AMID the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) scare, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has released a liturgical guideline for the Lenten season as a precautionary measure to reduce transmission of the coronavirus.
For Ash Wednesday this February 26, the CBCP suggested the sprinkling of ashes on the crown of the head instead of marking the forehead with a cross to avoid body contact.
Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP President, said that the ashes to be imposed on the crown “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,” he said.
On Good Friday, during the celebration of the Passion of the Lord, the CBCP “strongly” recommended that the churchgoers “refrain” from kissing or touching the cross for veneration.
“Instead, the faithful are requested to genuflect or make a profound bow as they venerate the Cross,” Valles said.
The new guideline is the second one released by the CBCP amid the COVID-19 threat.
Last month, the CBCP suggested that the communion in the hand instead of in the mouth “be practiced ordinarily” and discouraged the faithful from holding hands when they pray “Our Father” during the Mass.
The bishops also issued an “oratio imperata” against the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 75,000 people worldwide in more than 24 countries, with the vast majority in China.
As the country begins the Lenten season, the CBCP head reminded the faithful of the constant call for renewal “in our Christian life by self-control, charity and prayer.”
“Our charity is also expressed in our concern for the well-being of our brothers and sisters, thus our utmost care and efforts towards the prevention of the spread of COVID-19,” Valles said.