The Archdiocese of Manila has issued instructions on the Advent season celebration, including “Simbang Gabi” amidst the obtaining Covid-19 pandemic.
The instruction are contained is a circular prepared by the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission (ALC), signed by Chancellor Rev. Fr. Reginald Malicdem, and approved by Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo and the Presbyteral Council.
“As we are few weeks from the beginning of the Advent season, we wish to offer you some instruction on how we could celebrate Advent, “Simbang Gabi” (night mass), and Christmas during this time of the pandemic,” said the order addressed to priests.
For the Simbang Gabi rites, the Manila archdiocese said “Masses in the evening can start as early as 6 p.m. and the last Simbang Gabi Mass can start at 6 a.m. It added that more Simbang Gabi Masses can be schedule in different venues to reduce the number of attending churchgoers.
“Please be reminded that it is our Archdiocesan policy that if Simbang Gabi Masses will be celebrated in chapels, offices, or places other than the parish church, shrine of chaplaincy, an explicit permission from Bishop Broderick Pabillo has to be sought,” the order said.
It also said the Vigil Mass of Christmas on December 24 may be celebrated from 6 p.m. “The last Mass on the evening of December 24 would take the liturgy if the Midnight Mass of Christmas. The dawn Mass of Christmas may also be celebrated early morning of December 25,” it added.
The Archdiocese of Manila has encouraged families to bring their family image of the infant Jesus during the Christmas Masses since kissing of images is not permitted during the pandemic.
It also discourages parishes among others from having Christmas parties to prevent the spread of the virus and to be one with those affected by the health crisis.
“We discourage parishes, communities, and groups in the Archdiocese of Manila from holding Christmas parties this year. We know that gathering of people is an occasion usually prone to the spread of the virus. Let this also be an expression of our solidarity with those how are suffering from the pandemic,” it said.
The order likewise said the ALC will prepare the Family Advent Prayers which include the Blessing and the Lighting of the Advent Wreath and Family Christmas Novena Prayers (using the prayers and readings of Simbang Gabi) as well as Family Prayers for the Blessing of the Belen, Parol, and Christmas Tree at homes.