Philippines Fetes 500th Anniversary First Mass

Hundreds Flock to Limasawa Island off Southern Leyte Province

Philippines Fetes 500th
Bishop Prescioso Cantillas of Maasin leads Mass for the 500th anniversary of the country’s first Easter Mass on Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte province on March 31, 2021. SAMMY NAVAJA - CBCP NEWS

The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines on Wednesday commemorated the 500th anniversary of the earliest recorded Mass in the country, reported CBCP News.

Led by Bishop Prescioso Cantillas of Maasin, hundreds of people flocked to Limasawa Island off Southern Leyte province to mark the quincentennial of the first Easter Mass.

In his homily, he called for more aggressiveness in proclaiming Christ by word and example, “as the world and the evil are so aggressive in drawing us and humanity away from God”.

“The church that Jesus established and we who are his disciples should also be aggressive in proclaiming God’s loving and saving presence today and until the end of time in the places we live and work,” Cantillas said.

The celebration coincided with the diocesan launching of the yearlong commemoration of the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines and opening of the “Jubilee Door” in Limasawa’s Shrine of the Holy Cross and the First Mass.

The Mass was also preceded by a fluvial procession of the pilgrim image of Sto. Niño de Cebu from Maasin to Limasawa.

Cantillas also called on the faithful to “deepen and intensify” their faith and love for Jesus in the Eucharist, as he lamented “the betrayals by many people including ourselves of the Eucharistic Lord in many forms and expressions”.

He said that some forms of these betrayals are situations when going to Mass “is not considered as essential to man by those making the decisions for the public health of society”.

The bishop also admitted even church people may have failed to make the Eucharist “the center of our life as a Church and individual disciples of Christ”.

The Maasin diocese, he said, is privileged to be the site of the first Easter Mass, as he challenged the faithful “to lead others into being a Eucharistic people”.

“But whichever dioceses we belong to or particular churches we are part of, we should be an active member in making the Eucharist shine more,” Cantillas said.

Archbishop Charles John Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, was originally scheduled to lead the Mass but Covid-19 travel restrictions prevented him from attending the event.

In his message, he said that the occasion serves as an invitation for the Philippine church to again “go forth and become a community of authentic missionary disciples”.

“The love of Christ made present in every celebration of the Holy Mass impels us to proclaim the Gospel we have received to all the world,” Brown said.

“It is in this sharing of the gift of faith with others that we can best express our thanksgiving to God who has loved us through his son our Lord Jesus Christ who suffered, died and rose again from the dead,” he said.

Pope Francis has granted a jubilee year with the inherent plenary indulgence for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines, reported CBCP News.