March 3, 2024

The Catholic Church has taken actions in churches and during masses as precautionary measures to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus-2019 (Covid-19) with the start of Lent.
On Ash Wednesday at the Baguio Cathedral, instead of the traditional practice of imposing a cross mark on the forehead of the faithful, ashes were dropped or sprinkled on the crown of the heads of church goers as suggested by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
In the Eucharistic celebration by Parochial Vicar of the Our Lady of the Atonement Cathedral, Fr. Domingo German Ledesma said that the CBCP has released a liturgical guideline adopting modification for the Lent that started on Ash Wednesday.
One of the innovations is the sprinkling of ashes on the crown of the head during the Ash Wednesday celebration to avoid physical contact.
“We have to obey our bishops and the Department of Health to ensure prevention of the Covid,” he said.
In a statement, CBCP President, Archbishop Romulo Valles, said that the ashes sprinkled on the crown of the head “signify our repentance from sin, which has marred the grace of Baptism.” This, he said, is in accord with the ancient practice of the Church. 
On Good Friday, the CBCP also recommended that churchgoers should refrain from kissing or touching the cross during the Veneration, which is part of the observance of the Passion of the Lord.
They are requested instead “to genuflect or make a profound bow as they venerate the Cross.”
Last month, the CBCP suggested that the communion in the hand “be practiced ordinarily” and discouraged the faithful from holding hands when they pray “Our Father” during the Mass. 
It also urged the parish churches to change regularly the holy water in the fonts and install protective cloth on the grills of confessionals.
The CBCP also issued an “Oratio Imperata” for the people who infected by the virus and for the prevention of a global outbreak. 
This is prayed in all churches before the final blessing during the Sunday masses. – Redjie Cawis