Filipino Catholics will observe Holy Week this year with lesser restrictions as COVID-19 protocols have been eased, allowing traditional religious activities to return.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines' Episcopal Commission on Liturgy in February issued guidelines on the conduct of Lent and Holy Week activities this year, taking into consideration the COVID-19 protocols set by the government.
Earlier, the Catholic church allowed its members to receive ash crosses on their foreheads again for Ash Wednesday after two years of breaking tradition due to the pandemic.
Here are the other guidelines set by the CBCP for this year's Holy Week:
For the Holy Week in general
- Social distancing protocols and wearing of face masks during church services must be strictly observed. Churches should be sanitized after every liturgical celebration and churchgoers must be provided with alcohol for sanitation.
- In cases of religious processions, coordination with the local government and barangay officials is needed. Processions are limited to roads or streets that will allow for greater possibility of social distancing.
- The use of "carosas" or "andas" to carry religious images is not recommended because this will not ensure social distancing of those who carry these platforms. Instead, it is suggested that these images are carried by motor vehicles.
- Online masses and other religious activities should be made known to the public so they can follow spiritually.
- Popular devotions like "Pabasa" may be organized again, provided that they follow health protocols.
For Palm Sunday
- The celebration of Palm Sunday may begin with the priest at the door of the church or at the church patio. The Mass attendees must be seated or in their places at the start of the celebration.
- The blessing of the palm branches of those joining the Mass through online streaming is given through the Scriptural reading and prayer of blessing. There is no need for holy water for the blessing of their palm branches.
- For the narration of the Passion, the traditional way of different parts or characters assigned to different lectors can push through, with the priest taking the part of Jesus.
For Maundy Thursday
- For the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, a simplified form of the washing of the feet may be done. There is no need for the number of persons whose feet are to be washed to be 12.
- The altar of repose may be set outside the Church if the Church is small and will not be able to accommodate many people for Visita Iglesia.
For Good Friday
- For the Good Friday Mass, the presider alone will do the kissing in the veneration of the cross. The Mass attendees will do the veneration of the cross by making a genuflection or making a profound bow. Marshalls will be stationed near the cross to prevent attendees from kissing or touching the Cross.
- A special intention for COVID-19 victims, doctors and nurses, health workers, the frontliners and those who have died may be added to the Prayers of the Faithful. An intention may also be added for the May 9 elections.
For Easter Sunday
- The Easter Vigil will only be celebrated in cathedrals and parish churches. Special permission is required for those which will be celebrated in chapels and oratories.
- With curfew hours lifted, the time of the celebration is set after sunset, as the Roman Missal requires.
- The “Lucernarium” is done within the Church's building. The priest may also begin the celebration at the door of the church or the church patio, with the Mass attendees remaining in their places.
- The Baptismal liturgy can be done to both adults and children.
- The blessing of water and the "Renewal of Baptismal Promises" is retained.
- In place of a "Salubong", a motorcade of the statue of the Risen Lord may be brought around the parish, with strict coordination with barangay officials to ensure social distancing.