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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nuestro Padre Senor Nazareno

Last Tuesday, I was able to attend a mass at Quiapo Church for the feast of the Black Nazarene, the Nuestro Padre Senor Nazareno! Two prayer buddies and I arrived at the side plaza of Quiapo around 8:30 pm and the mood was really festive with the thick crowd of people inside and outside the church waving their handkerchiefs (mostly white) while joining in the singing or listening to the choir (or were those just taped songs?) that was booming loudly from the speakers. People in the plaza were also watching the big screens outside the church to see the progress of the procession and the minute they saw the Black Nazarene on screen coming near Plaza Miranda started screaming and clapping jubilantly! This went for a long while and there were even fireworks display, I think courtesy of some tenants in some buildings nearby! The church doors were open so that we could also see the people inside standing on the pews facing the entrance (instead of the altar) eagerly awaiting the arrival of the procession.

While all these were going on, we were also singing, watching the big screen and slowly inching our way to the church side entrance. The skies were clear, the weather was good and there was even a cool breeze that even if there were so many people, we weren’t bothered one bit. Of course, even if it was hot, people would still be happy but the weather cooperated and it was fantastic!

I got to feel some heat though when the devotees that joined the procession that got in the church to pay homage started coming out our way. They were barefoot and soaking wet from all their perspiration but I’m sure they were so happy to have completed the procession. Unlike in the past, where the procession was only around the vicinity of the church, this year, the procession started all the way from the Quirino grandstand in Luneta which is a farther distance. This year is more special than the others (actually each year is special for the devotees but this year is more special) since it is the 400th anniversary since the arrival of the statue from a galleon in Spain .

It took time for the Statue to get in and people in Plaza Miranda were the procession passed were trying to come near the statue and all through out there were shouts of joy and clapping! Finally the Senor got in the church and someone asked the people to sit down and prepare for the mass. We were able to get inside the church by that time since many started leaving also. Many of the people have attended the earlier masses (which was going on all throughout the day) and just wanted to see the procession come in. So though many were coming in there were also many leaving but the activity stopped when the mass started. I was standing but I could clearly see the altar and the dome. It was bright and the Christmas lights and decorations were still there so that it was beautiful!

Two words caught my attention during the priest’s homily. Faith and Love! He mentioned that it was the faith of the devotees that brought them to there and it was love that let them bear the heat and pain to join the procession or wait for the Senor’s arrival. It made me immediately remember an earlier commentary I read. Baudoin de Ford, a cisterian abbot asked “Is anything impossible for the one who believes? And is anything rigorous for the one who loves?”

Yes, nothing is impossible for someone who truly believes! And a lot of the people there believe that God will grant their request. So many of the people there have their prayers answered also so that they want to express their thanks to God... they want to hold on to their panata (promise) to the Black Nazarene who granted their request even if some required a miracle.

I am also amazed at the great love of many Filipinos on God particularly on the Black Nazarene! Year after year devotees go there, many join the procession, many even walk on barefoot braving the heat of the sun or any weather for that matter. No pain nor obstacle can keep them from joining the procession. That is how intense their love is for the Lord!

It has been 2 days since the feast and the joy of the event still lingers but more so the echo of those two words Faith and Love. I pray that my faith gets bigger (much much bigger thatn the mustard seed!), a belief that doesn't just get expressed verbally nor thought in the mind but felt from my inmost being. I also pray that my love goes deeper... deeper than just feeling but always moved to action... to do the right thing!


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