Extracts from the Homily by Bishop Noel Treanor at the 'Misa de Gallo'

24 Dec 2012

Extracts from the Homily by Bishop Noel Treanor at the 'Misa de Gallo'

St. VINCENT de PAUL, Ligoniel Parish, Belfast

Christmas Eve 2012

I Thanks for Sharing a Faith Tradition

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, as you conclude this novena of Advent Simbang Gabi Masses, celebrated each morning since 16 December here in the Church of St Vincent de Paul, Ligoniel, I wish to congratulate you as a community for initiating this tradition from the Philippines in the life of the Christian community here in the Church of Down and Connor. I congratulate you and I thank you for enriching our Advent preparation for the celebration of the Feast of the Birth of God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. I also greet and welcome all the children who have come out so early in the morning.

Like all religious traditions, this Philippine tradition carries and keeps alive Christian faith. Maintaining such a tradition and providing for its celebration builds community. It strengthens and hands on the dynamic of faith. The celebration of the tradition, its characteristics and rituals, knead and distil central elements of Christian faith.

In their simplicity, beauty and rituals, such faith traditions are cornerstones in the process of evangelisation for faith communities in every age.

As a local Church here in this diocese of Down and Connor we are edified by your initiative in rooting this Advent tradition of your local Church in the soil of Ligoniel. Together with you, I thank Fr Patrick Devlin for the encouragement and support he has given to this initiative.

II. Religious Traditions Train our Focus on Essentials of Christian Faith

This tradition of nine celebrations of the Eucharist from 16 December until the early morning of Christmas Eve trains our focus as individual believers, as families and as a community on the heart of Christmas.

Poverty in all its forms – educational, social, financial, cultural, – and the powerless are ever focal points for Christian concern and mission. I thank you for the support you give to Trocaire and other Charities, like St Vincent de Paul, so that the Church’s outreach to the poor and those who live on the precarious edge may have capacity.

III. Christmas – A Wellspring of Christian anthropology to Address Questions of Human Meaning

In the course of the past year and over recent years human life, reflection on human experience, the process of globalisation, advances in information technology have sharpened our sense of living on the edge.

Interacting perspectives of change in regard to established canons of thought and practice in matters such as, the economy, the bio-sciences and genetics, government and governance, climate change, gender identity, the institution of marriage, have emerged as issues for anthropological, social ethical and moral debate which will occupy society for years hence. In these arenas of human experience, reflection and debate, the quest for meaning cannot be achieved fully without the input of Christian anthropology, that is, the Christian view of life and the world, rooted in the Good News of the Gospel.

The capacity of the Christian community to engage in these vitally significant debates depends upon each generation of parents introducing their children to the grammar, the vocabulary and the personal lifestyle and value system of the Christian faith. Prayer, the DNA of faith, and family prayer at home are essential and irreplaceable in handing on the faith to our children, to the coming generations.

My dear friends, on behalf of Bishop Anthony Farquhar, Bishop Donal McKeown and on behalf of the Christian community I thank you for enhancing the Christian life of the local Church of which you are a vital part. With them I wish you one and all the blessings and the joy of the Feast of the Nativity. 


Notes for Editors:

St Vincent de Paul parish in Ligoniel, Belfast, is the first parish in the North of Ireland to introduce and embrace the Filipino custom of a novena of dawn Masses at 6am called ‘Simbang Gabi’ or ‘Night Mass’ which ran from 16 December to the final celebration on Christmas Eve called the ‘Misa de Gallo’ or ‘Rooster’s Mass’.

This tradition dates back to the 1700’s and is an embedded practice in the culture of the Philippines where families gather to celebrate the Eucharist, sing and share breakfast.

Another cultural feature of Christmas established in the parish of St Vincent de Paul is the ‘parol’ Christmas lantern, a colourful star lamp which is the Filipino equivalent to the Christmas tree.

For the full text of the Homily of Bishop Treanor, go to www.downandconnor.org