Advent Sunday: Kyrie, Then Death

Provincial Government of Lanao Del Sur's photo, via Al Jazeera/Facebook: Mindanao State University's gymnasium in Marawi, after a bomb exploded during a First Sunday of Advent Mass. (December 3, 2023)
First Sunday of Advent Mass in Marawi: interrupted by an explosion. (December 3, 2023)

Several dozen students in the Islamic City of Marawi were allowed to start their First Sunday of Advent Mass in a university gymnasium.

Then, when they got to the “Lord, have mercy” part, a bomb went off.

Four of them died. Many — I’ve seen both 42 and 72 reported — were injured.

I’ll talk about that, along with whatever else comes to mind. I’ve been running a fever, so this week’s post may be — interesting.

Well, of course. It’s supposed to be interesting. But — you get the idea. I hope.

Mass in a Gymnasium

Provincial Government of Lanao Del Sur's photo: Mamintal Adiong Jr., Lanao Del Sur's Governor, visits scene of explosion in Marawi City. (December 3, 2023) via BBC News.
Lanao Del Sur’s Governor at gymnasium, after the explosion.

Bad as the Advent Sunday attack in Marawi was, it could have been worse. Some of the injured students didn’t need hospitalization.

They weren’t celebrating Mass at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, because that building isn’t there any more. After being seized and torched back in 2017, it was torn down: along with quite a few other places in the city.

Since I’m not feeling up to par, here’s an excerpt from a pretty good regional news source. I’ve highlighted — or should that be bolded? — some of it.

From Google Maps: Marawi City - Cobato City, Philippines. (2023)My stuff starts again after the Rebuilding: Eventually heading.

Cardinal Quevedo: ‘massacre during Sunday mass is a crime that cries out to heaven’ but urges people to ‘let peace begin with our hearts’
Carolyn O. Arguillas, MindaNews (December 3, 2023)

“…’Voices will cry for revenge. But the law of Christ is not one of retaliation, but a law of love – love and pray for your enemies,’ he [Mindanao’s lone Cardinal, Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI] said….

“…’For the victims and for their families, my deep personal condolences and prayers. Let peace begin in our hearts,’ the former Archbishop of Cotabato, a key figure in the Bangsamoro peace process, said….

“…Quevdo himself had celebrated a mass that was disrupted by a blast in a lechon house just across the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cotabato City on July 5, 2009, killing four persons and injuring 32 others….

“…The first Sunday of Advent mass, celebrated by Fr. Benigno Flores Jr. of the Order of Franciscan Minor had just started when what initially seemed like firecrackers, exploded.

“MindaNews sought Fr. Jun [short for ‘Junior] but as of 4:30 p.m. he could not be reached. His friends told MindaNews ‘Jun is safe and unharmed’ and described the explosion as one that ‘sounded like firecrackers at first.’

“The explosion happened ‘just after the Kyrie’ where the mass-goers say ‘Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.’…

“…There is no church inside the MSU campus.

“Violeta Gloria, a graduate of MSU, explained that Catholic students ‘go to a tiny chapel for everyday Eucharistic prayer’ but during Sundays, they hold mass in the gymnasium ‘except when it’s not available for use.’ If the gym is not available, ‘they do Sunday morning praise’ in the golf course.’…”
[emphasis mine]

What makes a church a cathedral, by the way, is its cathedra: a ‘throne’, as some resources put it, where the bishop sits. A cathedral is the bishop’s church in a diocese. Some, like Notre Dame in Paris, are big and fancy. Others, not so much.1

Rebuilding: Eventually

Provincial Government of Lanao Del Sur's photo: Mamintal Adiong Jr., Lanao Del Sur's Governor, visits scene of explosion in Marawi City. (December 3, 2023) via BBC News.
Marawi City, Mindanao, Philippines: Google Maps.

Marawi, and Mindanao, have a long and complicated history.

