THE Archdiocese of Manila has decided to adjust the hours for the traditional Simbang Gabi to conform with the curfew hours still in effect in the National Capital Region (NCR).
In its Pastoral Instructions, the Archdiocese of Manila said masses in the evening can start as early as 6 p.m. instead of the usual 8 p.m.
Similarly, for the morning masses, the last Simbang Gabi mass can start at 6 a.m. instead of the usual 4 a.m.
“As a pastoral accommodation, the anticipation of the following day during evening Simbang Gabi masses will be allowed with the exception of the anticipation of Monday during Sundays considering the principle of the primacy of Sunday,” said the Archdiocese of Manila.
On Christmas Eve, the Archdiocese said the Vigil Mass for Christmas may be celebrated starting at 6 p.m. Similarly, the Dawn Mass of Christmas may also be celebrated in the early morning of December 25, said the Archdiocese.
Aside from adjusting the mass hours, the Archdiocese urged parishes to schedule more Simbang Gabi masses in different venues in order to decongest churches from high volume of mass goers.
It, however, reminded parishes that “it is our Archdiocesan policy that if Simbang Gabi Masses will be celebrated in chapels, offices, or places other than the parish church, shrine, or chaplaincy, an explicit permission from Bishop Broderick Pabillo has to be sought.”
Earlier, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno asked the Catholic Church to come up with a plan on how to observe the annual Simbang Gabi amid the prevailing curfew hours imposed by the local government.
Aside from adjusting the Simbang Gabi hours, the Manila Archdiocese said it is discouraging parishes, communities, and groups under it from holding Christmas parties this year.
“We know that the gathering of people is an occasion usually prone to the spread of the virus,” it said.
“Let this also be an expression of our solidarity with those who are suffering during this pandemic,” added the Archdiocese of Manila.
Instead, it encouraged families to do Christmas activities together at home.
“Let us make the effort to encourage our faithful to bring Advent and Christmas ceremonies and prayers to the families,” said the Manila Archdiocese.
Likewise, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año discouraged the public from doing face-to-face Christmas caroling and instead just resort to online caroling to avoid being contaminated with the coronavirus.
Año, a key member of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said there is nothing final yet on the proposal to prohibit face-to-face caroling this Holiday season.
“Well, that is not yet banned because there is still no resolution coming from the IATF but we are going to recommend that,” said Año.
Early last week, Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba urged authorities to ban physical or face-to-face caroling this Christmas season to prevent the spread of the virus.
Año had expressed support to Mamba’s proposal as he acknowledged that “we are still in extra ordinary times.”
On Sunday, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander and PNP deputy chief for administration Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said he also favors the proposal “in the health interest of everybody.”
Año said mayors from the National Capital Region have also recommended the banning of caroling. – With Victor Reyes