The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has released a circular on Friday urging the faithful to physically attend Sunday Masses in churches amid the weakening situation of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We strongly encourage our faithful to return to the Sunday Eucharist with a purified heart, renewed amazement, and increased desire to meet the Lord, to be with him, to receive him and bring him to our brothers and sisters with the witness of a life full of faith, love and hope,” CBCP President Pablo Virgilio David said in the circular.
While Bishop David encouraged the faithful to return to attending the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, he as well reminded them that health protocols must carefully be observed to continuously protect the faithful from being infected by the virus.
“Health protocols are still to be implemented in our parish churches and venues for the liturgical celebrations. We make sure that our faithful are convinced that they are safe in our churches and venues for the liturgical celebrations,” Bishop David said.
Bishop David also reminded the faithful through the circular addressed to all bishops and diocesan administrators that the “Act of Spiritual Communion” is a devotional prayer and not a liturgical prayer.
“Therefore it should not be prayed aloud when communion is received by the faithful in attendance in our celebrations. The “Act of Spiritual Communion” is intended for those who are following the celebration online. It is better projected on the screen for those following the Mass online,” he said.
He also added that “constant catechesis on the necessity of our faithful to return to our churches for the Sunday Eucharist should be explained in our homilies and in our catechesis,” as stated in Canon 898 of the Church’s Canon Law.
While many churches continue to do live streaming of the Mass, the bishop said that they are in the process of evaluating and studying the frequency of the celebrations of the Mass by live streaming. He added that greater coordination in the diocese is needed on this issue.
On March 13, 2020, CBCP issued a circular letter to the faithful entitled “Depending on the given circumstances, the Local Ordinaries may exercise their prerogative to dispense the faithful from the Sunday and the Holy Days of Obligation” (cf. Circular No. 20-14, n.2).
In the same circular letter, CBCP also pushed for providing the celebration of the Eucharist through virtual means by internet, radio and television. The decision to hold Mass via social media was the result of the government’s stricter measures to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus. (Jheng Prado | Photo File by RCAM-AOC)