The Spanish called the site Dansalan: from the Maranao word dansal, which has a mess of meanings, mostly having to do with being a place where boats can be brought ashore. My guess is that “landing” wouldn’t be too far from the mark.

Delirium333's map: Sultanate of Maguindanao in 1521. (August 31, 2023) via Wikipedia, used w/o permissionDansalan was part of the Sultanate of Maguindanao for a few centuries.

Then the Spanish came back, followed by Americans — who did not make all the right decisions — after which Japanese occupation forces set up shop — in a way, it’s a wonder the place isn’t more of a mess.

Anyway, the Philippine Senate relabeled Dansalan as Marawi City in 1956.

The name comes either from a river or a “martyred hero”. Which language or languages are in play there; that, I don’t know.

Marawi’s city council redesignated it “Islamic City of Marawi” in 1980. The new name sort of makes sense, since most folks in that part of the Philippines are Muslims. Maybe the idea was to make the place look more attractive to potential investors in the Middle East.

Anyway, the last I heard, Catholics in Marawi have plans to rebuild their cathedral. Eventually.

The 2017 effort to free the city from oppressors, infidels, or whatever, left a great many damaged and destroyed buildings. And, arguably more important, that particular jihad uprooted about 200,000 folks. The vast majority of them Muslims.

Marawi cathedral rebuild on hold until mosques fixed
“Work in Philippine city will wait in deference to Muslim neighbors, local church leaders say”
Bong Sarmiento, Marawi City; Union of Catholic Asian News (June 14, 2019)

“…Brother Reynaldo Barnido, executive director of the non-government Duyog Marawi group said Catholics would have to wait until the damaged mosques are reconstructed.

“‘In deference to our Muslim brothers and sisters, we will wait until the destroyed mosques are restored before we reconstruct St. Mary’s Cathedral,’ Barnido said.

“Bishop Edwin dela Pena of the Prelature of Marawi has also said that the cathedral will be rebuilt, but only after the Muslims have rebuilt their city and their Masjids….”

ISIS — self-described global caliphate and (alleged) ruler of all Muslims everywhere — said ‘we did this’.2 Maybe they’re right. About responsibility for bombing last Sunday’s Mass, that is.

Prayer and Neighbors

Photo from Vatican News: Muslims in Manila, Philippines, pray as they gather in solidarity with victims of the attack in Marawi. (December 4, 2023)
Muslims in Manila, praying: in solidarity with victims of the attack in Marawi.

An article in Vatican News made some good points.

Pope prays for victims of attack during Mass in Philippines
Joseph Tulloch, Vatican News (December 3, 2023)

“…Pope Francis concluded his message with ‘prayers that Christ the Prince of Peace will grant to all the strength to turn from violence and overcome every evil with good’, and imparting his blessing ‘as a pledge of strength and consolation in the Lord.’…

“…Photos released by news agencies show Filipino Muslims gathering in solidarity with the victims of the attack, praying for them and condemning the blast.
[emphasis mine]

I think that turning “from violence and overcoming every evil with good” makes sense.

I also think that remembering the many Muslims who have been praying for those college kids is a good idea.

This is where I’d have started talking about the Abrahamic religions and a domestic dispute that’s been causing trouble since before the Late Bronze Age collapse. (Genesis 1216; Catechism, 839-845)

But this has been an interesting week — I’ll get back to that — so I’ll make this a ten-cent tour and move along.

An Abrahamic Aside

The Troy Excavation Archive, Canakkale's photo: bronze seal with Luwian hieroglyphs. Found in Troy VI. (1995)
(A bronze seal with Luwian writing, found in the ruins of Troy.)

A tradition that was ancient when the Roman Republic started unraveling said that Abraham was born in the 19th century B.C. — give or take a few centuries.

I gather that around the mid-20th (A.D.) century, serious historians said that Abraham is like Paul Bunyan: a character in folklore.

They’ve got a point. We’ve found no historical documents mentioning him, apart from Sacred Scripture, and no archaeological evidence that confirms what we know about him.

