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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Pulumbarit

#Reflection: Finding creative ways to worship amid COVID-19 pandemic

People of different faiths are finding creative ways to worship amid the COVID-19 pandemic because large religious gatherings are not yet permitted in many areas.

Many have become dependent on the live streaming or broadcasting of worship services.

In northern Italy's Seminario di Milano, which has been preparing seminarians for the priesthood since the mid-1500s, communal life has drastically changed.

The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) said communal life in that Catholic seminary "turned into strict confinement to individual rooms, classes and Masses moved online, and charitable outreach worked only on social media."

The report noted that "COVID-19 killed more than 119 Italian priests, accelerating a long-term decline in clergy numbers so steep Pope Francis dubbed it a 'hemorrhage.'"

Online Masses

My husband Riz and myself, both daily Mass goers for more than 20 years, are also relying on the live streaming of Masses on Facebook since mid-March this year when Metro Manila was placed on Enhanced Community Quarantine.

We were deeply saddened when public Masses were canceled but the restriction on religious gatherings is understandable because COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease.

We are fortunate as many parishes in the Philippines have been live streaming Masses daily on Facebook. Here are links to the official pages of some Catholic churches and dioceses:

Riz and I usually participate in the online Masses live streamed by Santuario de San Antonio, Makati. We have been attending daily Masses there for years although we are residing in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), about 10 to 15 minutes away from Santuario.

Before the ECQ, Riz and I served as lectors in our parish in BGC on certain Sundays but on other days, we found it more convenient to attend the Mass in Santuario, especially when I was still working in Makati.

Riz and I also celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in Santuario last year. One of the presiding priests was our Parish Priest in BGC.

During the ECQ, seeing the familiar faces of Santuario's priests during the daily online Masses was very comforting amid a time when everything is changing rapidly.

Challenges with online Mass

One of the problems we experienced while participating in online Masses is loss of connectivity. A few times, the live stream of the Mass stopped.

Riz and I also realized that having two dogs does not make it easy to participate in online Masses. Our poodles tend to be attention-seekers and we have to look after them during the online Mass.

Despite being unable to attend Mass physically at this time, we believe that God sees our efforts and knows our hearts.

We miss attending the Mass and joining important religious celebrations such as Holy Week, Easter Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, and the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (June 19 this year).

We pray to God and place our complete trust in Him. We ask God to protect us all from COVID-19.

COVID-19 numbers

Based on the COVID-19 Dashboard of the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people infected with the disease is nearing the 8.4 million mark. Deaths due to COVID-19 have reached more than 450,000, WHO said.

In the Philippines alone, there are 28,459 confirmed COVID-19 cases. There have been 1,130 deaths and 7,378 recoveries.

Health officials are pushing for social distancing. The Center for Disease Control said limiting face-to-face contact is the best way to control the spread of the disease.

"Social distancing, also called 'physical distancing,' means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. To practice social or physical distancing stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people," the CDC said.

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