The Philippines has begun the Lenten Season with Catholics still going to churches for Ash Wednesday and church leaders adjusting traditional practices amidst the COVID-19 concerns.
Lenten Season in the predominantly Catholic nation in Southeast Asia began the 40-day religious observation on February 26, 2020, with Ash Wednesday, lasting though the Holy Week until Easter Sunday, April 12. Ahead of Lent, on February 20, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released new precautionary measures to reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus also known as COVID-19.
Ash Wednesday saw priests sprinkling ashes on the crown of the head instead of marking the forehead with a cross to avoid body contact, following the new guideline.
CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles said that the ashes on the crown “signify our repentance from sin, which has marred the grace of Baptism”.
“This is not an innovation but in accord with the ancient practice of the Church,” Archbishop Valles added.
On Good Friday, which falls on ApriI 10, the CBCP strongly recommended that the churchgoers refrain from kissing or touching the cross for veneration.
“Instead, the faithful are requested to genuflect or make a profound bow as they venerate the Cross,” Valles said.
The new measures add to the previous instructions of the CBCP released in January as the novel coronavirus began its spread around the world:
* Communion in the hand was instructed to be the ordinary practice
* Discouraging from holding hands when praying “Our Father” during the Mass
Lent is a solemn reflection and observance of Christ’s sufferings for 40 days. Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sufferings through roleplay and crucifixion.
Another Lenten tradition is the Visita Iglesia or Seven Churches Visitation where Catholics visit seven different churches and recite the prayers at every station of the cross. Intramuros reopened the walled city’s churches during Holy Week for the first time since World War II in 2018. The churches were opened for Visita Iglesia.
The Philippines’ Cardinal Luis Antonio “Chito” Tagle was recently appointed to a seat in the Vatican, the center of the Catholic religion.
TELL US in the comments below how you practice safety during Lent amidst the COVID-19 outbreak?
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