Millions of Filipino Catholics yesterday marked the start of the Easter Holy Week with churches shuttered for the first time in recent history, amid a lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Churches in the Philippines are usually packed on Palm Sunday. With the lockdown, most Catholics instead heard Masses online from their homes.
People lined the streets outside their homes waving different leaf branches as priests on pick-up trucks or motorised rickshaws went around for drive-by blessings.
“I would dare say that our generation will not forget this Holy Week,” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said in his homily during a Mass celebrated in the Vatican and livestreamed to the Philippines.
“This is my first time in my 38 years as a priest to celebrate the Holy Week this way...when all the other rituals and traditions that we have been used to are greatly reduced or even cancelled,” he added.
The Philippines is known to celebrate Holy Week with an intense fervour, but this year is truly different, said Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila.
“We will not be able to do the usual Holy Week activities that we are so familiar with. We will miss a lot,” he said in his homily during an online Mass at the Manila Cathedral.
“This does not mean though that there is no Holy Week,” he added. “We may be doing different things, but we will commemorate Holy Week together.”
Pabillo urged devotees to take the lockdown as an opportunity “to go into the essence and the meaning of what we are doing.”
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