FR. Pacifico Nohara Jr. is rector and prior of the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. In his homily during the mass held after Thursday’s “Walk with Jesus,” the first major religious activity of this year’s feast of the Child Jesus, he urged devotees to hold on to their Christian vows despite the challenges that hound them. It was a good call but fell short of offering specific guidance for the faithful.
But that is always the case of homilies, or of the practice of religion of the faithful, including those who venerate the Sto. Niño. There is a tendency for devotees to be too focused on rituals and ceremonies that they forget the more important aspect of religion, which is to guide them in their everyday living.
In fact, this has always been the criticism of the practice of Catholicism in the country, as vividly described by the Yano song “Banal Na Aso, Santong Kabayo.” (“Kaharap ko sa dyip ang isang ale/ Nagrorosaryo mata niya’y nakapikit/ Pumara sa may kumbento/ Sa babaan lang po sabi ng tsuper, kase me nanghuhuli/ Mura pa rin nang mura ang ale.”) It portrays the disconnect between the embrace of rituals and the ethical practice of Catholicism.
Reporters and photo journalists have dutifully covered every Fiesta Señor celebration and what has been formed is the image of thousands of people crowding the Basilica and other venues for both the religious and cultural aspect of the celebrations annually. We do not know, however, how many of the people (hundreds of thousands of them) led a truly Christian life.
As for the challenges, which in the present setup are numerous, the matter of whether Catholics dealt or are dealing with them guided by the teachings of their faith is still to be answered. More often than not, the faithful’s attitude in dealing with personal or societal challenges has been to resort to fatalism, which surely is not what Fr. Nohara meant.
But that is a negative view of celebration and devotion. Because a good number of the devotees, while participating in rituals and ceremonies, do not lose sight of their Christian vows when dealing with life and its challenges.