I’m not surprised that archives like the Library of Ashurbanipal (7th century B.C.) lack documentation of Abraham.

For one thing, his descendants through Isaac weren’t all that important to folks running places like the Assyrian Empire. And when they did cross paths with major powers, the incidents tended to be not the sort of thing that makes good press releases.

For another, Abraham, Isaac, and all, were living not far from ground zero of the Late Bronze Age collapse. We haven’t had a disaster like that since, happily. And we very nearly forgot that it happened.

I remember when the Trojan War was supposed to be a fictional event that Homer made up: and that Homer was a fictional poet who never existed.

Then archaeologists started finding Trojan artifacts in the ruins of Troy. And what some called a “destruction layer” in assorted spots around the eastern Mediterranean: unburied bodies, abandoned cities —

The last I checked, there’s a consensus that something very bad happened: something academics call the Late Bronze Age collapse. (ca. 1200-1150 B.C.)

After the dust settled, literacy became a luxury, survivors focused on surviving; and we may eventually learn just what did go so terribly wrong.3

Under the Circumstances….
Finn Bjørklid's (?) map showing the Bronze Age collapse.
Late Bronze Age Collapse: yes, what’s on the evening news could be worse.

All that death and destruction came several centuries after “folklore” says Abraham lived.

Under the circumstances, I’m impressed that we know as much about him as we do.

Getting a Grip — or — Seeing Humanity as “Us”: not “Me” and “Them”

Image fro Google Street View: Marawi, Suklat Road; near Mindanao State University - Lanao (August 2022)
Marawi, Suklat Road; near Mindanao State University – Lanao. (Google Street View August 2022)

I was running a fever earlier this week. If I don’t stay sick, a routine medical situation will occupy most of my Friday. Either way, getting something ready by Saturday has been a bit less easy than usual.

I’d like to say something profound, pithy, or perceptive.

But all I’ve got is what I think is — or should be — obvious.

Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Christians support the KKK. And shape-shifting space-alien lizard-men are not — good grief. Considering the hooey that’s occasionally taken seriously, I’d better say it: I WAS KIDDING ABOUT THE SHAPE-SHIFTING LIZARD-MEN.

Hold on. I’d better check. — — Good news, my fever’s down a bit.

Like I said, this has been an interesting week.

A few loose ends, addenda, whatever —

The Mystery of the Missing Domain — and Something Serious

I was checking out Marawi on Google Maps Monday morning, and noticed that there were maybe a half-dozen churches marked: mostly around the university. I was back Monday afternoon, planning to copy that image — and the church locations were gone.

Several possibilities came to mind: including but not limited to my pushing the wrong buttons. Or maybe someone at Google Maps decided that pinpointing targets for more bombings wasn’t smart.

Either way, that information wasn’t available. Frustrating, but not very.

Then I tried logging onto my blog. It wasn’t there. Neither was the “Brendan’s Island” domain. That got my attention, particularly considering what I’d been ‘Googling’.

However, “Brendan’s Island” was back after I rebooted my computer, so I’m guessing that the Mystery of the Missing Domain’s solution was a computer glitch.

Finally (apart from the seemingly-inevitable links), here’s a prayer that’s been part of my daily routine:

Eternal rest grant unto them, o Lord;
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Seemed appropriate for this week’s post.

Now, those links:

1 The basics and excerpts from the news:

Philippines Identifies Suspects After Bombing At Sunday Mass
Voice of America News (December 4, 2023)

“Philippine police have identified at least two suspects in the bombing of a Catholic Mass that killed four people, a regional police chief said on Monday, vowing to hunt down those behind the blast, which was claimed by Islamic State militants.

“The bomb went off on Sunday during a service at a university gymnasium in Marawi, a city left in ruins in 2017 by a five-month military campaign to end a bloody occupation by Islamic State loyalists that had triggered alarm across Asia.

“‘(We have persons) of interest, but the investigation is still ongoing. In order not to preempt the investigation, we will not divulge the names,’ regional police chief Allan Nobleza told GMA News, adding that one of the suspects was linked to a local militant group….”

