HOLY WEEK celebrations will commence on April 5 with the Catholic faithful expected to participate in their homes rather than in churches.

Holy Week runs from Palm Sunday on April 5, through Easter Sunday on April 12.

Following the directives of the enhanced community quarantine, mass gatherings such as congregational religious worship have been prohibited since March 15. In response to the directives, the Catholic Church has been celebrating Holy Masses via online streaming over the last several weeks.

For this year’s Holy Week celebration, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) notedl recommendations relative to the decree (dated March 25) from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS), the congregation of the Roma Curia designated to affairs in the liturgical practices of the Roman Catholic Church.

In a circular from Archbishop of Davao and CBCP President Romulo G. Valles dated March 31, he wrote that the following instructions in this difficult time “should help us find the balance between the worthy celebration of the liturgy of the Rites of Holy Week.”

The recommendations stated that Holy Week and Paschal Triduum celebrations are to be made available to the faithful through radio, television, and social media.

On Palm Sunday (April 5), there is no need for sprinkling of holy water for the blessing of palms or any leaf branches.

The Chrism Mass may be rescheduled upon considerations of the civil and health authorities.

During the evening mass of the Lord’s Supper (April 9), each priest may celebrate the Mass alone as the washing of the feet and procession after the mass are to be omitted.

On Good Friday (April 10), the celebrant will offer a special intention for the sick, the dead, and dismayed during the Universal Prayers.

“This special intention would include those who are presently sick of COVID-19, those who have died because of this disease, as well as our doctors, nurses and other medical staff, health care workers, the frontliners in the food services and relief operations, those keeping peace and order, civil servants, and the poorest among our families who are greatly affected by this crisis,” the circular noted.

Meanwhile, the Easter Vigil will be celebrated only in cathedrals and parish churches. During the Baptismal Liturgy, only the blessing of water and renewal of baptismal promises is maintained. (For schedules of online masses visit https://cbcpnews.net/cbcpnews/list-of-online-masses/).

Confessions may be expressed through prayer in the absence of a priest.

Pope Francis, during his homily in the Vatican’s Santa Marta Chapel on March 20, said, “If you don’t find a priest to go to confession, speak to God. He’s your Father. Tell Him the truth: ‘Lord. I did this and this and this. Pardon me.’ Ask His forgiveness with all your heart with an act of contrition, and promise Him, ‘afterward I will go to confession.’ You will return to God’s grace immediately.”

Pope Francis’ will also be conducting ceremonies during Holy Week from the Vatican which will be livestreamed at The Vatican News official YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7E-LYc1wivk33iyt5bR5zQ). The Pope will conclude Easter Sunday Mass with the Urbi et Orbi message and blessing. (For more information, visit https://www.vaticannews.va/en.html). — Michelle Anne P. Soliman