Menu Close

“GUIDELINES ON THE CELEBRATION OF THE LITURGY IN TRANSITION TOWARDS THE NEW NORMAL”

ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF CUBAO
DIOCESAN MINISTRY FOR LITURGICAL AFFAIRS

“GUIDELINES ON THE CELEBRATION OF THE LITURGY IN TRANSITION TOWARDS THE NEW NORMAL”

Section I – INTRODUCTION

The time that has been dedicated to community quarantine unveiled unto us the reality and gravity of this pandemic.  The efforts exerted by both government and private institutions are geared towards providing sustenance to the disease-stricken communities worldwide. We recognize all the recommendations and guidelines of the competent authorities in putting a stop to the spread and in recovering from the effects of this virus.  In the same measure of effort to sustain the lives of people,  the  Church may not set aside the interior life of her faithful. Hence, we continued to nourish the spiritual life of the people by creatively adapting to the circumstances of this pandemic. Nevertheless, Pope Francis reminds us, “This is the Church in a difficult situation that the Lord  is  allowing,  but  the  idea  of  the  Church  is  always  with  people  and  with  the sacraments.” This impresses upon us a new locus in exercising the faith and living the identity of the Church.

In view of this, we see the development of new normalcy into which we cannot abruptly jump. Therefore, we recommend a gradual process of shifting from the current state of celebrating the faith towards the new normal, carefully considering the laws of the government and of the Church.

The  Diocesan  Ministry for  Liturgical  Affairs strongly proposes that the following recommendations be submitted for approval/recognition of the  Local  Government of Quezon City who in Executive Order No. 112 of the President of the Philippines has been granted the authority to lift,  impose or extend community  quarantine.  (EO  112, Sec. 2)

Section II –  SOME GENERAL PROVISIONS

A. ON SAFETY AND HYGIENE

  1. We keep our churches open to people while observing specific norms such as strict physical distancing of 1.5 meters, the wearing of face masks, and disinfecting before entering the church premises.
  2. Dedicated entrances and exits must be  identified and marked with  respective signages for the proper flow of  people.  We encourage the use of alcohol and foot-bath trays for disinfection at the entrances and exits of the church.
  3. Holy Water fonts must remain empty.
  4. Disinfection  of equipment and  premises such as  microphones,  ambo,  and chairs must be practiced regularly.
  5. If possible, body temperature of parishioners must be checked in all entrances before allowing them to enter the premises.
  6. We discourage the use of the air-conditioning units of churches.
  7. If Eucharistic Adoration Chapels are small, they may be kept closed.
  8. The staff of churches must make sure that people will observe the norms set. Parish staff must always wear face masks.
  9. Senior citizens,   children,   the sick, and those who are with ailments are not encouraged to go out of their homes.

B. ON THE MINISTERS

  1. We recommend that only those who are allowed by the age provision of the norms of the government will be asked to serve and assist during the respective phases of community quarantine (ECQ, GCQ, etc).
  2. Those who are with ailments and are immunocompromised will not be allowed to practice their ministries in the church.
  3. All Priests and lay ministers who take part and assist in the celebrations wash and sanitize their hands before and after each celebration.
  4. The priests may wear face masks to presiding in the liturgy. Lay  Ministers  (EMHCs,  Lectors, Altar  Servers,  et al)  must wear face masks when they are not to speak to lead in prayer, give instructions, or proclaim something to the assembly.
  5. They should practice proper physical distancing in the sanctuary. Therefore, only a minimal number of EMHCs, altar servers, and lectors need to be in the sanctuary.
  6. The number of choir members who will sing during the  celebrations needs to  be reduced so as to keep social distancing. It may even be advisable to have only one cantor who will lead in the singing of the assembly.
  7. When a number of choir members are to sing, they must position themselves in a manner where no one is in front of each member.
  8. All ministers, including the priest must have their own personal protective cloth to cover the microphone they are  using.  The protective cover should always be replaced.
  9. This year, DMLA will forego of the Annual Renewal of Ministers in the Diocese of Cubao. Nevertheless, we encourage parishes to recruit new and young ministers as we adapt to the new normal. Parish Priests will be responsible for their formation and training.

