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‘Bringing people back to physical mass a challenge’

Robertzon Ramirez - The Philippine Star
âBringing people back to physical mass a challengeâ
Catholic faithful wearing face shields attend a mass at the usually packed Baclaran church in Paranaque City, suburban Manila on October 9, 2020. After months of livestreaming mass to millions of faithful from behind closed doors, churches in the Catholic-majority Philippines are beginning to reopen.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Bringing people back to physical masses is perceived by an official of the Catholic Church as a challenge when the COVID pandemic is over, as the faithful are now used to attending masses online due to movement restrictions in the early days of quarantine.

In an episode of The Chiefs on Thursday, St. John Paul II parish priest Aris Sison said that a lot of Catholic faithful are already attending physical masses now that some COVID restrictions were lifted, but many still favor online or live-streamed masses.

“Many have come back, but I will admit, it seems there are those that have gotten used to online mass,” Sison said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Asked about the positive impact of online masses, Sison said the Catholic faithful have learned to pray, as he emphasized that online or live-streamed masses served as one of the people’s sources of spiritual nourishment, especially during the early days of the pandemic.

“So many have said that during the difficult times of the pandemic, many were saying that online masses really became a source of strength for them. They could not go to church. They were so afraid to go out of their homes and the online mass was their only source of spiritual nourishment,” he said.

However, Quiapo Church parochial vicar Fr. Douglas Badong and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Public Affairs Commission executive secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano said it would not be hard to bring people back to physical masses.

“It’s not a challenge. It is more challenging to invite people to attend masses either physically or online,” Badong said, as he emphasized that online masses are a big help for people, especially those who are living alone and those who are suffering from depression.

He added that hearing the word of the Lord, either physically or virtually, helps people nourish their spiritual needs.

Secillano echoed Badong, saying online masses have become another form of family bonding, more people were given access to liturgical masses and social media platforms have been used for “sacred purposes” as they have been the modern medium for hly masses and other religious activities.

The Catholic Church was forced to hold online or virtual masses, especially during the onslaught of the COVID pandemic, in response to the government’s measures against mass gathering and the limitation of people’s movement to avoid the spread of the virus.
Aside from masses, a lot of religious and non-religious gatherings were also prohibited by the government.

COVID-19

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