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Mar 28th
Home Columns JGL Eye Filipino Catholics in Drivers' Seats
Filipino Catholics in Drivers' Seats PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - JGL Eye
Written by Joseph G. Lariosa   
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 09:29



(© 2009 Journal Group Link International)


Filipino Catholics in Drivers' Seats


C HICAGO, Illinois (JGLi) - The Philippines is said to be 20-years plus ahead of the United States when it comes to texting (sending text messages).


And so when it comes to celebration of Catholic masses.


I am referring to "Rite of Peace" before the Communion Rite.

If you are a Catholic and you are just past the portion where the churchgoers prayed the Lord's Prayer during a mass, the priest will tell you "let us offer each other the sign of peace."


It is a sign used by Jesus in greeting his disciples after he rose from the dead. It is similar to the Arabic greeting "As-Salàmu 'Alaykum" used by Muslims and to a lesser extent by Arab Christians and Jews. The term salam in Arabic means "peace". And it is answered with "Wa `Alaykum as-Salaam," meaning "and upon you be peace". This type of greeting is common in the Middle East, Africa, The Balkans and South Asia. Its Hebrew counterpart greeting is Shalom aleichem and its Maltese is Sliem ghalikom. In Filipino, "kapayapaan para sa'yo" and is answered, "kapayapaan din sa'yo."


In the Philippines, the churchgoers will merely nod at each other. But in the United States and in Canada, the faithful would put action into their words by shaking each other's hands.


And this is where the Catholic Filipinos separate themselves from Catholic Americans and Canadians.


The Filipinos are ahead of the times.


This stark difference is never noticed in the Philippines.


In the Philippines, this no-handshake practice greeting "Peace Be With You" is common before the Communion Rite.




B ut in the U.S. and Canada, this became a culture shock recently when health authorities discouraged Catholic and some Protestant churchgoers from shaking each other's hands during the "Peace Rite" following the outbreak of Swine Flu that is said to be spread by H1N1 virus by contact.

It was reported that in some Anglican churches in
England, the shaking of hands was replaced with "hugging each other."


This Sunday's message of Chicago's Archbishop Francis Cardinal George to invite back church goers, who have been away from their churches for a long time, must be a very-challenging invitation because the Swine Flu epidemic is discouraging the gathering of people in a single place.


But for Filipino parishioners, the invitation may be easy to comply, especially to new immigrants, who may not be very familiar with strict compliance of hand-washing, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing into ones sleeves and the use of hand sanitizer by those distributing communion.


I personally noticed this last Friday (Dec. 18) when I attended a reception that followed the Simbang Gabi (Dawn Mass in the Philippines, Evening Mass in the U.S.) at the St. Gregory Church in Chicago's northside when a father of a young family kept on coughing without covering his mouth in front of my family. Since I don't know the father personally, I had no guts in telling him to cover his mouth while coughing because I didn't want him to misinterpret my entreaty that I was insulting him.




A lthough, the post-Simbang Gabi activity is supposed to be some kind of a fellowship and networking event, according to the information being circulated by Teresa Nuval, who is in charge of Asian Catholic Ministry under the Chicago Archdiocese, if some members of the Filipino community will not observe health-authority protocol that includes hand-washing, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing into ones sleeves and the use of hand sanitizer, this religious event that is becoming popular in these parts could be fertile ground to spread the H1N1 virus.


The ignorance of the protocol may take away the edge of this growing cottage industry where the Filipino religious community may "'reflect on issues or the general/daily themes that are promoted and preached in all parishes' in the U.S."


Because it's very hard to teach old dogs new tricks, it is going to be a challenge for the organizers of Simbang Gabi, including the priests, to tell parishioners to change old habits when they are not used to hand-washing, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing into ones sleeves and the use of hand sanitizer.


In the Philippines, this kind of gathering does not happen because everybody goes to their homes after the Simbang Gabi and there no need for reminders from health police. Most gatherings of this kind only happen during fiestas, weddings and other events, where there are banquet-like assemblies.




A nd as the Filipinos in their homeland are on a holiday spirit during the next two weeks, this column is hoping that when they go back to normal after the Feast of Three Kings (Epiphany) that usually falls on the first Sunday of January, they are ready to tell who among the politicians will be able to deliver their promises during the 2010 election campaign season.


And here's also hoping that when they attend election rallies, people should avoid people who are coughing and sneezing so they could not catch H1N1 virus.


If I were a politician, I would conduct free vaccination against Swine Flu virus ahead of their political rallies so they are assured of having healthy audience. These spectators usually come in droves not only to watch and listen to their promises but also enjoy the talents of the singers and entertainers that tag along with them.


After all, health is wealth.


For everyone, may you all have a Happy and Healthy New Year! ( # # #



© opyright 2009 The Journal Group Link International. The contents provided in the JGLi may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of the Journal Group Link International.


(Editor’s Note: Watch out for the upcoming outlet-oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 December 2009 09:40

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