COVID-19 has changed the world works—religious gatherings included.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released guidelines for liturgical celebrations, such as mass, under the "new normal" brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
CBCP uploaded a statement on their website, reminding believers to act "with prudence, patience and loving and charitable mindset" as they "approach this next phase in the context of the pandemic."
"We believe that following these guidelines is a reasonable sacrifice. For the interest of the common good, and ultimately to best serve our own community, we want to contribute to solve this crisis and soon be freed from the threat of the pandemic," it said.
The elderly, the sick, and young children are urged to stay at home and are advised to watch televised or livestreamed versions of the Holy Eucharist.
People going to Mass in church will be required to wear face masks. Churches must have specific entrances and exits to ensure that Mass goers observe social distancing.
Main image from Fmgverzon on Wikimedia Commons.
Before entering the church, individuals must undergo temperature checks and a disinfecting foot bath. These are requirements of the Department of Health. Pews will have markers to inform attendees where they can sit while still observing proper social distance.
Hand sanitizers should be available at the entrances of the church.
Priests, lay ministers, and choir members are all required to wash and sanitize their hands after each Mass. They must wear masks, except for the priest. “Instead, he should remain more than 1 meter from the congregation during Mass,” the statement said.
All individuals present for the Mass are prohibited from holding hands during the singing or praying of the Our Father. Getting close to others during the Sign of Peace segment is also not allowed.
Priests and lay ministers must wear masks and sanitize their hands before distributing the Holy Communion, only on the hand and not the mouth. Markers must be placed on the floor to help individuals observe social distancing while in line.
The offertory procession and preparation of the gifts will be omitted to limit physical contact.
A fewer number of lectors, altar servers, and choir members will help celebrate the Holy Eucharist to comply with social distancing guidelines. Ushers and collectors must be retrained to help parishioners follow the new Mass guidelines.