ISIL claims responsibility for bombing at Catholic mass in Philippines
Al Jazeera (December 4, 2023)

“The ISIL (ISIS) group has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Catholic mass service in the southern Philippines that killed at least four people and injured dozens more.

“The explosion on Sunday ripped through a gymnasium at Mindanao State University in Marawi City, where pro-ISIL fighters led a five-month siege in 2017 that killed more than 1,000 people.

“‘The soldiers of the caliphate detonated an explosive device on a large gathering of Christians … in the city of Marawi,’ ISIL said in a statement on Telegram.

“Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr earlier condemned ‘the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists’….”

Bombing attack on Catholic mass in Philippines kills four
“Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr condemns ‘senseless and most heinous acts’.”
Al Jazeera (December 3, 2023)

“A bombing attack on a university gymnasium in the southern Philippines has killed four people and wounded several others.

“The explosion ripped through a gymnasium at Mindanao State University in Marawi City during a Catholic mass service on Sunday morning.

“Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr condemned the attack and said he had instructed the police and armed forces to ensure the safety of the public.

“‘I condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists,’ Marcos said.

“‘Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society.’…”

2 More than you may want or need to know about:

3 History, archaology, and a catastrophe we nearly forgot:

How interesting or useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

I am sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let me learn why!

How could I have made this more nearly worth your time?

About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
This entry was posted in Discursive Detours, Journal and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Advent Sunday: Kyrie, Then Death

  1. Talk about the timing of these terrorists, considering the commotion in the Middle East, which I feel has been significantly exposing and challenging how we’ve been oversimplifying advocacies for the sake of reach in activism. Also, yes, there is more than one Filipino language. And I’d love to see you try covering the American invasion of my native country sometime, Mr. Gill, if you’re ever interested, especially since my university years had me hungering for a more truly Catholic look at that too, not just cynical lamentations about the ignorance of America and the Philippines and our various fellow fools and all that.

    • “Commotion in the Middle East” and “oversimplifying” – Yeah. One of my catchphrases is ‘where humans are involved, nothing is simple’. Human social interactions, at any rate.

      I have no idea why that particular Mass was chosen – with my culture and background, thinking that it being the start of Advent was involved – but, again, I have no idea why. What did impress me about regional news coverage that I found was the degree to which folks who weren’t part of that particular Catholic parish/group were showing solidarity with them. That’s – good.

      About languages – 🙂 thanks for the confirmation. In a way, there are a fair number of “American” languages, too: although (American) English is the one just about everyone is fluent in.

      As for being interested – oh, my, yes. Interested, and a bit overwhelmed.

      I touched very briefly (395 words) on the last half-millennium of Philippine history, back in 2019. (Jolo: Bombs at the Cathedral January 29, 2019 – – A “Good Community”)

      Doing an adequate job of researching and discussing what’s happened since the Sa Huỳnh culture (ca. 1000 B.C. – 200 A.D.) and Langkasuka kingdom (ca. 100 – 1370 [or maybe 1470] A.D.) were major players in the region – – – like I said, simple it’s not.

      What I do know strongly suggests that it would take me more than a week to put a ready-for-release post together. Several of the topics are, putting it mildly, provocative, agitating, and upsetting. Hmm. Those would make an acronym: PAU. Significant? Maybe not.

      Thanks for recommending/suggesting taking “a more truly Catholic look” at that part of humanity’s long and continuing story. I think doing so would be worth the effort: and have an idea or three as to how I’d do it.

      As for when I’d do it – that, I do not know.

      Have a good Advent and Christmas season!

      • Ah, I do remember reading and maybe even commenting on that piece on Jolo before? Anyway, these things definitely take a lot of energy, and passion is more about working with a difficulty one would be worthwhile with, no? So yeah, thank you very much again, and you have a good Advent and Christmas too, Mr. Gill!

Thanks for taking time to comment!