Christian churches across the country on Sunday held online Masses and services to comply with the Department of Health’s advisory for people to practice social distancing so as to contain the rapid spread of the new coronavirus.
Isabela Bishop David William Antonio told parishioners that the cancellation of Masses with large numbers of parishioners in attendance was the “moral obligation” of the Church in line with efforts of health and government officials to contain the virus.
The temporary seating arrangement imposed by Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez is intended to ensure the safety of those who attend Masses in all churches in the diocese. Neil Tenefrancia, assistant director of the diocesan commission on mass media of the Borongan Diocese.
In Makati City, Mila Salvador, 62, gathered her grandchildren in the living room and heard Mass aired live on a local television network.
Although convenient and comfortable, Salvador said she still preferred going to church than hearing Mass on TV.
Cris Magbitang, who cele¬brates Mass at the Santo Niño de Taguig Parish, said a major downside of hearing Mass online or on TV was having only a spiritual communion.
Magbitang said it was also harder to get the faithful’s attention when they hear Mass on TV. “But of course, we understand that the government is doing these things for people to be safe and healthy.”
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, released on Sunday a pastoral instruction on how the faithful could make the most out of the online Masses.
Pabillo advised the faithful not to hear the Mass while drinking coffee. He said it would be better to refer to the Catholic Bible Readings Guide before the Mass “to prepare yourselves to hear them better once they are proclaimed in the Eucharist.”
“Have a few moments, too, to think what you are to thank the Lord for and what to offer to him this Mass. It would be good if the whole family in the house joins together in the Mass. Do not just watch the Mass. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.”
At the end of the online Mass, take some moment of silence to read again the Scripture and reflect how, enlightened by the homily, you can live God’s Word that day, Pabillo said. This situation of not being able to come to Church for the Mass is temporary,” he added.
In Cagayan province, social distancing was observed in parishes where there were fewer people hearing Mass.
He said Catholic churches in Piat town continued to hold Masses but churchgoers were subjected to temperature screening. Archbishop Ricardo Baccay of Archdiocese of Tuguegarao has issued a circular telling prelates to use their own “discretion and prudence” in celebrating scheduled and daily Masses.
In Kalinga province, Bishop Prudencio Andaya said Masses would be celebrated but with some restrictions such as holding and shaking of hands.