‘Salubong’ brings new life, hope for Tagumeños

By
March 31 2013

In the Diocese of Tagum, Paskua sa Pagkabuhi is a much-anticipated church event of the liturgical year where Tagumeños, from all walks of life, joined with their families, relatives and friends to witness this well-entrenched Catholic rite.

By MART D. SAMBALUD
Contributor
Davao Today

TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines — Thousands of faithful have flocked to the different Roman Catholic churches here early Sunday for the traditional ‘salubong,’ a re-enactment of the meeting between the risen Jesus Christ and his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“It is a liturgical commemoration of Christ’s resurrection that follows the sorrow of Good Friday and Holy Saturday,” said Rev. Fr. Ritchel Fuentes, a diocesan and resident Priest of Christ the King Cathedral.

Easter Sunday — the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year — ends the three-day mourning period following the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and the 40-day observance of Lent.  It is a culmination of the Holy Week, a day where the whole Christendom celebrates the eternal resurrection of Jesus Christ from his tomb.

“(Salubong) is done in a procession where a group of men led by the statue of the risen Christ and a group of women led by the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary covered in black veil, both coming from opposite directions, will meet in front of the Cathedral,” Fr. Fuentes told davaotoday.com.

He added that a semblance of angels stationed at the entrance of the church clad in white silky dress will then remove Mary’s black veil signifying the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As early as 4 AM, male and female parishioners gathered separately outside the Cathedral, which is still clothed in total darkness, signifying the mourning period.  And while the procession is in motion, candles are lit as a symbol in search for Christ’s body waiting for His eternal resurrection.

In the Diocese of Tagum, Paskua sa Pagkabuhi is a much-anticipated church event of the liturgical year where Tagumeños, from all walks of life, joined with their families, relatives and friends to witness this well-entrenched Catholic rite.

Thelma, a mother of four from Apokon village, said she’s been participating salubong year after year at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Quasi-Parish Church.

“This has been my devotion during the season of Lent and of the Holy Week.  I am petitioning God that my son will be able to pass the LET Exam this year,” she shared.

For Zaida Veron, salubong is a way “to nurture their Christian faith by witnessing Christ’s symbolic resurrection.”

Hearing the mass at the Christ the King Cathedral with her grandkids in tow, she said, this will educate them on the importance of Easter Sunday in their lives as young Catholics “by witnessing Christ symbolically resurrected as our great redeemer.”

Leonil de Guzman, who attended the mass at the Parish of Christ the Eucharistic King, said he annually observes salubong even if he has to fly from Cebu where he works.  He said it his “devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary” after he prayed that her mother will be cured of pneumonia.

Public school teacher Shiela Agad, whose house is just close to the Our Lady of Fatima Parish, said she always accompanies her now seven-year old niece Rebecca when she takes part of the choir of angels who sing hymns of praise during the yearly observance of salubong.

“It’s been our family’s practice to allow her to join such rite in the exercise her Catholic faith,” Agad said.

Ernesto (not his real name), a self-confessed drunkard and out-of-school youth, attended the Eucharistic service at the Parish of Christ the Eucharistic King.  He said, he “begged for God’s forgiveness” and promised that he will give up on drinking liquors to start a new life.

Fr. Fuentes said that salubong is a rite that’s “very moving” and replicated in all Catholic churches in the Philippines.  He said, by doing this, “parishioners are given a clear message of what the Easter story wants to tell each one of us which is Christ’s enduring promise of eternal life after death.”

He further explained that an Easter rite consists of 1.) the blessing of the new fire; 2.) the lighting of the paschal candle; 3.) blessing of the font and baptisms; 4.) and finally, the mass of Easter.

Based on the 2010 data of the Catholic-hierarchy.org, Tagum City has a total of 1.2 million Catholics out of the total 1.7 M population.  They are housed in 39 parishes scattered in the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Diocese of Tagum.

With the growing number of Catholics here, believers of the Roman Catholic faith have asked for Divine guidance and gripped their personal faith to grant their prayers and petitions in their high hopes for a better and comfortable life.  This as the liturgical year transitions to a 50-day Eastern season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost.

“Easter is a period in our Christian life that assures us of God’s divine hope by living a renewed life and reaffirming our faith in Him as our only savior and redeemer,” said Sr. Ma. Domitilla B. Sendino, a Dominican Sister of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines.

“Sacrificing his life for the remission of our sins is Christ’s salvific act to bring humanity at the threshold of glory and salvation,” she shared to davaotoday.com.

Indeed, Easter Sunday Mass is celebrated with greatest joy and festivities of songs and hymns of praise.  At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, the church bells rang as Gloria and other joyful songs are sung.  The faithful then greets each other using the Easter greeting “Christ is Risen! Alleluia!”

“It’s a major feast of the whole Diocese and of the whole Catholic Church around the globe,” Fuentes said.  (Mart D. Sambalud/davaotoday.com)

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