The year 2021 marks 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines and Filipino Catholics worldwide are joining to celebrate this milestone as the faith of a people that has endured.
On Easter Sunday, March 31, 1521, the first Mass was celebrated on the small island of Limasawa where the Spanish and the Portuguese first arrived on the Philippine Islands. That year the first Filipino Catholics received their gift of faith. And for the next 500 years, Filipinos have allowed the faith to propagate into history, culture and tradition.
Right behind Brazil and Mexico, the Philippines boasts the third largest Catholic population on the planet. According to Pew Research, the Philippines is home to 76 million Catholics, about 81 per cent of the total population. Celebrations to mark the anniversary, starting with the nine-day novena called the Simbang Gabi, or the midnight Mass.
The 500 Years of Christianity celebrations are “a vehicle for thanking generations of faithful Catholics that shared the gift of faith and kept the faith strong for 500 years. It is also a recognition of the great influence of the Catholic faith on the history and culture of the Philippines.”
“When the first missionaries arrived in the Philippines, they witnessed the Filipino ‘character’ — strong-willed, hard-working, self-giving, devout and humble — perfect attributes for embracing Christianity.”
What is unique about Filipino Catholics is the confident display of “sacramental character,” the indelible sign of the Holy Spirit imprinted on the soul when the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the priesthood are received. “The Catholic faith is not just part of Filipino culture and history. It’s inherent in them. For example, many Filipinos are caregivers, PSWs and nurses. To them, it’s not just a job; they truly have a sense of service and innate desire to care for others.” Their joyful and dedicated service to the Church makes them human magnets for the Christian faith. And so they continue to inspire and motivate others by their selflessness, their cheerful disposition, their reliance and theri deep abiding faith and reliance on God’s grace and providence,” “Filipinos bring a natural human joy that resides deep in their psyche, in their hearts and in their souls. Their faith is manifest in selfless service and gratitude.” (Taken from an article from Ducepec, 22., He is a recent Bachelor of Science graduate from the University of Toronto.)
Les også: 500 år katolsk tro