WITH the Philippine government raising Code Red sub-level 2 due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the Archdiocese of Manila on Friday, March 13, ordered the cancellation of all Masses in the next seven days.
In his pastoral letter, Manila Archdiocese Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo said all the bells of Manila churches should be rung every 12 noon and 8 p.m. instead to call on the people to pray the Oratio Imperata to fight the novel virus.
"There will be no public celebration of the Holy Mass and no public activities in all the churches in the Archdiocese for seven days, starting Saturday, March 14, till Friday, March 20," he stated.
He also enjoined all parishes and places of prayer to be open all day so that people may come and find solace in silent prayer, but added that sanitizers must be available at the entrances and let the churches be regularly cleaned.
He encouraged families to gather at 8 p.m. to pray the rosary and read the Scriptures as a family for divine protection.
"Although we will not be able to come to Holy Mass, this does not mean that we no longer can come to the Lord. We should all the more strive to be in touch with Him by fervent prayer," said Pabillo.
He discouraged organizing "Kumpisalang Bayan" in a bid to avoid large gatherings of people, while letting all priests give definite time to hear individual confessions during the day to be of service to the penitents who come.
Pabillo also stressed that priests must be available to visit the sick and minister to them.
Pabillo said the decision is in line with the social distancing strategy to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus, the pathogen that causes Covid-19.
"I recognize that this may impact many faithful and priests but let us do this with the spirit of sacrifice for the good of all... We heed this call not with panic but with care for charity to others and the common good," he said.
Finally, he called on the faithful to stop being selfish in a time of crisis and instead consider becoming more charitable.
"Hence, we avoid panic buying. We should not consider only our needs but also the needs of others. Driven by self-preservation, we can easily fall into selfishness in moments of fear, thus we think only of ourselves. Let us also think of the needs of others, especially of the poor, who are the most vulnerable," he said. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)