Misa de Gallo

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Sunday, December 22, 2013

AFTER the 3rd Sunday of Advent the Catholic Church started to celebrate the so-called Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi, the novena in preparation of the Feast of Christmas.

According to Manila Archbishop, Cardinal Tagle, this is a typically Filipino way of celebrating the great feast of Christmas. The Holy Eucharist is celebrated at 4 o’clock in the morning, when the rooster starts crowing, or it can be celebrated also in the evening but only in the parish church. It cannot be celebrated in corridors or hallways of shopping malls, because it is a real celebration of the parish community.

Our parish in PN Roa Subd covers also the area of the Sendong survivors. In fact, the majority of the churchgoers are from that area, including many young people. Sad to say that the homeowners association of PN Roa subdivision has put up a big wall between the two communities so that the churchgoers have to walk a detour in going to the church in the early morning.

Central in the celebration of the Misa de Gallo stands the Blessed Virgin Mary whom the Filipinos fondly call Mama Mary. She is the patroness of the Philippines, the Immaculate Concepcion. Her presence makes the Advent celebration very meaningful, because Mary as the mother of Jesus played an important role in the history of our salvation.

Mary was chosen to become the Mother of God, in Greek language Theotokos, the God-bearer. She was the instrument of God’s hands through which His Son could become man. That is why the Catholic Church calls Mary the co-redemptrix, the co-Savior of the world. Throughout the history of the Church this idea has been commonly accepted but it became a controversial issue when the Church started to define this as a plane doctrine.

In the 16th century, the time of the Reformation, this doctrine was put into question by Luther and Calvin and this created a split between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches.

Our new Pope Francis at the beginning of his papacy started a movement of ecumenism in the Church: in a spirit of reconciliation we must start a dialogue with our separated brothers and sisters. When Catholics have a fervent devotion to the Blessed Virgin, they do not ‘worship’ her through this. That is what many Protestants feel. But Catholics just want to honor her and acknowledge that she played a vital role in salvation history.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church must review its position regarding the role of women in the Church. Like in the Anglican and the Protestant Churches it is common practice that women can become priests or pastors and even bishops. The Church has to change its outlook on women and also on the importance of sexuality and homosexuality in human relationships.

Man is created in the image of God. As such, men and women and even homosexuals are equally created in the image of God and thus they are all perfect. That is the mystery of man. We must acknowledge this mystery, also with respect to gays and lesbians. How can the Church still believe that homosexuality is an objective disorder? Let us be honest, many priests and bishops in the Catholic Church are gay. Many of our young people in the Philippines have a tendency to be gay or lesbian. We cannot deny this and there is nothing wrong with this. This is part of a proper estimation of men and women in the Church and in society.

Gays and lesbians have the basic right to form a union with each other and they deserve also to get a blessing from the Church if they ask for it. You won’t have to call that a marriage but it still can be a valid union. Their conscience will tell them how to live that union according to God’s intention and will. I believe these reflections are all in line with the celebration of the Misa de Gallo.

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 22, 2013.


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