By Abuchi Onwumelu
Following the increasing threat to health and life by the coronavirus, Catholic bishops in Anambra State have issued directives to Catholics in the state on mode Liturgical worship and coming together for various spiritual and social gatherings.
The directives were given by the Local Ordinaries and all the Catholic Bishops in Anambra State on Sunday, 22nd March.
According to the guidelines which were disclosed to Fides by Rev Fr Dr Michael Monwe, secretary to the Catholic Bishop of Awka, henceforth, the exchange the kiss of peace will be by nodding to those sitting near or by looking at their direction, without body contact, shaking of hands, or embracing.
Also from now till the danger is through, Holy Communion would no longer be administered in the tongue but should be given in the hands.
A breakdown of the rest of the directives is as follows: There should be no more provision of holy water at the entrance of churches and other ecclesiastical institutions.
Offertory collections should be made by church prefects going round and not by the congregation filing out to dance and go to the altar.
Temporary suspension of big gatherings like overnight crusades, rallies and such events that attract big crowds and keep them close to each other for a long time.
Parishes that can afford it can increase the number of Holy Masses so as to reduce the size of the congregation attending.
Long sermons and long announcements are discouraged and should be avoided.
Long receptions after weddings should be curtailed, discouraged and avoided
Long dancing at ceremonies like funerals should be curtailed and avoided
People should avoid crowded places and should keep respectful distance from anybody they meet on the road.
People should buy sanitizers, put them in their pockets or handbags and use them regularly as the need arises.
Priests are advised not to prolong the Holy Mass or any Liturgical celebration without making the liturgy mechanical.
For anointing of the sick and at Baptism, priests are advised to put on hand gloves.
Church Prefects are advised to put on hand gloves while collecting the offertory and rendering other services.