The Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa (AVPP) leaves to the discretion of the priests assigned to the parishes of the City to follow or not the CBCP’s recommendation regarding the sprinkling of the ashes on the crown of the head of the faithful on Ash Wednesday due to Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) threat.
“In view of the CBCP’s recommendations…, please know that I leave to your discretion to follow the said recommendation or not inasmuch as you know better the situation of your parish,” part of Apostolic Vicar Socrates Mesiona’s announcement on Feb. 21, address to all priests under the AVPP.
The CBCP on Feb. 20 issued the second Liturgical Guidelines that contains temporary changes in the observance of Lenten season in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Addressed to all bishops and dioceses in the country, the CBCP suggested to sprinkle the ash to the crown of head of the faithful instead of marking the forehead with a cross that was the customary practice by of the Catholic Church during Ash Wednesday.
This year, as the season of Lent will start on Feb. 26, the Bishops’ Conference issued precautionary measures through their social media page on Feb. 20 in order “to reduce the transmission of the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“Our charity is also expressed in our concern for the well-being of our brothers and sisters, thus our utmost care and efforts towards the prevention of the spread of COVID-29,” CBCP President, Archbishop Romulo Valles said.
He added that ash will “signify our repentance from sin, which is marred the grace of baptism.”
“This is not an innovation but in accord with the ancient practice of the Church,” CBCP President Valles explained.
And apart from the changes on the way the ash is put to the devotees, the blessing with holy water may be done only after the mass when requested. This is because the placing of water in holy water fonts at the entrance of churches is still suspended up to now.
And during “Good Friday” on April 10, Archbishop Valles added that the CBCP “strongly” recommended that the churchgoers “refrain” from kissing or touching the cross for veneration during the celebration of the Passion of the Lord. Instead, the faithful “are requested to genuflect or make a profound bow as they venerate the Cross.”
As for the AVPP, one of the two vicariates in the Province of Palawan, Bishop Mesiona prefers to discuss the matter on another time before the Holy Week.
Last month, the parishioners also told to temporarily receive the Holy Communion by hand and refrain from holding hands when praying “Our Father.”
In the advent of COVID-19, the CBCP also issued an “Oratio Imperata” in order to stop the spread of the contagious disease of which more than 75,000 people worldwide, mostly from China, got infected.
The CBCP also reminded the faithful not to forget the call for renewal “in our Christian life by self-control, charity and prayer.”
The pandemic COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-novel Corona Virus can be transmitted from one person to another. This is possible through droplets from the eyes, nose and cough—the reasons why the Church heeds the advice of the Health Department, that is, to avoid direct contact, specifically by touching a person’s face, nose and mouth.