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Worship in the time of coronavirus

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ALL PARISHES are to celebrate the Holy Mass without a congregation until 14 April 2020. Priests are to celebrate only one Mass per day. These Holy Masses are to be livestreamed in their respective parish social media accounts. Parishioners are to be informed on the accessibility of these Holy Masses via different platforms, i.e. parish Facebook account, parish Youtube account, archdiocesan radio station 91.9 Bright FM, etc.

So reads the principal part of the Archdiocese of San Fernando’s directives on Covid-19 issued last March 16, rather late as a number of Pampanga parishes had earlier already cancelled “public” Masses.

Additional directives issued by Archbishop Florentino G. Lavarias are:

Churches and chapels are open.

All chapel celebrations of the Holy Mass are cancelled.

Pilgrimages, processions, and recollections are cancelled.

Church weddings are cancelled. Otherwise, officiate a “kasal disposada.”  (Kasal disposada consists of the basic marriage rites – exchange of vows, blessing, prayers – without the Holy Mass.)

Parish baptisms are cancelled. Otherwise, administer baptisms limited to the presence of parents and godparents.  

No funeral Masses. Only funeral blessings.

No distribution of communion to the sick by the EMDC except viaticum. (Viaticum is administering the Eucharist to a person near death.)

No home blessings and other sacraments.

For all intent and purposes, the observance of the Holy Week – as we are used to it – is effectively cancelled. No Pabasa. No Holy Wednesday and Good Friday processions. No Maundy Thursday Chrism Mass or Washing of the Feet rites. No Visita Iglesia. No Sabado de Gloria vigil Mass. No Salubong on Easter SundayIn my hometown Sto. Tomas: no Pakbung Hudas, no Atlung Maria and estabats, and no Sabuaga too.

Cancellations. The spirit and the operative word of the directives verily sum them up as The 8 Antitheses, no relation, not even the remotest, to Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses or the Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences that he posted on the door of Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517 spawning the Protestant Reformation.

Of efficacy and power, though, we can reflect on Apung Dong’s directives.

Offhand, the power of the archbishop to impose them on the Capampangan clergy. Quick was the cerrado religioso Ian Ocampo Flora of Sta. Rita in raising the red flag over some priests still celebrating Mass with a congregation, even on livestream after the directives officially took effect.

Maybe, just maybe these “disobedient” padres adhere to some article of faith one of their frater raised when Pampanga clerics started cancelling Masses even before the archdiocesan order, to wit:

Busal na pu ning pandemia a dulut ning Covid-19 virus,
bista man ing gobyerno tamu payabut na ing bawal ing pampublikung pamitipun, ding Misa king Parokya… ela pu tuknang, uling ngene tamu mas migit kailangan ing panalangin 
at pamanyawad kasaupan king Dios.

Ding mall edo pasara!

Ding tindahan edo pasara!

Uling balu da ing kailangan da ring tau ing basic a pamangailangan.

O’t manyara ya ing pisamban?

Keti tamu sasaklu king grasya at pakalulu ning Dios a

makarapat agyang king bage imposibli.

Tuluy pu ing Misa, ding bisang simba, simba kayu.

San Carlos

Which brings to mind the story of San Carlos Borromeo, cardinal of Milan at the time of the plague and famine in 1575. While the civil authorities fled the city, Borromeo, unmindful of being infected himself, fed the population daily and led penitential processions, barefooted, holding aloft the relic of the Holy Nail. Yes, one that was used in the crucifixion of Christ. The faith that truly makes saints!       Alas, the reverend I quoted above, mindful of his vow of obedience to his superior, has bowed down to the directives, thus posting: 

Pauli da pu rening tuntunan ibat king gobyerno at Santa Iglesia, nung enarin pu kailangan, manatili na kata na pamu kareng bale tamu.

With a call to reflection though:

…Ngening ing bie tamu makasalale ya keng gamat ning balang metung kekatamu, at king pamanupad king tuntunan a pepayabut da kekatamu, sukat tamung akit ngening Kuaresma na ring bie tamu atilu king gamat ning Guinu at ing pamanupad king kayang kaburian ya ing makaligtas kekatamu…

Among Ambo

A deeper reflection on the “Mass without congregation,” broadening its efficacy as well, is the homily of Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David, which conclusion went, thus:

Sa tanang buhay ko, ngayon lang yata ako nagmisa na walang sambayanan. Pero, ano bang wala, e naririyan pa rin kayo! Hindi man tayo makapagsama-sama sa loob ng simbahan, binigyan naman tayo ng Diyos ng “digital technology,” upang sa pamamagitan ng “livestreaming,” pwede pa rin tayong magsalo-salo, magkabuklod ng puso at diwa kahit na tayo’y malayo sa isa’t isa.

Kuwaresma naman ngayon, di ba? Kailangang mag-fasting o mag-ayuno. Ituring na lang natin ang “community quarantine” bilang fasting. Sa ngayon, fasting muna tayo sa pag-uusap na malapitan, sa paghahawakan ng kamay, sa pagmamano para humiling ng basbas. Fasting muna tayo sa pagyakap at paghalik, sa pag-inom sa iisang timba, para malabanan natin ang pagkalat ng N-Corona virus na ito.

Tatlumpung araw lang naman po, tiisin na natin…

Makikita ninyo, kapag tapos na ang krisis na ito, magiging mas matindi ang mga pagdiriwang natin. Magiging mas mahigpit ang yakap at halik natin, ang haplos at paghawak natin sa isa’t isa. Hindi ba kaya tayo nagpa-fasting ay para maging mas makabuluhan ang ating “feasting” o pagdiriwang? Ngayon pa lang nami-miss ko na ho kayong lahat. Makikita ninyo, itong panandalian paglayo natin ay magbibigay ng mas malalim na kabuluhan sa muling paglapit natin sa isa’t isa.

Mamaya sa Komunyon, kahit hindi kayo makatanggap sa katawan ni Kristo, sa pagsubo ko sa katawan Niya at pag-inom sa dugo Niya, idadalangin ko na mapanatili Niya tayong magkakabuklod sa puso at diwa, sa iisang Espiritung ating tinanggap upang maging iisang sambayanan ng mga alagad, isang katawan ni Kristo. Pagpalain kayong lahat! AMEN.

Oh, that the warmth of spiritual upliftment in Among Ambo’s homily rub off on the stone-cold rigidity of Apung Dong’s directives…

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