Asked faithful to ‘rush back’ to Jesus as Church masses now allowed 2 years after COVID-19 pandemic restriction
TACLOBAN CITY- The representative of Pope Francis to the Philippines, Archbishop Charles John Brown, led in the celebration of the 501st year anniversary of the First Sunday Mass on Limasawa Island, Southern Leyte Thursday (March 31).
In his homily, the papal nuncio said that he was glad to visit Limasawa for this year’s celebration after failing to officiate the event last year, coinciding with the Quincentennial celebration of the First Mass in the Philippines.
Archbishop Brown was not able to visit Limasawa last year because of the travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic caused by coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“It’s a great joy and immense privilege for me as a representative of Pope Francis to be with all of you here on the island of Limasawa to commemorate the 501st celebration of the First Mass on the Filipino soil, March 31st, 5121,” he said during the celebration held at the Magallanes Shrine.
Among those present were priests within the Diocese of Maasin headed by Bishop Precioso Cantillas; local officials led by Governor Damian Mercado and municipal mayor Melchor Petracorta and Public Works Sec.Roger Mercado, former congressman of the province.
Archbishop Brown noted that with the cases of COVID-19 in the country now appear to be declining, regular masses and not just live stream masses could now be conducted.
The papal nuncio said that the pandemic has resulted in what he described as ‘Eucharistic fasting” among the faithful as they could not attend Church masses except those conducted virtually due to restrictions.
“But seating in your homes watching mass on your cellphone or on your laptop is not the same(as attending mass in the church) because you are not able to receive the Bread of Life,” the papal nuncio said.
“So after two years of this kind of Eucharistic fasting…rush back to masses; rush back to the source of supernatural light; rush back to our Savior Jesus Christ who loves us,” he said.
The papal nuncio said that the faithful need to receive the Eucharist ‘to stay alive supernaturally.’
“The Eucharist is a form of life that Jesus gives us that will help us go from natural death to eternal life. The power of the Eucharist will make our bodies live again. This is the message of Christianity,” he said.
Archbishop Brown also said that he was elated that during his visit, it coincided with the ordination of 12 new priests to the Diocese of Maasin.
The visit of Archbishop Brown to Limasawa came after the historic island was pummeled by Typhoon Odette December of last year.
Limasawa was one of the hard-hit areas in the province due to the typhoon with practically all of its more than 6,100 residents were affected and rendered homeless.
At present, of its six barangays, two of them, San Agustin and San Bernardo, remain without power connections.
(JOEY A. GABIETA)