CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY –– Any branch or leaves will do to symbolize Christendom’s remembrance of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem that would lead to his eventual crucifixion.
This was the reminder of Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma as Christians celebrate Palm Sunday on April 5, the start of Holy Week which would be observed unlike any other time as the threat of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) still looms.
Traditionally, palm fronds are used to make the “palaspas” that the faithful would bring to church during Holy Mass and be blessed during benediction rites.
But that, too, would no longer be done as Ledesma has ordered the celebration of the liturgy “strictly without a congregation.”
Only the priests, a choir of four members, readers, servers, and technicians are allowed, in keeping with the government’s ban on mass gatherings and rule on social distancing.
Ledesma asked the Catholic faithful to follow the liturgy over television, radio and social media. To help those at home go through the prayer and ritual, the church has come up with liturgical guides.
The virtual Mass will be at 7 a.m. on Palm Sunday; 6 p.m. on Holy Thursday; 3 p.m. on Good Friday; and 6 p.m. on Holy Saturday.
“We encourage all the faithful to stay at home and be in spiritual communion with us at these celebrations through TV, radio, Facebook, or any media,” Ledesma exhorted.
Families are encouraged to prepare an altar with crucifix and light a candle as their members follow the liturgy through the various media.
Through the Mass that will be carried live over cable TV, radio, and online on Sunday, Ledesma said the improvised palaspas would be blessed.
“After the family prayer, these palms could be attached to the gates or doors as a symbol of the family’s reliance on God’s protection to spare their homes from COVID-19 ‘angel of death’,” Ledesma added.
To prevent the faithful from sneaking into known Lenten pilgrimage sites in the city, village officials have sealed off the barangays hosting these.
These are the Malasag Walkway in Cugman village and the Guadalupe shrine in Agusan village.
Thousands converge in these sites, especially for the station-of-the-cross ritual.
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