Skip links

A Muted Christmas in Philippine City After ISIS Attack on Churchgoers

Two weeks after ISIS-linked terrorists detonated an explosive during a Catholic Mass held at Mindanao State University (MSU) in the Philippines, killing four and wounding 45, the small Catholic community in the Muslim-majority city of Marawi is planning a scaled-down Christmas celebration.

They canceled the usual processions during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, instead calling Catholics to light candles on windowsills and pray the rosary at home. They also canceled the traditional Simbang Gabi, a nine-day series of dawn Masses leading up to Christmas Eve. For security, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines stand guard at the university to ensure the safety of churchgoers, which totaled 72 when the attack happened.

Edwin Dela Peña, the bishop of Marawi, told CT that members of the MSU chaplaincy ministry are still processing the trauma of the attack. Some are asking, Lord, why did you allow this to happen to us? Dela Peña and other church leaders have used questions like this as “stepping stones to help [members] get ahold of themselves.” They acknowledge that confronting these questions about faith is essential in the process of overcoming trauma.

“The attack has caused disbelief, emotion, and great pain in everyone, Christians and Muslims,” Dela Peña told Agenzia Fides. “They hit us right in the heart, during the Eucharist, the climax of our faith. There is much fear now, but faith accompanies us and gives us support. Even in this time of distress, we feel the presence of the Lord.”

Read more at Christianity Today 

Share with Friends: