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PASTORAL GUIDELINES IN TIME OF THE COVID-19 HEALTH EMERGENCY FOR THE CELEBRATION OF HOLY WEEK IN THE DIOCESE OF CUBAO

In the desire of the Church to attend to the needs of the faithful in these trying times, we decree the following guidelines for the priests and religious communities in the Diocese of Cubao:

  • ON THE HOLY WEEK SERVICES
    In accordance with the recent Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (Prot. No. 153/20) and in consideration of the CBCP’s Recommendations for the Celebrations of the Holy Week During the Quarantine Period (2020), we are hereby issuing the following guidelines for the Diocese of Cubao:
  • Palm Sunday 
    For the blessing of Palms, the faithful who will be following the celebration through any media may hold palm branches or any available branch of leaves while the prayer of blessing of Palms is prayed by the Presider.
  • Paschal Triduum
    Except for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Paschal Triduum may only be celebrated in the Cathedral and Parish Churches in the Diocese of Cubao. While the Paschal Triduum is celebrated sine populo, it is important that the faithful are made aware of the schedule of celebrations so that they may follow the live feed (not recorded) through the different media platforms available.
  • Holy Thursday
    The Chrism Mass is postponed to a later date.

    All priests are given the faculty to celebrate in a suitable place, sine populo, the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper at not earlier than 5.30 in the afternoon and finishing not later than 8.00 in the evening.

    The Washing of the Feet is omitted. After the mass, the Blessed Sacrament is placed in the tabernacle. The procession of the Blessed Sacrament is omitted.

    Priests who are unable to celebrate mass should instead pray the Vespers of the day (Liturgy of the Hours).
  • Good Friday
    The Passion of the Lord is to be celebrated in the Cathedral and Parish Churches. 

    Those who participate must refrain from kissing and touching sacred images and statues. In the Universal Prayer, there should be a special intention for the sick, the dead, for those who feel lost or dismayed (cf. The Roman Missal).
  • Easter Sunday
    The Easter Vigil may only be celebrated in the Cathedral and Parish Churches. The celebration may begin not earlier than 5.30 in the afternoon and must finish not later than 8.00 in the evening.

    At “The Solemn Beginning of the Vigil” or “Lucenarium,” the preparation and lighting of the fire is omitted. Instead, the Paschal Candle is lit and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) follows. The “Liturgy of the Word” follows. For the “Baptismal Liturgy” the “Renewal of Baptismal Promises” alone is necessary (cf. The Roman Missal). The “Liturgy of the Eucharist” follows.

    Those who have absolutely no possibility of uniting themselves to the celebration of the Easter Vigil should pray the Office of the Readings for Easter Sunday (cf. Liturgy of the Hours) 
  • Monastic Communities, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Religious Communities and Formation Houses who have been given permission in the previous year, may celebrate the Paschal Triduum in their respective communities.

Except for the parts indicated in these guidelines, all ministers are to celebrate the Paschal Triduum in accordance with the liturgical laws of the Church. These indications are mandated only for the year 2020.

Further, due to the limited sources of food in this time of Enhanced Community Quarantine, I herewith grant dispensation to the faithful in the Diocese of Cubao who may experience the said difficulty, from the disciplinary practice of abstaining from meat on the remaining Fridays of Lent. The faithful who make use of this dispensation are encouraged to practice other sacrificial or charitable acts accompanied by prayer.  

