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Palm Sunday masses: Some physical, mostly virtual

Unlike last year, some Catholic Churches will hold physical masses for the blessing of palm fronds as the country observes today the second Palm Sunday under the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - March 28, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Unlike last year, some Catholic Churches will hold physical masses for the blessing of palm fronds as the country observes today the second Palm Sunday under the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a text message, Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo said that he will hold masses physically, but most churches opted to conduct the celebration in front of cameras to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

“Palm Sunday celebrations will be mostly online,” Pabillo said in Filipino.

The Philippines observes Palm Sunday today, signaling the start of the Holy Week.

Under the new guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF), indoor religious gatherings are allowed once-a-day from April 1 to 4, with attendance limited to 10 percent of the seating capacity of churches.

Quiapo Church parochial vicar Fr. Douglas Badong said they will not change the liturgy for Palm Sunday today, as he emphasized that they will continue holding masses physically without the active participation of the faithful.

“Before the blessing of palm fronds, there will be no one inside the church. And to enable people to have mass they will be allowed to pass by the church, but there will be no active participation from the faithful,” Badong said in Filipino.

He said that the faithful who wish to have their palm fronds blessed may pass by the Quiapo Church anytime tomorrow until Easter Sunday as the lay ministers and the hijos will do the physical blessing of their palms.

Badong, however, clarified that they encourage the faithful to attend virtual masses, instead of going outside of their house to attend the celebration for Palm Sunday, to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Those who will drop by the Quiapo Church are encouraged to strictly comply with the health protocols of the government, specifically on the wearing of face masks and face shields and the strict adherence to social distancing measures.

In another development, Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos urged the Catholic faithful to be like Jesus Christ and set aside their fear amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines.

“Jesus knows what lies ahead. His entry to Jerusalem is the beginning of His passion, death and resurrection. And yet Jesus did not avoid it. He did not withdraw. He did not abandon the Father’s will. He goes to Jerusalem,” Santos said.

“The pandemic is still very much around us. There is still COVID-19. It is not stopping or slowing down. It is even surging on, especially in the Philippines. There is still a cross to bear.

We could have our own crucifixion. But like Jesus, let us not be afraid,” he added.

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