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 in God Almighty. Through the years and for several centuries, Filipino devotees venerated and showed 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 near the church where devotees flocked to celebrate the mass and have their religious items blessed with holy water. Although the weather is quite rainy, people still consider it a blessing. I have even experienced showering in the drizzle and don't mind getting wet. It is a sacrifice and a show of perseverance despite a little obstacle.

As I remember Nazareno 2013, the crowd around Quiapo church is more peaceful and orderly than 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 streets where the procession passes. Others would have the endurance and courage to hold the piece of long rope attached to the image, which they believe brings miracles to their lives. Some would have their hankies wiped over the image, believing it can bring healing power.

Numerous stories have already been shared by devotees who could testify to the miraculous power of the divine 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, the 9th of January 2016, I again experienced 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 about 2 hours, I didn't mind standing as I heard the holy sacrament while praying for my personal intentions. Individuals and families are praying together. Some parents would even bring their little child despite 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 the traslacion or procession have just visited Quiapo church to celebrate the mass. A crowd of volunteers and devotees go barefoot, which symbolizes humility. They have been serving the Black Nazarene for several years to show their faith and more profound 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 humility. I am one with millions who experienced Divine blessings and interventions. It is truly a spiritual journey; 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 in 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