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EPISODE#233
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: CHRISTIANITY IN THE PHILIPPINES – A 500 YEAR CELEBRATION

The Christian faith in the Philippines is 500 years old this year and celebrated worldwide by Filipinos, including those in the Diocese of Orange. Ferdinand Magellan of Spain arrived in the Philippines on March 16, 1521. Joining us in-studio today are some very special guests to share with us what this blessed anniversary means to them.

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 7/24/21

GHOSTS, GHOULS AND GOBLINS GALORE

Every year, Catholic parents debate the question: Is Halloween a satanic holiday or merely a secular one?  

Author Scott P. Richert, writing on August 26 on thoughtco.com, goes on to ask some additional questions: Should Catholic children dress up like ghosts and goblins, vampires and demons? Is it good for children to be scared?  

Most well-intentioned parents and authorities fail to acknowledge that Halloween has its roots in a Christian celebration that’s almost 1,300 years old, he says. 

Indeed, Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa declares that Halloween’s Christian origin should inspire Catholics to remember our mortality and our redemption in Christ. 

“In contrast to popular culture’s observance of Halloween, even the customary appeal to the ‘frightful’ has a devotional meaning in the Catholic tradition,” Bishop Konderla notes. “Props such as skulls and scythes have historically recalled our mortality, reminding us to be holy because we are destined for judgment.” 

He cites Hebrews 9:27 and Revelation 14:15: “Visible symbols of death represent a reminder of the last things — death, judgment, heaven and hell.” 

The name Halloween is derived from the archaic English phrase, All Hallow’s Evening, referring to the Eve of All Saints Day. Since All Saints celebrations can begin with evening prayer the night before, Halloween is the feast’s earliest possible celebration. 

As Halloween, like Christmas, has become more commercialized, pre-made costumes, decorations and candy have become widely available and the Christian origins of the day all but forgotten, Richert says. 

“The rise of horror films, and especially the slasher films of the late 70s and 80s, contributed to Halloween’s bad reputation,” Richert adds, “as did the claims of satanists and wiccans, who created a mythology in which Halloween had once been their festival, co-opted later by Christians.” 

Ironically, he notes, one of the most popular Christian alternatives to celebrating Halloween is a secular Harvest Festival, which has more in common with the Celtic Samhain than it does with the Catholic All Saints Day. “There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the harvest,” he writes, “but there’s no need to strip such a celebration of connections with the Christian liturgical calendar.” 

Just because Halloween has become hyper-commercialized is no reason for Catholics to avoid celebrating, writes Gretchen Filz in “A Catholic’s Guide to Halloween,” published by catholiccompany.com. 

Filz notes that Halloween is a great time “to reflect on Christ’s triumph over sin, death, and satan; to meditate on our own mortality and duties to God; to shun sin and the devil; to give honor to the saints in heaven; and to pray for the souls of the faithful departed in purgatory. And, of course, to have fun with joyful feasting and merriment.” 

The true joy of Halloween for Catholics is Christ’s victory over death and the invitation He offers us to share in that triumph, writes Michelle Arnold in “Why Catholics Should Embrace Halloween,” at catholic.com. 

“If we take back Halloween as a Christian holiday, if we are unafraid to confront the principalities and powers that struggle to wrest away our victory and our triumph in Christ, then those who seek to do so will realize that they cannot steal our Halloween joy,” Arnold says. 

“Never forget that the raison d’être of Halloween is holy mockery of the devil,” she adds. “As St. Thomas More observed of the devil, ‘The proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked.’”

SHARED BELIEFS

In spite of many distinct differences in the details between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, these very disparate faiths also share many common elements.

“If you really study the world religions objectively like a scientist or sociologist, overall you would see that there are more close similarities between Judaism, Christianity and Islam — although there are big differences — but there are more similarities between the three, and there are fewer similarities or slightly more differences with the other eastern world religions,” says Father Felix Just, S.J., executive director of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange.

The two most basic commonalities are that all three are monotheistic and also share a common spiritual ancestor.

“All three religions can be traced back to Abraham himself,” says Father Quan Tran, parochial vicar for the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Diocese. “Abraham is considered the father of the faith, so all [Christianity, Judaism and Islam] are considered Abrahamic faiths.”

Abraham rejected the worshipping of false idols and polytheism that was common during his time.

“When we talk about God, there is one God that we can all agree on,” says Father Just. “For Judaism and Islam, that one God is the one and only God and cannot be distinguished further. Whereas with Christians, one God is a community of persons made up of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Father Just regularly teaches in the Catholic Bible Institutes of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Diocese of San Bernardino and the Diocese of Orange.

Each of the three belief systems can also agree on the concept of revelation.

“All three believe that God communicates to the world,” explains Father Just. “That God reveals his will to human beings over the course of time through prophets who speak on behalf of God. The prophets are the spokespersons for God.”

Furthermore, all three believe in a prophecy that has been written down. The Abrahamic religions are also sometimes referred to as the religions of the book.

“Each have some written scriptures that are very foundational,” says Father Just. “All believe in prophecy and written scriptures, but which scripture and which prophet is where disagreement exists. Other religions also use written texts but they aren’t valued in quite the same way as being the revelation of God as in the three religions.”

The three Abrahamic faiths also share a belief in a personable God through prayer.

“All three agree that we approach God with our praise and petition and thanksgiving. The rituals are different in the details but the bigger overall structure is that they all include some kind of use of scripture,” says Father Just.

Also important in all three religions is the concept of fasting and feasting. Most Christians fast during Lent and have a great celebration on Easter. The Jews fast during Yom Kippur and also have great feast days that involve the sharing of food like the Passover meal. Muslims fast during Ramadan and celebrate with great feasts at the end of their fasting. However, the details on the reason for fasting and what are celebrated and for how long are different with each religion.

Each of the religions also emphasize the famous Golden Rule: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. In addition, charity is also an important element among the three faiths.

Another commonality is the belief in spiritual beings that act as intercessors between humans and God.

“Most Jews, most Christians and most Muslims believe in angels in the sense of there being other intermediary spiritual beings,” says Father Just.

The role of women in religion is also very important among the faiths.

“In particular, Christianity and Islam highly value Mary,” says Father Just. “Mary is named most frequently in the entire Quran, more than any of the women around the time of Mohammed. She is the most revered as a woman of faith. Although Mary is not as revered in Judaism, other similar women of faith in the Old Testament are valued as well.”

Despite the dramatic differences in religious beliefs, there are many more to add to the list of commonalities among the Abrahamic religions.

“I think a lot of times we tend to focus on what makes us different rather than what unites us,” says Father Tran, whose office serves as a resource to Bishop Vann and the Diocese in an ongoing dialogue with Christian churches and non-Christian religions in the community. “There’s something different about each of us, something unique about our religion, our practice, our faith and we tend to focus on that rather than what we have in common. We forget that we have more in common than we do that divides us.”