Amidst the dark, the cold, and the rain, we need to reach out to the different Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) for their Simbang Gabi. In Sagada, Mountain Province, not all the BECs are accessible by car. One needs to sacrifice and have the stamina to reach some of the BECs that are accessible only by foot.
The energy that kept the spirit alive during the Simbang Gabi is the young people whom I reached in the BECs and the young people whom I walked with in reaching the different barangays for their Advent masses and Simbang Gabi.
They prepared the holy mass as altar ser-vers, lectors, and music ministry. The different chapels were decorated and the advent and Christmas elements were creatively done to help the congregation be deepened more in the Christmas preparation. They have initiated positivity and creativity in the chapels and churches. They prepared the Advent wreath. They decorated the interior and the exterior of the chapels. They were all happy with the quality output. Despite the insufficiency of commercial Christmas decors, they were motivated to work on what they can provide. They used pine cones, pine slabs, moss, evergreen leaves, and other recyclable materials.
They gave life to the liturgy with their lively and yet solemn music. The youth devoted time practicing new songs and leveled up to harmonizing the old ones. They were not content to sheer reading during the holy mass but gave time to internalize the scriptural readings before reading during the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word. They served during the holy mass. Sometimes, misbehavior during the holy mass was tempting but they tried to examine their services for improvements. They encouraged one another to gather, plan, and assess. The shortcomings served as learnings to improve.
On Dec. 20, I was loaded with work. I had a whole morning speaking engagement with the Department of Trade and Industry, and a long meeting with the Radyo Sagada board of trustees, staff, and personnel. I was exhausted for the Aguid Simbang Gabi. I reached the place quite late. When the entrance song was sung, I felt the joy listening to the angelic voices of the children and youth. They were singing very well the Christmas song I composed. The tiny voices of the children relieved me from my tired mind and tired body. I felt Christmas with them in their well-prepared songs. I was teary-eyed singing with them.
The youth as well in Nangonogan are increasing not only by physical number but in the active participation. Attending the Simbang Gabi in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Na-ngonogan is being nourished by the Lord with his Word and Eucharist but added to these is the vibrant and beautiful singing of the youth music ministry to include the regular singing of the Psalms which they composed.
The youth are giving life to the church in Sagada. I treasure and admire so much their growing sense of sacrifice and joy in serving the Lord, the church, and the liturgy with love.
Rev. Fr. Brayle Bagyan connects with the youth too with his youthful and powerful homilies. He finds joy celebrating the Holy Mass with the youth. His preaching matched the vibrancy of the congregation fueled by the youth.
On Dec. 21, I had the chance to visit Barangay Betwagan, Sadanga where spouses. Santos and Prescilla Cominso invited me to preside their wedding. The long walk was nothing compared to the joy of celebrating the marriage rites and the aguinaldo mass in the evening. The youth especially the graduates of the Broken Guitar Project (BGP) gave life to the liturgy through their songs.
The BGP is spreading positivity through creativity in music, arts, and liturgical services. Indeed, the youth are creative and productive. They simply need faithful and cheerful advisers to walk with them.
On Christmas Day, I thank all the generous and kind people who are walking with us to animate the youth in Mountain Province especially in Sagada, Bauko, Sabangan, Bontoc, Tadian, and Sadanga. I hope the other municipalities too may one day collaborate with the BGP for their youth’s formation through music, arts, prayer, and liturgical services.
Thank you for the musical instruments you lovingly donated. The learners benefited a lot. I feel your joy in supporting the youth. Thank you for not leaving us in the BGP.
Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year! Reach me at [email protected].