Manila (Agenzia Fides) - In the parish of St. Anthony, run by the Franciscans, in Forbes Park, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the Makati district, the economic and financial heart of Manila, before the pandemic, many faithful from all walks of life crowded the weekday mass at 5 in the morning, before going to work. During the pandemic, much to everyone's dismay, such worship services were not possible, and a streaming worship service was organized in the Archdiocese of Manila, as in many other dioceses. Previously, in March 2020, bishops had expressly exempted the faithful from attending Sunday services and called on them to participate in the Eucharist via various media channels.
Two years later, the Philippine Bishops' Conference published an open letter today, October 14, to the country's Catholics to encourage them to resume regular Sunday Mass attendance and physical presence in churches. It is recalled that "this painful and sad moment of renunciation of the sacramental experience made us rediscover the need for liturgical life in the Church". In the Christian life "the bodily and material sphere cannot be left out" because "Jesus Christ himself became flesh for our salvation".
Today the bishops wish for a return to "the normality of Christian life, in which the church building is the place of liturgical celebrations, especially the Eucharist". All the baptized, they say, "are called to take an active part in the celebration and to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist with devotion and frequency, and also to celebrate the divine service with devotion".
For this reason, the bishops encourage the faithful to "return to the Sunday Eucharist with a purified heart, with inner renewal, with a lively desire to meet the Lord and remain with him", while only in special cases will individual dioceses decide whether and how they offer streaming. "No radio or television broadcast can compare to or replace direct personal participation," the bishops say, because the media "disconnects us from our neighbor and from the intimate and personal encounter with God Incarnate". "Physical contact with the Lord" is vital for believers, "he is indispensable and irreplaceable", says the text. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 14/10/2022)