By Leslie Ann Aquino
Some Filipinos follow a number of superstitious beliefs and practices associated with death and burial.
A priest from the Diocese of Borongan cited the smashing of plates or bottles as one of the funeral superstitions in Eastern Samar.
“Before the deceased person’s remains are carried out of the house, bottles or plates are smashed into pieces to break the possible cycle of death,” Fr. Eutiquio Belizar said in his Catechetical Perspective on Funeral Superstitions in Eastern Samar posted on the diocese’s Facebook page.
Another example, he said is the placing of a chick over the coffin to petition for the safe passage of the deceased to the other life.
Belizar said another belief is that when a funeral procession passes by the deceased person’s house twice, it brings evil or bad luck to the family.
“Hence, the family insists that the funeral Mass be held in another church or chapel that keeps them from making the double passage,” he said.
The priest said such practice is superstitious because it attributes truth to a belief that has no basis on reason or Catholic teaching and it also seems to believe more in the ability of evil sources to inflict harm than in God’s almighty power to prevent it.
Due to this, Fr. Belizar asked priests not to allow practices originating from superstition, such as celebrating the Eucharist in another church aimed at avoiding double passing funeral procession.
Priests who are requested to officiate funeral Masses in a church or chapel outside their jurisdiction or assignment, he said shall seek first the reason behind the request and the expressed permission of its pastor-parish priest.
Belizar said there should be better communication and coordination among parish priests and parish catechetical commissions to avoid trans-parochial funerals or practices directly or indirectly rooted in superstition.
He said pastors and faithful alike are to bear in mind that giving in to superstitious beliefs and practices is a denial of true faith and worship.
Fr. Belizar urged his fellow priests to carefully and tirelessly catechize the faithful on the Christian teaching on death and the afterlife.
“Priests must also pinpoint superstitions and clarify why they oppose true faith,” he said.
Belizar is the head of the Diocesan Commission on the Doctrine of the Faith.
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