THE Filipino Catholics who plan to hear Mass on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020—the start of Lent—will leave the churches with their foreheads devoid of ash formed a cross.
This, as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), in its liturgical guidelines for the Lenten season, suggested the sprinkling of ashes on the crown of the head instead as part of its precautionary measure to reduce the risk of the transmission of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-2019).
Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP president, said the ashes “signify our repentance from sin, which has marred the grace of Baptism.”
“This is not an innovation but in accord with the ancient practice of the Church,” Valles said in a CBCP News report published online on Thursday, Feb. 20.
The guideline was addressed to all the bishops and diocesan administrators in the country. CBCP Episcopal Commission on Liturgy executive secretary Fr. Genaro Diwa was consulted on the matter.
On Good Friday, April 10, the CBCP “strongly recommended that the churchgoers refrain from kissing or touching the cross for veneration,” CBCP News reported.
“Instead, the faithful are requested to genuflect or make a profound bow as they venerate the Cross,” Valles said.
The CBCP issued the new guidelines as more than 24 countries, including the Philippines, continue to try to contain the spread of Covid-19. The total number of infections has risen to 74,576; there were 114 more deaths on Wednesday, Feb. 19, bringing the toll to 2,118.
Last month, the CBCP issued its first guideline suggesting that the communion in the hand “be practiced ordinarily.” It also discouraged the faithful from holding hands when they pray “Our Father” during the Mass, CBCP News reported.
The bishops’ conference also issued an oratio imperata, or obligatory prayer, against the spread of Covid-19, which started in Wuhan, a city in central China in December. (KFD)