MANILA – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday urged the faithful to pray hard during the observance of the Holy Week as the country deals with the coronavirus crisis.
"My first advice to them is to pray hard as a family. They should be together. They should pray together and invoke the name of the Lord, so that the Lord may constantly be with them in this time of crisis," said CBCP spokesperson Fr. Jerome Secillano, as millions are told to stay home to rein in the spread of the highly contagious disease.
In an interview on ANC, Secillano said Filipino Catholics should focus during liturgical celebrations, which will be conducted through television, radio or online.
"If the Mass is ongoing, they should refrain from doing other things… Be focused on the celebration and pray," he said.
In the absence of face-to-face confession as churchgoers are prevented from congregating, the faithful should be sincere in being sorry for the sins they have committed, Secillano added.
"I think, right now, the only thing that should matter is our relationship with God," he said.
The CBCP released guidelines for bishops and priests in the country on how to celebrate the liturgies of Holy Week, which falls from April 5 (Palm Sunday) to April 12 (Easter Sunday).
For the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the CBCP said each priest may celebrate the mass alone, which “is due to the intrinsic connection between the priesthood and the Eucharist, the anniversaries of which are highlighted in the liturgical celebration of this evening.”
Good Friday liturgy usually includes the Veneration of the Cross. Adhering to the earlier decree from the Vatican, the CBCP reminded priests and the faithful that “the Presider alone will do the kissing in the Veneration of the Cross.”
For the Easter vigil, the CBCP said it is to be celebrated only in a cathedral and parish churches and should be held not earlier than 5 p.m.
Filipino Catholics can also observe Holy Week activities through an online Visita Iglesia, which can be accessed at www.cbcpnews.net/visitaiglesia.
As of Tuesday, the Philippines reported 3,764 coronavirus infections, including 177 deaths and 84 recoveries.