MANILA – There will be no Masses in all churches under the Archdiocese of Manila for six days starting on Saturday after the alert on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has been raised to Code Red Sub-level 2.
“We are enjoined to avoid large gatherings of people to avert the further spread of the virus. We heed this call not with panic but with care for charity to others and the common good. Hence in the Archdiocese of Manila, I dispense all the faithful from the obligation of going to Mass this Sunday. There will be no public celebration of the Holy Mass and no public activities in all the churches in the Archdiocese for seven days, starting Saturday, March 14, till Friday, March 20,” said Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, in a Pastoral Letter dated March 13.
While recognizing the impact of the measure, Pabillo urged the clergy and the faithful to do this in the spirit of sacrifice for the good of all.
“Within the week we will monitor more fully the situation in coordination with health agencies and government bodies. Further instructions will then be issued in the coming days. Please keep in touch with the official website of the Archdiocese of Manila in order to be updated and to avoid fake news,” he said.
He also asked churches to ring their bells every 12 noon and 8 p.m. starting this Saturday and also to pray the Oratio Imperata prayer to fight this virus.
“Although we will not be able to come to Holy Mass, this does not mean that we no longer can come to the Lord. We should all the more strive to be in touch with Him by fervent prayer. Thus from March 14 onwards let all the bells of our churches be rung every twelve o’clock noon and eight o’clock in the evening to call all people to pray the ORATIO IMPERATA prayer to fight this virus. Let us join in this prayer,” Pabillo said.
He also urged families to gather at 8 p.m. to pray for divine protection
“After the Oratio Imperata, the families can pray the rosary and read the Scriptures. The fervent prayers of all the people of God will draw us closer to him and away from the scourge of this disease,” he added.
Pabillo urged the faithful to use social media and other means of communication to help us in our faith.
“Please tune in to Radio Veritas 846 and TV Maria for their regular broadcasts of Masses and other religious activities. Quiapo and other churches also have live streaming of their Mass. We will coordinate with other media outlets to participate in our noon and evening prayers. You can also follow the daily readings of the Mass by reading your Bible. The Word of God in the Scriptures gives us hope, strength, and guidance. Being in community quarantine can be an opportunity to be more present to our loved ones and to the Lord,” he added.
He also reminded the public not to panic and consider also the needs of other people in this time of crisis.
“Charity opens our attention and our hearts to others. Let not fear run our lives. Hence we avoid panic buying. We should not consider only our needs but also the needs of others,” Pabillo said.
He also called on parishes to continue to sanitize the churches and its surroundings for those who would still like to visit and offer prayers.
“I enjoin the parishes and places of prayer to be open all day so that people may come and find solace in silent prayer. However, let sanitizers be available at the entrances and let the churches be regularly cleaned. For the moment let us not organize Kumpisalang Bayan to avoid large gatherings of people but let all priests give definite time to hear individual confessions during the day to be of service to the penitents who come. Although there are risks, priests must be available to visit the sick and minister to them. In time of crisis, people need the Lord, and the priests show God’s nearness by their presence among the people,” he added.
Also, the Diocese of Cubao will cancel masses in churches from March 14 until March 20.
“In the diocese of Cubao there will be no masses in churches starting tomorrow until March 20. People will be dispensed from their Sunday obligations,” Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said in an interview.
At the same time, Ongtioco revealed that bishops in the National Capital Region (NCR) will have a meeting on Friday night to discuss their common guidelines during the implementation of the community quarantine of Metro Manila. (PNA)