When we arrived at the Philippines we went first to Manila for a connecting flight to Cebu. There was a flight delay and we got stuck for about six hours. Two people from Cebu who were waiting the same plane bought Cinnamon Buns for us. I’m very much impressed with the hospitality of the Philippines.
On this second day of Symposium, the talks were about a topic that interests me a lot: liturgy. The first conference dealt mainly with the dialogue between the Church and the different cultures in the liturgical context. This is important in the evangelization of Asia. If we`re unable to enter into dialogue with the cultures of these peoples, faith will be always something foreign for them.
The second conference discussed how the current Roman Rite of the Mass was formed with the liturgical reform of Vatican Council II. Many elements of the rite were direct contributions by Blessed Paul VI. For example, did you know that it is because of Pope Paul VI’s intervention that today we begin the Mass with the sign of the cross said aloud by the priest, followed by the “amen” by the people? Before Vatican II the sign of the cross used to be made privately by the priest.
A priest among Muslims
In the afternoon, I attended the group discussion about the Eucharist and interreligious dialogue in the context of evangelization. We studied the case of a missionary priest who lives among Muslims in Bangladesh and dedicates his life to caring for the sick poor. His life is a constant gift of the self to the others, and the most interesting is how he begins each day: celebrating the Eucharist in his little hut in a Muslim village.
Later in the afternoon, we went to the nearby parish to pray the Eucharistic Hour. As it is a custom here, we took off our shores before entering the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. It truly felt like home. It was striking to see so many people adoring the Lord during a weekday afternoon. The small chapel was almost full, and all present were deeply immersed in the prayer. That is why the Philippines’ are so hospitable and friendly, love for the Eucharist and self-giving charity go together.