Sunday, January 17, 2016

Celebrating the Feast of Sto. Niño 2016

On this day we celebrate the feast of the Child Jesus all over the Philippines. It has been part of our culture and tradition that we venerate on the holy image since it was brought over by Spaniards in our country. Since then, Filipinos would embrace Christianity and become our way of life.

The feast of Santo Niño is one of the most celebrated event in the Philippines and millions of devotees all over the archipelago would join activities in honor of Him. From the oldest city of Cebu and the busy streets of Manila, the festivity is alive; it is vibrant, colorful and full of energy.

Today I was able to witness how we celebrate this famous religious event. Thousands of people participated on the parade as they march to the beat of the drums. The long procession was full of energy as they carry the holy image while waving it on the air. Some holy images are uniquely dressed to portray different occupations like policeman, nurse, doctor and others. This concept has been a tradition among the faithful who believes that it will bring blessings to them and guide their living.

The feast of Santo Niño de Tondo 2013 was memorable to me as I personally experienced a crowd of devotees as they celebrate the mass and have their holy image blessed with a holy water. I made a sacrifice of falling in line to reach the top of the church in Tondo, Manila where the holy image of Santo Niño is placed. To touch the holy image and say a prayer is  a symbol of faith and devotion -- faith that is unique among us and would forever be observed with our grateful heart. 

The Holy Child Jesus in his image we call as Santo Niño reminds us of innocence and vigor. When we were young, we have full of wonders and we have  genuine happiness; we are robust and truly present. We don't mind about negativity and we feel that we are being guided. Just like Santo Niño, it reflects the child within us. Our humility, graciousness and innocence leads us to live a positive life despite the struggles and challenges we are going through.

It is with our faith that we learn to be strong and keep on moving forward. The strong Divine force -- our God is there to watch over and guide us. When we are fearful, we turn to become fearless. When we are weak, we develop strength; and when we are about to quit, we suddenly hold on and keep the faith. 

© 2016 Del Cusay

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Nazareno 2016: Celebrating The Feast of The Black Nazarene

The feast of the Black Nazarene or in Filipino called "Pista ng Poong Nazareno" has been a significant religious event in the Philippines. It is more than a culture, but a symbol of courage and faith to God Almighty. Through the years and for several centuries, Filipino devotees venerate and show piety through the holy image of the Black Nazarene at the Quiapo Church in Manila.

It was 3 years back when I first celebrated the grand feast of the Black Nazarene. It was a solemn event in the vicinity of the church where devotees flock to celebrate the mass and have their religious items blessed with holy water. Although the weather is quite rainy, still people consider it as a blessing. I have even experienced to shower in the drizzle and doesn't mind to get wet. It is a sacrifice and a show of perseverance despite of a little obstacle.

As I remember Nazareno 2013, the crowd around Quiapo church is more peaceful and orderly as compared to the "traslacion" or the transfer of the image from its original place in Luneta (now Rizal park) going to its current home in Quiapo church. During the traslacion, millions of devotees brave the massive crowd along the the streets where the procession passes by. Others would have the endurance and courage to hold the piece of long rope attached to the image which they believe brings miracle to their lives. Some would have their hankies wiped over the image and believe that it can bring healing power.

Numerous stories have been shared already by devotees who could testify with the miraculous power of the holy image of the Black Nazarene. Even famous Filipino celebrities would also share the blessings they received from their devotion. However, the event is for everyone regardless of societal status; rich or poor, healthy or sick, young or old could show their faith and devotion.

On this day, 9th of January 2016, I've experienced once again the religiosity of the Filipino devotees to the Black Nazarene. The vicinity of the Quiapo church is crowded with the faithful who celebrated the mass and novena. For bout 2 hours, I didn't mind to stand as I hear the holy sacrament and at the same time praying for my personal intentions. There are individuals and families praying together. Some parents would even bring their little child despite of the crowd. While some people who are physically sick would endure as an act of sacrifice for their intentions.

Those who did not go to traslacion or procession have just visited Quiapo church to celebrate the mass. There are a crowd of volunteers and devotees who go barefoot which symbolizes humility. For several years they have been serving the Black Nazarene to show their faith and deeper sense of personal devotion.

I am not an active devotee of the Black Nazarene, but I believe that God hears our prayers and intentions if we come with all our hearts and with humility. I am one with the millions of people who experienced the Divine blessings and interventions. It is truly a spiritual journey and along the way are hardships and struggles that are fulfilling in the end.

The feast of the Black Nazarene is not about  religiosity. It is also a test of faith as we endure and sacrifice on this event. When we are weak and giving up, God is there to save us and make us strong and complete. Moreover, it would take courage and humility to be with the massive gathering of the faithful to give thanks, ask forgiveness, and pray for personal intentions. It is a spiritual journey not just today, but a lifetime and eternal life.

 © 2016 Del Cusay