Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nazareno 2013: Celebrating the Feast of the Black Nazarene

"Our personal devotion reminds us to be positive and to go on with our lives; improve and make it better; serve others; love unconditionally, and become a guiding light."

The image of the Black Nazarene is known to many Filipinos to be miraculous and a symbol of faith. Thousands of devotees gather on its feast day every 9th of January to celebrate and show their piety and devotion before the holy image. 

The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene is the place of "Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno" in Spanish or "Our Father Jesus the Nazarene" in English and in the Filipino Language called "Mahal na Poong Nazareno." It is considered one of the most venerated holy images of Christ Jesus in the Philippines. Spanish Authorities brought it to Manila via Mexico during its occupation.

Since then, there have been various theories regarding the color of the image, which is unique and black. Though there is no official story about how it got its color, the idea has attracted millions of Filipinos not mainly because of its uniqueness but because of the personal spiritual experiences of the devotees.

Many people have shared their testimonials about answered prayers and special intentions, and that's how the church became a popular pilgrimage site among Filipino Christians. Throughout the years, people may change, and almost everything in its surroundings may have changed, but the image remains the icon of faith to devoted Filipino Christians.

It was just a few years ago when I was in the Black Nazarene shrine. Several times, I have celebrated the mass and have venerated before the holy image of the Black Nazarene on Friday. I have made petitions or special requests that have been granted, which is a blessing from God. 

On this day, I got the chance to visit Quiapo church and celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene for the first time. Light rain showered upon us while entering the church, but it was still a blessing.  It was a tremendous devotional experience as I strengthened my faith and expressed my spiritual vow.

There's a long procession of the replica of the Black Nazarene around the streets of Manila, and it is flocked by more than a million devotees who tried to reach out to the divine image. Unique clothes with a printed image of the Nazarene are rubbed in the image, which is believed to bring a miracle or a blessing. I have never seen it personally, but I want to witness the scenario even once in a lifetime. 

The significance of this event is not just a religious obligation but becoming more Christ-centered. To express and receive love, to show compassion and empathy, to remove doubts and fear, and to strengthen our faith despite the challenges in everyday living. 

Our devotion reminds us to be positive and continue our lives; improve and make them better; serve others; love unconditionally; and become a guiding light.

© 2013 Del Cusay