Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes called on the lay faithful to reflect on their lives based on Christ’s example, as the Catholic Church launched the Year of the Laity Sunday in preparation for the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.
Cortes reiterated his message in yesterday’s dawn mass, the first of the nine-day Misa de Gallo leading to Christmas Day.
Citing a Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Cortes stressed the involvement of the laity, the biggest component of the Church, in the nine years of preparation for 2021, called “The Era of Evangelization”.
It is a large jubilee and rejoicing for the Church, that started on the Year of Faith observance that ended recently, he said. “It is hoped that Church members will go through transformation in the period of preparation and will be renewed in their faith as children of God and followers of Christ,” he added.
Next year, the Catholic Church will celebrate the Year of the Poor, he added.
Cortes also exhorted the public to complete the nine day novena masses, a tradition that dates back to when farmers hear mass before the rooster’s crow at dawn before working in the fields.
A deeper meaning to this is the light at dawn, or in the morning, that comes after the dark of night, he said. “Jesus is our light. He was born to save us from the darkness of sin to the light of grace and He brings with him light; now, we are no longer children of the dark,” he said.
Cortes said preparing for the celebration of Christ’s birth is a reminder of Jesus, who came to save the world from sin, and to unite the people from divisiveness. “If we had to simply rely on ourselves, we cannot do it. We cannot even save ourselves, we need God in our lives,” he added.
The St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral and its grounds were packed with people during the first Misa de Gallo, presided over by Cortes and concelebrated by several other priests. After the mass, the bishop led in the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.*JFP
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