Bring loved ones’ urns to church for blessing, Manila Archdiocese says

| October 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

Filipinos are pictured in a file photo visiting their departed loved ones at a cemetery in Marikina ahead of the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. This year, cemeteries will be closed nationwide from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CNS photo/Eloisa Lopez, Reuters

The Manila Archdiocese said it would bless urns containing the ashes of coronavirus victims every Sunday after each Mass until Nov. 8.

Ucanews.com reported the archdiocese said the Rite of Blessing for the Dead would be recited and urns would be sprinkled with holy water after Sunday Masses.

“We will be having the Rite of Blessing of cremated remains,” the archdiocese said in a social media post. “The family may bring the urn and a picture of their beloved dead, and we will celebrate a worthy liturgical blessing for them. This is in response to the call of (apostolic administrator) Bishop Broderick Pabillo to make our churches welcome places of prayer and consolation, especially for families who lost a loved one during this pandemic.”

Normally on Nov. 1, All Saints’ Day or “Undas,” Filipinos honor their dead by visiting them in a cemetery, preparing meals for them, praying, and sometimes even walking over a bonfire. This, year, however, cemeteries are closed Oct. 29-Nov. 4 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response, the Philippine bishops put the Undas website back online. The site originally was intended for Filipino seafarers and those in other countries who had no way of celebrating Undas. This year, it will featured livestream Masses, a chance to light a candle for the deceased, and a video reflection and catechesis on All Saints’ and All Souls’ days.

Bishop Pabillo, who took over as apostolic administrator of the Manila Archdiocese earlier this year after Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle was called to the Vatican last December, encouraged the faithful to observe Undas by going to church for Mass.

Earlier, the bishop also wrote a pastoral instruction encouraging all churchgoers to take the urn and photo of their dead loved ones to church for last rites and blessing.

“We hold on to our faith in the communion of saints and to our oneness with our beloved dead. We believe that death does not totally separate our loved ones from us. In physical death, life is changed, not ended. Our relationship with our beloved dead, however, is no longer material but spiritual,” Bishop Pabillo said in the pastoral instruction.

“During these past six months, many have experienced a death in the family, and for hygienic reasons, many of our dead were cremated. I would like to remind everyone that it is not allowed for us to keep the urns containing the ashes in our homes permanently,” Bishop Pabillo said.

The Philippines has more than 346,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and nearly 6,500 people have died of the disease.

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