Devotions and devotees-A A +A
By Luci Lizares
Thursday, January 17, 2013
AS I was marveling at the procession of the devotees of the Black Nazarene, I couldn't help but be amazed of the millions of people who braved the scorching heat and intermittent rain showers in between just for a glimpse or the chance for their thrown white kerchiefs or towels to touch the sacred image. Fanaticism some call it, but for believers, faith moves mountains and nothing is impossible with Our Lord.
There are no festivals or concerts of movie stars at the pinnacle of their popularity who can draw a crowd like Our Lord. No celebrity appearance has outnumbered the people lining the streets on a Good Friday procession of the Sto. Entierro.
For most who have been blessed with the grace of reaching out for God's mercy and kindness, petitions, appeals, may merit answers either instantly, or all in God's good time. When the waiting time seems painfully long and dragging, then the request might not just be the solution.
When God closes a door, He opens many windows instead and we must be ready to have "beautiful" eyes to see that. Beautiful eyes are eyes that see with discernment that this situation is what God wills for at the moment and that one must wait in prayerful patience.
Beautiful eyes allow us to be quiet and see with inner vision what His alternative blessing is instead of insisting on our desires. When we look with "beautiful" eyes especially in times of trials and hurts, we understand that an unjust cruelty vented on us, might be a projection of the very torments of the punishing soul.
No big or small screen idol can give us "beautiful" eyes. Only God can give us the grace of seeing His good plan for us. That is why millions crowd the Black Nazarene, or the Sto. Entierro, because only the Suffering Christ can give consolation to an aching heart and heal it.
The Christ Child draws an equal amount of devotees all over the Philippines. Soon it will be Sinulog in Cebu and Kabangkalan, Dingayan in Iloilo, the Ati-atihan in Aklan, the Dingasa in Cadiz, and many more parts of Luzon and Mindanao will be joyfully screaming Pit Señor because January is Sto. Niño month. Again when these festivals occur, we are accused of being fanatical.
Why do we have devotions and why is there such a huge population of devotees to Our Lord?
Since the creation of man, there was always a longing to connect to a higher being be it nature, animals, gods and goddesses, deities. The worship of a power bigger and greater than man has always been the practice. Prophets wrote of the coming of one who is the savior. And when Christ came, with all His humanity and divinity, the history of religion revolutionized beliefs for and against the One True God.
Catholics are big on devotions. Many have an intimate relationship with the Lord and favorite devotions. When life becomes a total blur, with all the noise, the distractions, the stress and the angst, a soul throws itself to plead for Divine Intercession. We need an ever present existence who can listen to our circumstances, our desires, our hurts, our pains, even our anger, our bitterness and our fears. And Christ, whether the baby in the manger, the Christ carrying the cross or the Christ who is laid in the tomb is the same Christ who stays by us in joy and in sorrow, in suffering and jubilation. That Christ in all stages of humanity, crib to cross, is the One who listens, who consoles, who comforts, who answers, who opens His heart because of His immeasurable love for us.
I love the thought that at the end of the day especially of a good one, I have someone to say thank you to. If it wasn't that great, then in all childlikeness, we can still appeal to make tomorrow a better day.
Like many, I am drawn to the Sto. Niño. There are many different icons and images of the Niño but I believe they are all one and the same Christ Child who was born to save us. I try my best to start my day with a prayer to the Miraculous Infant Jesus dela Providencia, who is celebrating His 21st Anniversary this January 27th. The Miraculous Sto. Niño dela Providencia with its home in a chapel in 65 A. Pijuan St. BF Resort Village, Las Piñas City for the past 21 years, has been emitting oil from His wooden body and many healings and miracles have been recorded. There are many devotees here in Negros because of powerful intercession of Niño and I count myself as one.
The most recent "miracle" with Niño was when I came home from Korea last October. My hands were all swollen from lifting heavy luggage. I have not acquired the wisdom of travelling light so I suffered much upon my return. I did consult my favorite Physical and Rehabilitation Doctor, Dr. Manuel Gayoles Jr, but on top of that, I asked Lorna, Niño's caretaker, to send me more vials of the holy oil from Niño. Rubbing it on my hands every night with a prayer for healing has made the date for a carpal tunnel surgery less and less a necessity. Thank you Niño!
We will be celebrating many festivities in honor of the Christ Child this January. Here is an invitation for all who want to partake in the activities of the Miraculous Sto. Niño dela Providencia. Novena starts tomorrow, January 18.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 17, 2013.