C. ON THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA:

  1. We recommend that priests, lay ministers, liturgy animators be reminded of the need to observe the proper way of celebrating the Holy Mass, adhering to the pertinent norms.
  2. We recommend that parishes and communities organize and empower their Parish Social Communications Ministry.
  3. We recommend that parishes invest in the necessary equipment for live-streaming of masses and other parish activities.
  4. We recommend that those assisting and serving in the  Livestream or broadcasted Masses should participate in the celebration fully.
  5. Proper catechesis must be given regularly to those who are participating electronically in the celebrations of the liturgy.
  6. Families must be encouraged to pray together in their homes in the absence of the chance to go to church.

Section III – THE 3-PHASE TRANSITION

We are looking at a  3-Phase  Transition from the current situation towards the new normal.  In this gradual transition, we are providing specific guidelines adapting to the different possible scenarios in the celebration of the liturgy.

(1)PHASE 1 – THE POST ECQ PHASE (GENERAL COMMUNITY QUARANTINE)

When the Enhanced Community Quarantine has been lifted, we presume to be placed under the  General  Community  Quarantine when routine may partially return to normal,  except for the local communities which will be placed under an extended or modified community quarantine. In this phase, public celebration of the mass, where people may gather together,  is presumed to remain prohibited.  In  this  phase,  the Diocesan Ministry for Liturgical Affairs recommends the following:

ON THE CELEBRATION OF THE MASS

  1. Live streaming of the mass and other pious devotions,  therefore,  is encouraged, observing proper liturgical norms.
  2. The General Provision in Section II must be strictly observed.
  3. For other instructions,  you may consult our earlier diocesan guidelines  (March 2020).

ON THE CELEBRATION OF BAPTISM

  1. A community celebration of the sacrament of baptism is discouraged. Only individual baptisms will be allowed (children and adults).
  2. The  Baptistry,  Baptismal  Font, and other materials for the sacrament must be disinfected after each celebration. The minister may use cotton in applying Holy Chrism on the child. The used cotton must be burned after each celebration.
  3. During individual baptisms,  only the parents and one set of godparents will be permitted to approach the font.  The number of attendees must not exceed the prescribed number of people allowed to gather together as mandated by the government (i.e. 10 persons).
  4. Encourage the faithful to celebrate the  Sacrament of  Baptism on weekdays to prevent crowding of people on weekends.

ON THE CELEBRATION OF CONFIRMATION

  1. A community celebration of the sacrament of confirmation  (Kumpilang  Bayan)  is discouraged.  Individual confirmation may be celebrated but will be limited to adults preparing for marriage.
  2. Proper catechetical formation must still be given.
  3. The use of cotton in anointing with the holy oil is allowed;  used cotton must be burned after the celebration.

ON THE CELEBRATION OF RECONCILIATION

  1. The  Diocesan  Bishop  continues  to  allow  the  granting  of  General  Absolution following the guidelines released by the diocese (March 2020).
  2. Confessions through phone,  video call,  or any digital medium are not allowed.
  3. These means may be used in giving spiritual direction and counseling.
  4. Individual confessions may be done by appointment. We do not recommend the use of confessionals.  The parish may provide a  suitable space for the sacrament while observing all necessary protocols. A space with good air circulation and privacy may be dedicated for individual confessions,  which must be disinfected regularly.  We trust the creativity and the strategy of priests in accommodating individual penitents without compromising Church norms and public health and safety.
  5. When hearing confessions, both the priest and the penitent must wear masks. They must observe safe and proper distancing.
  6. When individual confession is not possible, as in the case of a patient in quarantine, an Act of Perfect Contrition may be done. An Act of Perfect Contrition always has been a part of our  Catholic tradition.  God is always present to us,  even when the  Sacrament of Reconciliation is not possible. While a priest cannot give absolution over the phone, he can use the phone to give a  blessing and even guide a  person through an  Act of  Perfect Contrition. This is provided the person expresses faith in and love of God above all things and resolves to make a sacramental confession as soon as possible. All his or her sins, even mortal sins, are forgiven.

