‘Maundy Thursday’ rituals go online amid pandemic

THE Easter Triduum, a tree-day period leading to the resurrection of Christ and considered the most solemn part of the Holy Week, starts today, Maundy Thursday.

The start of the Easter Triduum also marks the end of the 40-day Lenten season, which started on Ash Wednesday, not counting Sundays, and will end on Holy Saturday. The 40 days represent the time the Lord spent enduring the temptation of Satan and preparation for his ministry.

It is also on the evening of Maundy Thursday that practicing Catholics do the traditional “Visita Iglesia”, the faithful’s practice of visiting various Churches and praying the station of the cross to atone for their sins.

But because of quarantine restrictions in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippine (CBCP) has opened to the public its Visita Iglesia Online, which for the last decade was only intended for Filipinos living in non-Catholic countries and those who are sick or homebound.

According to the CBCP, Visita Iglesia continues to be a portal for online retreats, catechesis, and liturgical celebrations when everybody is in quarantine and all liturgy in physical churches are closed to people.

Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said on Wednesday that “Maundy Thursday is the beginning of the Easter Triduum which culminates in the evening of Saturday for the celebration of the Paschal Vigil leading to the Resurrection of Jesus”.

The Paschal vigil, also called Easter vigil, is the first official celebration of the Resurrection.

Secillano said the word “maundy” comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which means commandment, and was taken from Jesus’ words in the gospel of St. John 13:34.

According to Secillano, the event associated with the words, is the washing of the disciples’ feet where Jesus showed humility and reiterated his call for the disciples to be of service to the people.

The Easter Triduum memorializes the suffering, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday which continues until Good Friday. It is followed by the celebration of the Passion of the Lord on Holy Saturday.

It reaches its high point in the Paschal or Easter Vigil, and concludes with the evening prayer on Easter Sunday, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

Public religious gatherings are prohibited in the NCR and nearby provinces after the government placed the areas under the strictest enhanced community quarantine. It takes effect throughout the Holy Week, starting on Holy Monday, March 29, until April 4, Easter Sunday.