Hosanna! Andanians Celebrate Palm Sunday amid COVID-19

Photo courtesy to Mrs. Leonisa Razote
The coronavirus disease or COVID-19 cannot kill the faith of Andanians in celebrating Palm Sunday. The different churches that commemorate this special day implemented various ways to conduct it as authorities encourage the public to avoid mass gathering. For the Catholic churches, the members are asked to watch mass on TV or online, and wait for their priests to bless their palm branches. 
This morning, my Facebook friends posted pictures of their palm fronds in different designs. Some displayed the palm branches in front of their houses. What captured my attention are the images of people in our town proper gaily waving their fronds as the priest, who was riding in a car, blessed them. Physical distancing was observed that made the activity peaceful. 

I decided to write an article about this unique way of celebration based from a Bible story in which the people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus by swaying palm branches. 

Photo courtesy to Mrs. Ma. Chazel Camero

Through Facebook Messenger, I exchanged messages with Ma'am Chazel, former workmate at Anda Integrated School. She is an active member and lector commentator of St. Nicholas of Tolentino parish church. I asked details on the regular way they mark the event as my church where I belong has another way of doing it. 

"Before the mass, the palms are blessed. Then, we go inside the church for usual mass," she wrote. "After the service, we bring home the branches and put some at the altar while some are placed at the door," she added. 

When asked how the celebration differs from the regular practice, Ma'am Cha answered, "Last year, people attend the ceremonies in the church to receive blessings, now priestly blessing is done which is we are asked to place the branches outside our homes, and the priest will bless the palms through prayers." Furthermore, she replied, "Only those where the priest passes by have the chance for their fronds to be blessed with holy water."

Ma'am Cha noticed that many become more reliant on God and intensified their faith in the time of coronavirus pandemic. "Before, I saw others who are not prayerful. Because of the lockdown (community quarantine), they allot time to pray. Some are even asking me the guide in praying with the Holy Rosary, " she chatted. "Many have realized that God can help them throughout this situation," she concluded our conversation. 

Ma'am Leonisa takes a selfie with other participants. Photo courtesy to Mrs. Razote. 

I also had the chance to converse with Ma'am Leonisa Razote, the current Assistant Principal of Macaleeng National High School. As a devout Catholic, Ma'am Razote looks forward to joining Lenten season annually. She is unhappy as the tradition is affected by the deadly virus. 

"I feel sad as we cannot make the traditional way of celebrating the Holy Week because of this pandemic. The church is one with the community to prevent the spread of the virus. The church made this step [Palm Sunday on the street] to observe the lenten season despite the situation," she texted.
When asked about her faith in the time of coronavirus, she replied, "The coronavirus did nothing but strengthened my faith in our God."

As the globe faces this health crisis, it is nice to see that the faith of the Filipino in God remains unshaken. The virus just turned people seek God and trust in Him. The turnabout of situation will help us to heal as one and to believe more in the Holy One. 

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