ON THE PASTORAL CARE FOR THE SICK

  1. When the Sacrament of Anointing is possible, both the priest and the patient must wear face masks and observe proper distancing. During the anointing with the holy oil, the priest must use cotton which must be burned after the anointing.
  2. When the  Sacrament of Anointing is not possible,  the priest may make use of the Rite of  Blessing for the Sick.
  3. “The blessing of the sick by the ministers of the Church is a very ancient custom, having its origins in the practice of Christ himself and his apostles. When ministers visit those who are sick, they are to respect the provisions of Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum, nos. 42-56, but the primary concern of every minister should be to show the sick how much Christ and his Church are concerned for them.” (Rite of Blessing, no. 376)

ON THE CELEBRATION OF MATRIMONY

  1. Only simple weddings,  without an entourage,  will be accommodated.  Only a maximum of ten persons, including the spouses, the parents, and a set of sponsors, will be allowed in the celebration.
  2. If possible, only the Rite of Marriage outside the Mass will be celebrated.
  3. Basic norms for safety laid in the General Provisions must be strictly observed.

ON THE CELEBRATION OF FUNERALS

  1. Funeral masses are prohibited as all public masses are not allowed.
  2. Priests and  Ministers may perform the funeral rites outside the mass with final commendation.
  3. We recommend that parishes offer one (1) mass every week for the dead. This mass may be offered for the deceased members of the parish and especially for those who have died of COVID-19.
  4. During the Community Quarantine, the Diocesan Bishop will allow the parishes to provide a temporary sanctuary for the urns of the deceased. The sanctuary for the remains of the deceased may accommodate parishioners in need during the quarantine and until the inurnment is possible.  Parishioners who will need the sanctuary must sign a waiver provided by the Chancery of the Diocese of Cubao.

(2) “PHASE 2: General Community Quarantine and PARTIAL Restoration of Public Mass”

In this phase,  we presume that we may celebrate public masses but with strict compliance with the rules and guidelines.  In this phase,  we gradually restore the celebration of the mass in the church. Yet, the diocese must consider issues such as of the aged, children, the sick, the immunocompromised, those who are still afraid and worried of the contagion, et al. In this case, DMLA recommends:

ON THE CELEBRATION OF THE MASS

  1. The Bishop maintains the dispensation from Sunday Obligation of the people.
  2. The number of  Masses on  Sundays may be reduced to allow enough time for the disinfection of premises and equipment.
  3. The number of Masses on weekdays may be increased.
  4. The number of mass goers will be limited to the capacity of the church with proper distancing between seats,  i.e.  1.5  meters.  When the capacity has been reached,  the church staff may ask the rest of the people to stay outside.
  5. Those who will not be able to enter the church must be accommodated at the church patio with shade, chairs, sound system, and preferably video monitors so that they may still participate fully in the celebration.
  6. Parishes may also consider the scheduling of areas in going to the church for mass.
  7. The Solemnity of Sundays may be celebrated early in the afternoon of Saturdays to accommodate additional Sunday Masses.
  8. The live streaming of Masses must continue.
  9. Visual cues outside and inside the church will greatly aid social distancing.
  10. The celebration of  Mass and/or distribution of communion outside the mass in the community may be considered. The people may put up altars in front of their gates to signal their desire to receive communion.
  11. The  General  Provisions  on  Safety  and  Hygiene  and  on  Ministers  and  the  earlier Diocesan Guidelines (March 2020) must be strictly observed.
  12. Mass Collections may be done with the use of bags with poles.
  13. A donation box may also be placed at the entrances and exits with signages.  The dynamics may be announced before the start of each mass.
  14. We will forego the offertory procession.  All offerings may be accepted at the entrances of the church.
  15. Parish Staff and the Greeters and Collectors must be well trained for this.
  16. Communion may be given in a systematic and orderly manner (row by row). Proper instructions must be given to the congregation. Visual cues must be placed along the communion line to observe proper physical distancing.

ON RECEIVING COMMUNION

  1. We maintain the reception of communion by hand when public masses are allowed already.
  2. The priest/ministers must sanitize their hands before and after communion.
  3. The priest/ministers should wear masks when distributing communion.
  4. After determining the number of attendees, a sufficient if not an exact number of hosts must be consecrated for the communion of the current mass. We suggest that we avoid over preparation of hosts that will result in stocking them in the tabernacle. Hosts consecrated during the current mass must all be consumed.
  5. The words “The Body of Christ” and the people’s response “Amen” may be done once before Communion.
  6. Parishes should also distribute Holy Communion outside of the Mass for the sick and those who are taking serious caution during the pandemic.
  7. Priests and ministers must be careful to avoid desecration of the Body of Christ.

