The pandemic has changed our lives in more ways than one and something that has really been different for our family is the way we attend Mass. Honestly, I can’t recall anymore when we last physically went to Church. I just remember tentatively saying to my father, one time, probably in February, “You know, Pa, I think we should just stay home for now and attend a TV Mass.” I remember expecting him to reply that that precaution wasn’t necessary yet; we usually attended the Saturday anticipated Masses at our parish, which aren’t as crowded as the regular Sunday Masses, and I expected my father to point that out. But he agreed to stay home. And we’ve been hearing Mass at home since then.
At first, it was actually kind of nice because we attended the Masses being celebrated by Pope Francis at the Casa Santa Marta, his residence in the Vatican. We didn’t even know how to catch the English translations at first, and so we would listen to the Mass in Italian, and it was fine. I particularly remember Pope Francis saying over and over again: “Coraggio.” We could understand some of the words and I actually researched the Italian liturgy, hand-wrote the responses on A4-size newsprint, and posted them on the wall near the TV. It kind of felt like the dark days — like having to celebrate Mass in a cave in the olden times — but there was a light inside and a flame in our hearts. It got even better when we learned how to get the live broadcast with the English translation. For the first time ever, we were able to attend the Holy Week liturgies celebrated by the Pope, albeit with a TV screen between us.
But then the churches in Italy reopened and Pope Francis decided to stop broadcasting his daily Masses at Casa Santa Marta. Thankfully, our local churches had been building up their capacity to livestream Masses on Facebook, and so we were able to shift to attending the Masses at our own parish, the San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Talamban. Our setup was less than ideal, though. Because our church in Talamban broadcast their Masses via a personal Facebook account, instead of a Facebook page, we had a hard time streaming it through our TV (which isn’t a smart TV) and had to watch through either our PC or laptop, both of which had small screens.
Since the COVID situation has improved here in Cebu, churches have reopened at varying capacities. However, our family has decided to continue hearing Mass at home because my mother and father are both senior citizens and are at higher risk of complications if, God forbid, they are infected by the coronavirus. Thankfully, our churches have understood this, and many continue to livescreen at least some of their Masses through Facebook, radio, and other media channels.
Hunter’s grandmother was the one who first told us about the Masses at the Basilica Minore del Sto Nino. She had mentioned the Santo Nino masses when she asked for the names of our relatives who had died due to COVID-19 so she could include them in her daily Mass intentions. When our church in Talamban posted one Sunday that they were having trouble with the Facebook account that they were using to livestream their Masses, we looked for an alternative and remembered what she said about Sto Nino. We found the Basilica’s Facebook page, where they livestream many of their Masses, and since they were using an actual page instead of a personal account, we were able to stream it through the Facebook Watch app in the Amazon Fire Stick on our TV — perfect!
Hunter’s grandmother had also mentioned that it was very easy to submit mass intentions for the Basilica del Sto. Nino online, and after a bit of searching, I was able to find the correct page.
Just click HERE to access their official Google form for Mass Intentions, or copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://santoninodecebubasilica.org/mass-intentions/
It’s very easy to fill up so don’t be intimidated. You can choose the type of prayer intention (souls, thanksgiving, birthday, safe delivery, safe travel, among others) as well as the date and time you want the intention to be offered. You can also write the name of the person(s) offering the petition — or write “Anonymous” if you like — and there’s also an optional space for writing a personal note.
And, yes, it’s free!
You will be shown options for making your donations, such as GCash, Palawan Express, or bank transfer, but these are optional and totally voluntary.
So that it’s easier for anyone who wants to give a donation to copy and paste the account details they need, I’m writing down here the information from the Mass Intentions webpage of Sto. Nino as well as the information that they flash onscreen during their live masses.
Please do check the following screenshots that I uploaded so you can be sure that you’re getting the correct details and I’m not just making them up. 🙂
* This is the number given in the Basilica website. Sometimes in the live masses, when they flash the info for donations, they write 09164440646 as the number for Ms. Torres. However, they also write that as the number for Ms. Buton (see below) so overall I think 09208042722 is the correct number and the other number was just a typo.
** This is included in the donation info given after you submit a Mass intention. I tried donating to the GCash account once, but it didn’t go through because — according to the error message — “This transaction will exceed the recipient’s available wallet size.” (I know! Sana all, right? ^_^ ) Anyway, it won’t hurt if you try it yourself, because GCash really is convenient, and your balance won’t be deducted if the transaction doesn’t go through anyway. But do have a Plan B for if you get the same error message. (I sent my donation to the Bank of Commerce account instead.)
This convenient online way to offer Mass intentions will be particularly helpful this November 1 and 2. Cemeteries will be closed per government directives and churches will also be following government regulations on how many people can attend Masses in person. For us who have vulnerable members of the household, it’s a literal godsend to still be able to participate in Church activities, even from afar, and offer prayers for our deceased loved ones.