  • ON THE GENERAL ABSOLUTION WITHOUT INDIVIDUAL CONFESSION
    1. Individual confession with absolution remains to be the ordinary way of celebrating the sacrament (Can. 960) but the extraordinary situation we are in presents the grave necessity (Can. 961 §1) that allows us to authorize the granting of the General Absolution without Individual Confession.
    2. It is in this spirit that priests with faculties – especially pastors and chaplains of hospitals – in the Diocese of Cubao are hereby given the permission to grant General Absolution without Individual Confession in situations, which, guided by pastoral prudence, the general absolution is necessary.
    3. Priests are to remind the faithful that the said absolution, in order to be valid, requires from the penitent a votum sacramenti – the intention to confess serious sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation when it is already possible.
    4. The supreme law which is the salvation of souls must therefore animate in us the pastoral creativity needed in this time to be channels of God’s missionaries of mercy and compassion. I trust that priests, while assuring the integrity and sanctity of the sacrament and heeding the precautions mandated by the government and health workers, may dispense effectively the healing balm of God’s forgiveness bring consolation to those who are physically and spiritually infirmed.
    5. Some pastoral considerations: When it is possible, the priest, before imparting the general absolution may request those who are present to join him in prayer. He may lead the praying of the Act of Contrition or other suitable prayers. He may also ask some visible sign of contrition (bowing one’s head, etc.) from those who wish to receive the absolution. 

      The priest must ensure that the penitent is physically present or in the same place. The Apostolic Penitentiary has given the example of granting the general absolution at the entrance of hospital wards, where the faithful, in danger of death are hospitalised. The priest is to make sure that the absolution is heard. Another example is in quarantined areas where the priest may request the penitents to be at their windows or doors to hear and receive the absolution. 

      Priests may coordinate with government agencies and health facilities how we may be of assistance to the sick and the dying while at the same time observing necessary precautions set by health authorities.
  1. ON THE PLENARY INDULGENCE IN TIME OF COVID-19
  1. The Holy Father, through the Apostolic Penitentiary, has conceded the granting of Plenary Indulgence in time of COVID-19 to:
    1. all faithful who are suffering from COVID-19
    2. those who are subject to quarantine in health facilities or in their homes
    3. health care workers and those who take care of victims (such as family members who are exposed to the risk of contagion)
  2. If, in a spirit of sorrow for the sins they may have committed, they do ANY of the following (even through media such as tv, radio, internet, etc.):
    1. spiritually unite themselves to the celebration of the mass;
    2. the recitation of the Holy Rosary;
    3. the Way of the Cross
    4. other forms of devotion;
    5. at least recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and any invocation to the Bessed Virgin Mary;

AND ALSO FULFILL THE FOLLOWING (both):

  1. offer their trials in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters; AND
  2. have the intention to fulfill the following conditions when it is already possible: sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion, and praying for the intentions of the Holy Father.
  1. The Plenary Indulgence is ALSO imparted to ALL FAITHFUL who fulfill ANY of the following:
    1. visit to the Blessed Sacrament;
    2. Eucharistic adoration; 
    3. reading of the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour; 
    4. recitation of the Holy Rosary or the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy; 
    5. the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross

AND ALSO FULFILL THE FOLLOWING (both):

  1. implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord as called to himself; AND
  2. have the intention to fulfill the following conditions when it is already possible: sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion, and praying for the intentions of the Holy Father.
  • When the Anointing of the Sick or Viaticum is impossible. “The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended (cf. Enchiridion indulgentiarum, no.12).” 

The Apostolic Penitentiary offers a beautiful insight in these extraordinary times: “Never before has the Church experienced thus the power of the communion of saints, raising to her Crucified and Risen Lord her vows and prayers, especially the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, celebrated daily, even without the presence of the people, by priests.”

  • We ask all priests to exert effort in catechizing the faithful to aid them in understanding and meaningfully receiving these spiritual gifts. May priests reach out to those who will benefit most from the Church’s treasury of grace – the sick and the dying.

I ask all priests, especially those whose parishes and communities have hospitals, health facilities and quarantined areas (including areas with PUI’s and PUM’s), to make yourselves available to the people during these difficult moments. 

Let us not abandon the flock entrusted to our care. Do not forget the poor. When they seek, be sure you are to be found. When they knock, be sure to open. When they ask, be sure to give.

Most importantly, take courage my brother priests. In the light of the Lord’s Resurrection, there is joy, there is hope.

May Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of Priests, be our advocate and help in obtaining for us the grace we need to fulfill our mission.

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