ON THE CELEBRATION OF BAPTISM

  1. Mass Baptisms (Binyagang Bayan) is discouraged
  2. Community or Sunday Baptisms may be celebrated but only a maximum of 3 children may be baptized in one celebration. The parish therefore may schedule the Rite of Baptism of Several Children by batch.
  3. Instructions from Section II, A, and B (nos. 2-5) must be observed.

ON THE CELEBRATION OF CONFIRMATION

  1. Mass Confirmation (Kumpilang Bayan) is discouraged.
  2. Only those who are preparing for the Sacrament of Matrimony and adults who will be baptized may receive the Sacrament.
  3. Confirmation of several confirmands may be celebrated but only with a maximum of 3 confirmands. The parishes may schedule several batches throughout the month.
  4. Proper catechetical formation must still be given.
  5. The use of cotton in anointing with the holy oil is allowed;  used cotton must be burned after the celebration.
  6. Proper physical distancing and the use of face masks must be observed.

ON THE CELEBRATION OF RECONCILIATION

  1. Instructions in Section III, (1), D must be followed.
  2. The  Diocesan  Bishop permits the granting of the General Absolution after the celebration of the Mass. Guidelines on the granting and the conditions of General Absolution must be observed.

ON THE PASTORAL CARE FOR THE SICK

  1. Please see Instructions in Section III, (1), E.

ON THE CELEBRATION OF MATRIMONY

  1. Only weddings without an entourage will be accommodated.
  2. The number of attendees may be limited only to the capacity of the church observing the prescribed physical distancing between seats.
  3. The rite of marriage may be celebrated within the Mass while observing all proper norms.
  4. Basic norms for safety laid in the General Provisions must be strictly observed.

ON THE CELEBRATION OF FUNERALS

  1. Attendance is restricted to the immediate family and all must wear face masks and all should observe physical distancing inside the church.
  2. Funeral Masses at wakes may be celebrated only with the immediate family.
  3. There is no need for several masses for one deceased.
  4. Basic norms for safety laid in the General Provisions must be strictly observed.

ON SACRAMENTALS and BLESSINGS

  1. Parishes must provide a dedicated place for the blessing of sacramentals where the faithful will not gather close to each other.
  2. Parishes may prepare holy water in small containers for the faithful to take home, which they may use to remind them of their baptismal identity.
  3. Parishes must make sure that the people will not touch the sacred images inside the church. Proper and legible signages can be prepared.

(3) PHASE 3: Post – General Community Quarantine and FULL Restoration of Public Mass

In this phase, we presume that all Liturgical celebrations will be allowed in their normal course and manner of celebration. Nonetheless, we will still adapt to the norms and guidelines that the competent authorities will provide. Until such guidelines are released, we will continue to observe the instructions in the Second Phase of the gradual transition towards the new normal. In this phase, the dispensation from the Sunday Obligation will be lifted.

Section 4 –  The “Mass in Time of Pandemic”

  1. This Mass can be celebrated, according to the rubrics given for Masses and Prayers for  Various  Needs and  Occasions,  on any day except  Solemnities,  the  Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, days within the Octave of Easter, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day), Ash Wednesday and the days of Holy Week.
  2. We continue to pray the  “Oratio  Imperata    during the  Mass,  after the  Post Communion Prayer and also every 12 PM and 8 PM daily.

Conclusion

The Diocese of Cubao adheres to the recommendations of the Local Government and of the Inter-Agency Task Force as we strive to live our faith as the Church. Through time, this will require adjustments and coping up both on the part of the ministers and of the faithful. Nonetheless, this also allows us to discover the beauty of the Christian faith more than before.  Our concern therefore of granting  access to divine worship and to sacraments is without a  doubt of great importance for the spiritual welfare of the people.  Christian worship and sacraments are necessary  for the growth and nourishment of the human person. This we will realize the best of our abilities in the new normal.

“That in all things God may be glorified.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

en_USEnglish
en_USEnglish