Easter Salubong; the faithful may stay home and follow the activities on TV, radio or online. (4)The priests shall continue to celebrate Masses and liturgical services for Lent and Easter even without the congregation. The Social Communications Ministry in all parishes are encouraged to make them the activities available through social media.
(5) While public assemblies are prohibited, Bishop Ambo gave dispensation to the faithful from their duties to attend Sunday Masses and holy days of obligation. They can follow the liturgical celebrations through television, radio broadcasting, or through livestream in social media. Even in instances where digital technology are not available, “a mere desire to partake of the Eucharist within the given circumstances already unites us spiritually with the Body of Christ.” (6) Except Sundays and holy days of obligation, the parish church will be open so the faithful can pray privately. (7) Defer weddings, baptisms and confirmations until further notice. If cannot be postponed due to the enormity of preparation, there will be severe restrictions as to the number of participants and attendees—to comply with social distancing policy.
(8) The priests shall continue to attend to the anointing of the sick and funeral blessings but must comply with the DOH directives on the number of participants. (9) Priest may hear individual confession by appointment. The penitents may pray inside the church but must keep a safe distance from other penitents. Both the priest and the penitent must wear masks.
(10) Bishop Ambo encourages days of penance, prayer and fasting during all Fridays of Lent and Good Friday. Church bells will be rung 4 times a day – 6am, 12noon, 6pm for the Angelus (or Regina Coeli during Easter) and the Oratio Imperata, and at 8pm for the praying of the Rosary. Use the parish has external loudspeakers so that the faithful may hear the prayers.
Bishop Ambo also enjoins the faithful to be mindful of the poor. “Take this crisis as an opportunity to express genuine care and compassion to the least of our brothers and sisters. In the event that the public health facilities and services become insufficient or unable to adequately respond,” Bishop Ambo asked the faithful to “volunteer and mobilize other volunteers to assist the public sector in attending to the victims.” If there is a need to open the churches, chapels and schools as field hospitals for the sick, do so in the name of Christian compassion and charity.
Let me take this space to thank our Lord for the gift of life. Thank you Lord for all the blessings you had given me. Thank you for the gift of family and the gift of friends. Please continue to give me good health to keep me strong so that I can continue to serve you and others and be a blessing to them. Thank you for making me an instrument to inform and be formed through print, broadcast and social media. Please always guide me and be with me all the days of my life.
Happy Birthday to my niece Raiza Elmira Imperial and my nephew-in-law Charlie Castro. Please bless them always.