Be serious virtual participants of religious rites, Italy-based Pinoy priest tells Catholics


Posted at Apr 05 2020 12:42 PM | Updated as of Apr 05 2020 04:09 PM

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MANILA - As Catholics start turning to broadcast and online platforms for religious activities, including rituals related to the observance of Holy Week, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, an Italy-based Filipino priest on Sunday urged members of the church to be just as serious participants as they were during the normal days.

Fr. Amado Picardal, who is assigned at the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Union of Superiors General in Rome, acknowledged that since "we're living in the digital world" already, "we can actually participate in religious activities either from our home" where there is a television set or computer.

"We're not spectators. We are virtual participants in these religious ceremonies... We're in a new era where we can participate in the Pope's mass, or in our parish church's (mass)," Picardal told ANC.

Picardal issued his advice as Holy Week began Sunday absent of the traditional gathering of palm-bearing church-goers to start commemorating and reflecting on the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

Church goers visit the almost empty Redemptorist Church in Baclaran to pray over their palm fronds on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

As with most of the rest of the world, the Philippines barred mass gatherings and ordered people to strictly observe physical distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that first emerged from China late last year.

Picardal said that as virtual participants of the religious ceremonies, people are still expected to dress properly, and he recommends that they light candles.

"If we can't receive the Holy Communion, then we can do the act of spiritual communion, Picardal said, adding "we participate in the prayers, and we also respond."

After the mass, he said it is important to reflect on the Gospel and the Homily, and to find ways to be able to share "what we have," especially with those in need, in lieu of the actual offertory during the sacrament.

Picardal advised his fellow priests as well who are celebrating the mass and other rites to be aware that they are not alone and to "celebrate it properly." They can also post their homilies on Facebook, he added.

"We cannot say that this is the will of God," Picardal said of the global health crisis.

"What is important is... this is our Sabbath. As they say, this is a time for rest (and to) spend time with our families," he added.