The Holy Catholic Church began the 40-day Lenten season, a time of meditation, rebirth, and repentance, on February 22, 2023. Following the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Litany of Gratitude shall be recited at all holy masses. Although Catholics celebrate Lent every year, this year’s Lent will be noteworthy because the previous three Lenten season were challenged by the pandemic. Because of civil authorities’ declared lockdowns and there were various restrictions to count, hence, Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum celebrations have been limited. In keeping with this, there are several things to we can expect for the first post-pandemic holy week here in the Philippines, which will be explored in this article.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a global health emergency on Monday, as the world approaches the fourth year of the pandemic. Just to be safe, there is still no declaration from WHO that the pandemic had ended. However, the Philippines had reported to WHO significant developments on how the country manages the situation of the pandemic. Accordingly, the Philippines has now 0 deaths, 900 cases, and a 2.9% positivity test for the virus. We can say that this is a relatively low number in contrast to the previous three years, and as a result, the limits have been removed, and the current situation in the nation is gradually returning to normalcy, as if we are in the post-pandemic period.
Read More: Different Ways To Celebrate Holy Week During The Pandemic | Bria House and Lot | Bria Homes
As a result, for Ash Wednesday, the burning of blessed palm fronds, also known as Day of Ashes, is customarily done in Churches. Four ancient prayers are recited as the ashes are burned and sprayed with Holy Water and fumigated with incense. The blessed ashes are then combined with a small amount of oil. It is used to mark the forehead of the devotees which represents the person’s ownership, making the cross symbol on one’s forehead a sign of “surrender to Christ.”
One of the apparent changes that the Catholic Church implemented for this year’s Ash Wednesday is that Ashes are now freely available for everyone to avail of, unlike last year, the devotees were provided an option to avail the ash or not, since the tradition constitutes physical touch that can potentially spread the virus. However, devotees were also reminded that this choice provides a “opportunity to catechize our people on both the penitential and baptismal aspects of the Lenten season.”
Who would have thought that we would be in a post-pandemic period where we want to return to normalcy during those terrible days as the Pandemic loomed over us? Well, now that we’ve reached the first post-pandemic holy week, here are the things we could expect that could help us plan how to spend this long weekend with our Family.
1. Little to No Social Distance
Most nations implemented public health measures to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pathogenic agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). These limits were imposed in order to reduce social interaction and avert massive epidemics that may possibly paralyze national health care systems.
One of the most visible tactics was social distancing, which prohibited mass meetings, closed schools, and restricted foreign travel and internal mobility. Previous research found that these strategies had a good impact and that social distance saved lives.These results were reached using data from the early COVID-19 era, when social distancing was strict and successful.
Ever since last year, Manila and other designated regions, social distancing had been no longer required, restaurants may now remove plastic barriers from tables, and public gatherings such as birthday parties, marriages, sporting events, and family reunions can resume in full. Another point to notice is that religious processions, such as the “Salubong,” will take place, and we can expect the traditional no social distance while the procession takes place.
2. Less People Wearing Mask
One of the things we could expect as we celebrate the first post-pandemic holy week is to see less people wearing masks in public areas. President Ferdinand Marcos modified the mask requirement in November 2022 by signing Executive Order No. 7, which made wearing a face mask voluntary inside and outdoors, except in healthcare facilities, medical transport vehicles, and all modes of public transportation.
Last year during the celebration of Holy Week, Catholics were reminded to still wear face mask for those who wish to participate in Church activities. Howeveer, for this year we can expect that the wearing of face mask will be lessened it had been proclaimed to use as only voluntary.
3. More “Pabasa” Devotions in the Streets
The “pabasa” (to read) is a unique Filipino ritual in which the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection are retold via songs.It has evolved into a family event, with food and beverages prepared for attendees. The “pabasa” has also become a request for favors. It has been three years since Semana Santa was properly observed in our country, therefore we may expect a huge number of believers to leave their houses and continue the tradition.
4. Expect Heavy Traffic
It is believed that in the first post-pandemic condition, when we return to our regular holy week, we can expect heavy traffic on the week-long celebration as people leave their houses. Several streets will be blocked for the “pabasa,” and there will be processions, crucifixion reenactments, and the Visita Iglesia.
The solemnity of Holy Week is a week-long opportunity for the general population to take a vacation and engage in spiritual reflection and leisure activities. The Holy Week had been perceived by the government as a strategic opportunity for growth in the local tourism and economy. In line with that, the celebration of Valor Day had been moved to Monday as part of the government’s Holiday Economics Law, hence it will be a longer weekend for all of us.
Read More: Make the Most of the 2023 Holiday Economics Law | Bria Homes
5. Maleldo is Back
If you and your family havent planned where to spend your vacation, Pampanga is known to be one of the best places for you and your family to celebrate the long weekend it has 7 churches to be visited for Visita Iglesia and one of the siginificant practices is the “Maleldo”. The Kapampangan name for Holy Week is “Maleldo.” Many penitents are physically nailed to wooden crosses as part of the Lenten ceremony. Before to the actual nailing ceremonies, penitents known as “magdarame” (flagellants) march through the streets while flogging their backs with bamboo sticks known as “burilyos.”
As Pampanga becomes one of the hotspots for long weekend celebrations, you should not pass up the opportunity to invest in the province as it is likely to expand more in the next years. Bria Homes’ affordable homes in Bria San Fernando and Bria Magalang has made investment in Pampanga more accessible.
Although experts do not have definite timeframes for the conclusion of the pandemic these are the things, we can expect for the upcoming first post-pandemic holy week celebration. COVID will only be eradicated if the population has developed herd immunity and everyone is immune to the most severe illness. This can only be accomplished with more widespread immunization and vaccinations that are sensitive to new COVID variations.
As Holy Week is about to come, in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, church officials encourage the faithful to meditate, conduct charitable service, and go to confession for spiritual cleaning.