Church shut for a month after theft.
SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ -- For the loss of a bowl used in Masses from thieves, about 300 members of a Catholic Church were asked to walk barefoot around the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) campus here for four Sundays that started on May 29.
Officials of the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Chaplaincy here also closed the church for a month to allow devotees time to make up for the theft of their monstrance (also known as an ostensorium) by doing barefoot processions.
A monstrance is a container, in this case the vessel for the sacred host (the sacramental bread) used by the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Chaplaincy that was stolen on May 25.
Bishop Roberto Mallari of the Diocese of San Jose ordered the church closed from May 29 to June 29, in a decree he issued shortly after the church chaplain, Fr. Tito Maratas, discovered the loss on May 26.
In his letter to Maratas, the bishop said the theft of the monstrance with the host in it was a serious offense of sacrilege and desecration committed by the thief.
He said acts of reparation to atone for the serious sin committed against the Lord must be carried out.
Maratas is leading the faithful in his chaplaincy in barefoot processions not as punishment but as penance on behalf of the thieves.
The bishop's decree requires the church members to continue praying to enlighten the thieves about the fact that the one inside the monstrance was not simply bread (host) but was the Lord himself.
The faithful would follow the traditional Stations of the Cross and were tasked to pray the rosary for the duration of their communal acts of reparation. Maratas said.
The stolen monstrance was kept inside the adoration chapel at the back of the church, a few meters from the convent where the priests stay.
Maratas encouraged the chaplaincy to look for the missing monstrance, which the thieves may have mistaken for a gold trinket, church employees said.
Meanwhile, Maratas said he would be holding Sunday and daily masses in the social hall of the church. The Sunday processions, after the morning mass, would be held along the main roads of the CLSU campus, he added.