For the Catholic Church, Holy Week would still be commemorated but at a different level because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under Circular 20-15 issued by Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), all bishops and diocesan administrators were urged to continue to celebrate Lent even without an assembly of the faithful.
Valles said it would just be a simple celebration because no masses or processions will be held.
All Masses and prayers will be done online.
“We remind all priests that we will continue to celebrate the Holy Week and Paschal Triduum even in the absence of our assembly. The celebrations will be simpler this year because of the absence of our faithful but we will make every effort to keep the dignity and solemnity of our celebrations by following the liturgical form by which the Church has entrusted to us these celebrations,” the circular stated.
The CBCP advised “all believers “to keep the prescribed social distancing, hygiene protocols and sanitation of our spaces for the liturgy.”
“It is beneficial for the people to follow the live streaming of the celebrations. Every diocese is encouraged to livestream their celebrations. The online celebrations should also aim at generating an affinity of the faithful to the local Church. The importance of the domestic/family church stands out during this time. Like the early Church which was a “Domus Ecclesiae,” a domestic/family church our families will come together to celebrate the great mysteries of our faith uniting themselves with the local Church through the celebrations transmitted though internet, TV or radio.”
For Palm Sunday, the CBCP recommended two options. For the blessing of palms, the faithful who will be following the celebration on TV can hold their palm branches (or any available branch of leaves) while the prayer of blessing of palms is being said. In this case, for those who follow the celebration on TV, there is no need for Holy Water to bless the palm branches.
After the Mass, the presider can go around the streets of the parish at a previously announced time to bless the palms without using Holy Water, of the faithful who wait in front of their homes. The priest makes the sign of the cross as he passes through the streets. A loud speaker may be used to make people aware that the priest is passing by. The lector also reads the “Passion Narrative” along the way.
All of these must be done with only two to three ministers to accompany the priests.
For Holy Thursday the CBCP further recommended that there shall be a Chrism Mass.
Only the clergy will be allowed inside the church, observing social distance, hygiene and sanitation.
For the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the number of persons whose feet will be washed may be reduced.
After the Mass, the priest, with only two or three ministers, may carry the Blessed Sacrament in a Ciborium with humeral veil, and go around the parish on board a pick-up vehicle. People with lighted candles will wait in front of their homes.
On Good Friday, the faithful had been urged to reflect on the Lord’s Passion through TV, internet and radio.
On Easter Sunday, the liturgy will be followed but there will be fewer ministers and choir members. After the Easter vigil celebration, the presider will ride on a pick-up vehicle carrying the Blessed Sacrament in monstrance and goes around the parish. The parishioners with lighted candles may bring to the door or windows of their homes the statue of the Blessed Mother. This will be the Salubong.
If there will be baptism, only the parents and godparents will be allowed inside the church.