The Archdiocese of Davao has allowed parishes to schedule more Simbang Gabi (pre-dawn) Masses for the holiday season.
“The Bishop of the place in consultation with the pastors of the parishes and in coordination with the LGU could schedule more Simbang Gabi Masses in different venues which can be large enough to accommodate more people and still observing social distancing,” Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said in pastoral instructions on Simbang Gabi Masses released on Tuesday.
This came as the seating capacity of churches in the city is only limited to 10 percent under the general community quarantine (GCQ).
Valles added that the Church has adjusted the forms of important season celebrations of the Sacraments and Liturgy during this time of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We are issuing these guidelines concerning the Aguinaldo Masses or Simbang Gabi and Christmas celebrations. These adjustments are applicable during this time of Pandemic. These adjustments are done because of the great number of Mass-goers during the Simbang Gabi, and the limitations in the number of mass-goers due to the strict social distancing demanded by the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) as a safety protocol in the prevention of the spread of the virus,” it said. “It is our great devise to help out faithful find spiritual nourishment, which they so desire and need, from the liturgical celebrations of the church during this east in this time of the pandemic.”
He also recommended that Simbang Gabi masses in the evening can start as early as 6 p.m., while for the morning mass the last Aguinaldo Masses can be at 6 a.m.
“We still encourage the live streaming of these liturgical celebrations for our faithful who are still unable to join us, physically, in our Aguinaldo Masses, Misa de Gallo, and Simbang Gabi,” the pastoral instructions said.
The nine-day Simbang Gabi is traditionally held before dawn from December 16 to 24.
The Davao Archdiocese said Masses on Christmas eve may be celebrated starting 6 p.m.
“The last Mass of December 24 would take the liturgy of the Midnight Mass of Christmas. The dawn Mass of Christmas may also be celebrated early morning of December 25. The celebration of Christmas may be different this year. We will not have the same frenzy and stressful preparations that we have before the pandemic. But we pray and help our faithful to see the heart and the essence of the season in the simple, sober, silent but strong and loving truth of God who comes to us in Jesus’ incarnation,” he said.
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Metro Manila, the cities of Davao, Iloilo, Tacloban, and Iligan, and the provinces of Batangas, Lanao del Sur, and Davao del Norte are still under GCQ until the end of the month.
The rest of the country is under modified GCQ. (PNA)