DUMAGUETE CITY, Dec. 16 (PNA) -– Bishop Julito Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete has announced that this year’s celebration of the nine-day Misa de Gallo or Aguinaldo masses will be centered on the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The dawn masses, known as Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi in the Philippines, officially reeled off Wednesday and will end on December 24.
Bishop Cortes explained that each year, the Catholic Church has a theme to follow during the celebration of the Misa de Gallo, and this year centers on the Jubilee Year of Mercy which Pope Francis declared in the Bull of Indiction Misericordiae Vultus.
In the said decree, the Holy Father declared that from December 8, 2015 (the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) until November 20, 2016 (The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe), the Church celebrates the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of Mercy last December 8 at the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican, while all cathedrals and churches designated by the diocesan bishops also opened their respective Holy Doors last December 13, Sunday.
In line with this, Bishop Cortes announced that aside from the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral in Dumaguete City, the Holy Door of which he officially opened this past weekend, he has designated other sites for pilgrimage to the Holy Door.
These are the St. James the Greater Parish in Tanjay City, the St. Nicholas de Bari Parish in Siaton and the St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Siquijor, Siquijor.
Bishop Cortes explained the designation of these pilgrimage sites is to allow the lay faithful to be able to make the pilgrimage to the Holy Door without having to travel all the way to Dumaguete City.
He urged the people to make a pilgrimage and pass through the Holy Door and receive Plenary Indulgence after having performed certain requirements.
The Holy Door represents the “face of Jesus Christ”, the “personification of God’s mercy” and it is by passing through this door that pilgrims may gain plenary indulgence attached to this particular jubilee year, Cortes said.
Meanwhile, based on special instruction from the Holy Father for those who cannot possibly enter the Holy Door physically, Bishop Cortes also announced that he will be making special visits and offering masses for these particular groups, such as the sick, those in jail and contemplative sisters living in the monasteries.
The Dumaguete prelate’s schedule for the duration of the Misa de Gallo includes visits and masses at the Negros Oriental provincial jail, the Dumaguete City jail, the Holy Child Hospital, the provincial hospital, the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Divine Providence in Maria, Siquijor and the Carmelite Monastery in Sibulan, Negros Oriental.
Bishop Cortes urged the priests to encourage their faithful to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Door and “obtain the grace of a Jubilee Indulgence”.
He further asked the priests to explain to their flock the meaning and significance of pilgrimage and indulgence.
Quoting the Bull Incarnationis Mysterium, Bishop Cortes said a pilgrimage “is an exercise of asceticism, of repentance for human weaknesses, of constant vigilance over one’s frailty, of interior preparation for a change of heart”.
“With indulgence, the repentant sinner receives a remission of the temporal punishment due to the sins already forgiven as regards the fault”, Cortes said in further quoting the decree.
To experience and obtain the indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, participate in the Holy Eucharist with a reflection of mercy, make the profession of faith, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, he added.
Also, Bishop Cortes emphasized that once having passed through the Holy Door of Mercy, one is encouraged to make some spiritual and corporal works of mercy. (PNA)