Their first kiss as husband and wife, before God and men, seals the union between Filipino couples. It's that picture-perfect moment that gets the most likes on Facebook. During the COVID-19 pandemic that requires face coverings and the barest physical contact, is it allowed?
Yes, you can still have the "kiss the bride" moment, said Father Reginald Malicdem, rector of the Manila Cathedral, the Philippines "Mother Church" and dream wedding destination for many. The caveat? The newly married couple is assumed to be responsible for each other's health.
DO BRIDES NEED WEDDING MASKS?
At the Manila Cathedral, bride and groom can decide whether or not they will wear a face mask during the ceremony, that's because during the wedding, they are seated at a far enough distance from the priest and their guests, Malicdem told reportr.
During the post-ceremony photo session, the couple can pose beside their parents, assuming they live in the same house. Photos with close frieds are discouraged, Malicdem said. In fact, guest are limited depending on the size. At the Manila Cathedral, masses are capped at 80 attendees.
"May mga protocols talagang ginawa ang simbahan (The church really made protocols). We could still celebrate the sacraments at the same time we are observing safety protocols," he said.
WHAT ABOUT BAPTISMS?
The ritual pouring of holy water over the baby's head to welcome the infant to Catholicism is still being practiced as long as the priest's hands don't touch the kid, Malicdem said.
For the anointing with chrysm or holy oil, cotton is used for application. It's the same workaround used during confirmation, Malicdem said.
WHAT ABOUT COMMUNION AND CONFESSION?
Priests and lay people are required to sanitize their hands before communion. The faithful also need to sanitize their hands before lining up. Strictly, the host is given to the hand and not from hand to mouth, he said.
Depending on the configuration of the Church structure, parishes are finding ways to allow confession during quarantine. The general instruction is to hold them in open spaces. Some churches have installed barriers between the priest and the penitent, he said.
WILL ONLINE MASSES CONTINUE?
Yes, for as long as quarantine rules require reduced physical contact in public spaces, Malicdem said. The Manila Cathedral streams its masses thrice a day on weekdays, once a day on Saturdays and thrice a day on Sundays.
The Church still accepts donations, and the Manila Cathedral flashes its bank account details and QR codes at the end of its online masses that attract up to 38,000 viewers on Sunday mornings.