I WAS in hibernation from writing for more than month. Now, I come back with a lot of comical ideas in my head. It seems like just last week, but now we have already consumed a third of January. Soon, we find ourselves talking about the “Hearts Day” or Lent.
The first three weeks of January 2018 were such a blessing to all of us.
We celebrated three feasts in the Catholic Church – Feast of the Black Nazarene, Feast of San Sebastian and Feast of the Holy Child (Santo Niño). We are so blessed to have these religious celebrations.
Let us have a short reflection of these religious events.
Let us start with the “traslacion” of the Black Nazarene. It is one of the longest and well-participated processions in the country. It is the longest not in terms of length but the longest in terms of duration. It takes the “Poon Nazareno” almost 24 hours to go back to the Church in Quiapo.
The “traslacion” is the commemoration of the transfer of the copied image of the Black Christ carrying the Cross from the Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Intramuros to Quiapo Church which happened in 1787.
The image is a copy of the original image from Mexico owned by the Recoletos Friars. The original image arrived in the Philippines in 1606 but was destroyed in 1945 after the Recoletos Church in Manila was bombed. Another added feature to the traslacion is the “Dunggaw” or the Our Lady of Mount Carmel meets the Black Nazarene and is done in front of San Sebastian Basilica.
This practice was revived in 2014 after documents showing of the practice in the past. Today, the faithful devotees of the Black Nazarene would do a lot to touch the image. The feast of Poon Nazareno should bring us conversion, healing and reconciliation and not material gains.
We often hear people say that they had this devotion for decades for it has brought them material blessings. Is this the essence of the celebration?
January 20 is the feast of the Diocese of Bacolod. We celebrate the feast of the martyr San Sebastian. He was a good soldier and was later asked to choose between his pagan Lord and his faith to Christianity.
He chose Christianity over paganism. He was ordered to be executed but was miraculously saved from it. He was then seen and clubbed to death by the loyal guards of the emperor.
San Sebastian defended the faith until he died. His virtue of courage, bravery and strong loyalty to God are the virtues worthy of emulation.
We, as members of the Diocese under his patronage should continue to strive and persevere to be faithful and loyal to the authority of the Church and not of men. We need to be brave and strong in times of contemporary persecutions done by civil government.
So, as Catholics, are we easily persuaded to another faith when we are persecuted?
The well-loved feast all over the country is that of the Child Jesus or Santo Niño. This is to honor the Holy Child Jesus becoming like us. WE celebrated his Birthday, the Holy Family, the Motherhood of God, the Epiphany and now the feast of Santo Niño. The most well-loved is the Santo Niño de Cebu which was brought to the shores of the Philippines in 1521. The Filipino could always relate to the Child Jesus for our Catholic faith is like that of a child. We believe and we ask. We are child-like in front of Christ.
Santo Niño has been a household companion for every Filipino. What is sad to note is that it goes with a ritual which has lost its religiosity over the years. Ati-atihan, Sinulog and Dinagyang are some of the well-known fiesta of the towns and cities of the country.
Most often the religious dimension has been overshadowed by the social dimension. Look at the merrymakers, they have not even prayed to the Santo Niño but they just enjoyed the transformation of a town in to a large dance arena. Have we lost the religious dimension of the feast of the Holy Child?
We must continue to reflect on the religious significance of the fiesta and must give little concern to the merry-making. Let us hear Mass first and thank God for the blessings through our Patrons.
Belated birthday greetings to Rev. Fr. Dexter Palagtiosa, OAR, parish priest of San Ncolas de Tolentino Parish, Talisay City.
Sto. Niño, have mercy on us. St. Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod; St. Ezekiel Moreno; Pope St. John Paul II; Frs. Cornelio and Loreto; Msgrs. John Liu and John Su; Manoy Bill and Sir Faraon Lopez, pray for us.