Masbate faithful welcome Easter in traditional ‘Encuentro’

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A girl dressed as an angel sings the Regina Coeli as she unveils an image of Our Lady during the Easter "Encuentro" in Dimasalang, Masbate (Photo: Raymond A. Sebastián)

DIMASALANG, Masbate, April 5, 2015–Singing the “Regina Coeli” (“Queen of Heaven”) in the Latin original, a village girl in angelic garb dramatized the joy brought about by the risen Christ.

Hours before daybreak, hundreds of local Catholics in Dimasalang, Masbate came out in the streets to witness “Sugat” or “Encuentro,” a traditional ritual dramatizing the encounter between Mother Mary and her resurrected Son, Jesus.

Fr. Emmanuel B. Basas, pastor of the town’s St. Joseph Parish, stressed in his catechesis that the Encuentro goes beyond mere spectacle given that it related to something spiritual.

“This ceremony dwells on the joy in knowing that God is alive. It aims to take away our sadness. While the Virgin Mary was devastated by the death of Jesus, her grief was soon replaced with happiness when she encountered her Risen Son,” he told the faithful.

“Like the Blessed Virgin, all of us are invited to have an encounter with the Risen Lord,” he added.

Referring to a folk belief that flowers offered to the images of Mary and Christ bring good luck, the priest explained to participants there is no point in picking flowers if they lack a personal encounter with Jesus, specifically in the Holy Eucharist.

“Let’s get to know our faith more deeply. I won’t discourage you from taking home flowers. But please, make an effort to attend Mass. This occasion invites us to celebrate the joy brought about by Christ’s coming back to life,” he said. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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