As I’m going through these days in Rio, I see so many different people from all over the world. It’s so cool to see Brazilians, Germans, Italians, Argentinians, USA-icans, Canadians, Mexicans, Japanese, Koreans, South Africans, Jamaicans, Vietnamese, British, Spaniards, French, Chileans, and many, many more. But one country I’ve been expecting to find is the Philippines! But I haven’t been able to see them until today (Friday)!
Ok, so there was that time the other day where we saw a group of Filipinos, but it was a small group, and they were from Libya (Libya-pinos). Did that count? Meh. Got a picture but it didn’t seem satisfactory to me to meet a group not originally from the Philippines.
Today, we were on our way from the hostel to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (our church where we have been having catechesis and Adoration) when I saw Filipino flags waving in a group ahead of us.
I FOUND MY PEOPLE!!!
I awkwardly stalked the caboose of their group and started talking to him in Tagalog. Small talk and the obvious questions. Turns out they were headed to the Basilica as well in order to go to Mass, which is the same reason why we were headed there. When we arrived, my group took our pews.
Turns out that the Philippines was hosting a Holy Hour of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which is Jesus truly present: body, blood, soul. and divinity! We caught the tail end of that hour so we made it in time for Benediction. I was just absolutely thrilled to hear songs and prayers in Tagalog and was even able to follow along with the usual responses thanks to memory and humble knowledge of Tagalog. And the church was filled with groups of Filipinos! Made me want to go, “psst! hoy!” and point with my lips or something.
In this moment, I realized how this experience further emphasized the global, universal reach of the Catholic Church. No, no, no…not as a means for controlling the world…but…as a way to really living out her mission to make disciples of all nations by teaching what Jesus taught. To hear and pray in different languages helps drive that point home, and to see this with the Filipino groups there in Adoration resonates with me.
After Benediction, marking the end of Adoration, we stuck around for Mass. We knew going in that the Mass would be in Vietnamese, but language doesn’t matter because the Mass is fundamentally the same no matter what language it is in. But when Vietnamese groups from all over the world started gathering in the church and started doing praise and worship songs, and their bishops didn’t put on their vestments, we realized that this was actually not Mass. We realized that this was their catechetical session which followed the same format for our catechetical sessions, which include songs and a lesson from a bishop followed by Mass. Yeah, we didn’t stay for Mass because it wouldn’t be for another hour or two.
After leaving the church, we saw the Filipinos in the front courtyard/parking lot. I awkwardly stalked a different group to kindly ask them for a combined group photo. Which ended up being awkward because as soon as I got near them, they initiated their own group photo.
But…after some exchanging of Tagalog and English… I managed to get this to happen: