MANILA – The Archdiocese of Manila on Saturday said Filipino Catholics will be commemorating the Holy Week this year differently without the traditional religious activities due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Due to the virus, we are challenged this year to live this most holy week without the traditional external trappings. There is still the Holy Week but we celebrate it differently, and hopefully, more deeply,” said Apostolic Administrator of Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo in pastoral instructions issued on Saturday.
He added that the Church and the faithful would still be celebrating Holy Week, which will officially start on April 5, Palm Sunday until April 12, Easter Sunday but without the usual church activities.
“Due to the coronavirus, our Holy Week this year will be doubly special. But can we have a Holy Week without palms, without the neighborhood singing of the Pasyon, without the Senakulo, the Chrism Mass, the Washing of the Feet, the Visita Iglesia, the Way of the Cross? Without the Good Friday Veneration of the Cross, the procession of the Santo Entierro, the solemn Easter Vigil Mass, the much-awaited Salubong? Stripped of all these, is there still a Holy Week?” he said.
He said on Palm Sunday, the opening of the Holy Week, “Now without palm branches in our hands, we can still welcome the Lord and ask him to enter our homes and our lives by our prayers and fidelity to his commands.”
Pabillo earlier urged the people to watch the Palm Sunday mass on television or online.
“They can place their palms or any branch with leaves near the TV or laptop as they attend the Palm Sunday mass and their palms or branches will be blessed by the prayer and the gospel reading in the celebration,” he said.
As for the Pasyon and watching the senakulo, Pabillo asked the faithful to read the gospel and follow the flow of Jesus Christ.
“It would be rewarding to read all the four gospels during this week,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said the Chrism Mass celebration, during which the sacred oils to be used for holy anointing at Baptism, Confirmation, and Ordination and the oil of the sick are blessed, will be transferred at a later date when the quarantine is lifted.
“The essence of the Last Supper Mass on Holy Thursday evening is the institution of both the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood. This will be celebrated in the Cathedral and in the Parish churches but without the people,” he said.
“The Gospel of John presents the washing of feet instead of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The washing of the feet is an act of lowly service. As in the Eucharist, we receive the same command of the Lord to do likewise. We can very well do this in our homes by the service that we give to one another,” Pabillo added.
As for Good Friday, he said the people may not be able to venerate the cross in the churches but they can give special prominence to the crucifix in their homes.
“It would be good to turn off our electronic gadgets the whole day except to participate in the Veneration of the Cross at 3 o’clock or to listen to the Siete Palabras,” he said.
“We continue in the spirit of silence and prayer on Holy Saturday. We meditate on the descent of Jesus to the realm of the dead to announce salvation to all the just people who came before him. We then join the Easter Vigil celebration online on that Saturday evening,” he added. (PNA)