My dear people of God in the Archdiocese of Manila,
We worship the Lord even in these days of pandemic. It is sad that we will again be physically limited during the holiest days of the year for us. We follow the minimum standards of the health protocols but we continue to pray and worship the Lord. We will not have any religious activity outside of our churches such as senakulo, pabasa, processions, motorcades, and visita iglesia. But within our churches starting March 24 we will have our religious worship within 10% of our maximum church capacity. Let the worshippers be spread apart within our churches, using the health protocols that we have been so consistently implementing.
The instructions on how each celebration of the Holy Week will be done will be issued by our Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission in a few days. The following, however, are some things that we will highlight:
- On Holy Wednesday we will proceed with the Consecration of the Holy Chrism and the Blessing of the Oil of the Sick in the Manila Cathedral during the 7:30 am Mass. The renewal of the priestly promises will be done in a later date when the priests can gather together. The simple Chrism Mass will be attended only by a few priests and a few faithful but I encourage all in the archdiocese to participate through our online facilities. Let us be united as an archdiocese in this significant celebration.
- We invite all the faithful to tune in to the social media platforms of the Diocese of Maasin for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the first Mass in Limasawa at 10:00 am. We will join via online with the whole country for this celebration on March 31, the very day of the first Mass in 1521.
- On Holy Thursday morning I invite all to join in the online Archdiocesan Way of the Cross at 8:00 am to be covered by TV Maria, Radio Veritas, and the online platforms of our parish social communications. Let us join together as an archdiocese in accompanying the Lord in his last hours, begging for his mercy in this time of the pandemic.
- During the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, the Lord Jesus gave us the new commandment to love one another as he loved us. We concretely show this love by caring for the poor. Let every parish distribute material help to people who are most affected by the lack of food during these days of the pandemic. You can use the amount you have collected for the Alay Kapwa program since the beginning of Lent. I would like to invite those who still have something to spare to augment this collection to feed the hungry.
- At the end of the Last Supper Mass on Holy Thursday, there will be prayers before the reposed Blessed Sacrament in each parish for about an hour which will be covered online. Let each watch and pray with Jesus from their homes for an hour in silent adoration and worship.
- On Good Friday the parishes can organize their own online Way of the Cross and reflections on the Seven Last Words of Jesus. Let each one of us spend this day in sober prayer and fasting, meditating on the love of God for us as he offers his Son so that we may live and not perish.
- The collection during the Veneration of the Cross in the afternoon of Good Friday will be for the Christians in the Middle East. They are suffering not only from the pandemic but also from the years of wars that their countries have experienced and are still experiencing. Let us be generous in helping them.
- On Holy Saturday I invite all to join TV Maria and Radio Veritas in the Tenebrae at 8:00 am. It is a set of prayers that commemorate the death of the Lord Jesus.
- The most meaningful celebration of the whole year is the Easter Vigil Mass, which will be done in all parishes. All are invited to join online, meditating on God’s Word and participating in the death and life of Jesus.
- On Easter Sunday, we will join the whole country in opening the 500 years of the coming of Christianity. We will start with the opening of the Holy Door at the Manila Cathedral at 10:00 am. I ask you all to join online in this celebration. In the coming days there will be the opening of the Holy Doors of the other jubilee churches in the Archdiocese. We have 12 jubilee churches in the Archdiocese for this year. We gain a plenary indulgence every time we visit any of these Churches.
Although we are limited in our attendance in the religious services that we do during these days, let us make up with intensity what we lack in physical presence. God knows the intentions of our hearts, and any effort that we do to draw close to him he readily recognizes and appreciates. Even in our homes, through our online participation, we can worship God. To him be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Yours truly in Christ Jesus,
+ BRODERICK S. PABILLO
Apostolic Administrator of Manila
March 23, 2021