‘Devotion should lead to service’ —liturgist

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JARO, Iloilo, June 25, 2014— True to imitating Mary as their model, Marian devotees should not be content with prayer devotions, but should let this special love lead to service of others, says a liturgist from the Archdiocese of Jaro in Iloilo.

Marian devotion is one of the trademarks of Filipino popular religiosity. (Photo: CBCP News)

More than ‘socialization’

“It is important to remind the different confraternities and Marian organizations that part of the duty of its members is not just personal devotions, but also to do apostolate,” said Msgr. Alejandro P. Esperancilla, special assistant for liturgical affairs of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candle, who observed that devotions— to the Blessed Virgin in particular—as practiced by the majority tend to become too personal and subjective.

While Esperancilla acknowledges the contributions of groups like the Legion of Mary in evangelization efforts, he emphasizes the need for Marian organizations to go beyond “mere fanfare and socializations” and participate more actively in the apostolate and missionary endeavours of their respective parishes.

He shared that family and community prayers, block rosaries, the celebration of the communal sacrament of penance with individual confession and absolution, Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) prayer gatherings, and others that have a communitarian-neighborhood dimension must be fostered.

Esperancilla recalled that the “Barangay sang Birhen” (Our Lady of the Barangay) had been at the forefront even before the concept of BEC was popularized.

Quoting the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines [PCP II], he shared that the Blessed Virgin is the “Mother of the community of Disciples” and “we may learn from her way of life what we need to be as a community of disciples.”

The bishops of PCP II, with the millions of poor Filipinos in mind, challenge devotees of Our Lady to do their share in works of justice, freedom and peace.

Works of justice and freedom

PCP II stresses that “devotion to Mary shows itself in works, and the works which are needed today in the Philippines are the works of justice and freedom from oppression.”

The shrine liturgist warned that devotion to Mary, which does not collaborate in works that bring about justice, peace, reconciliation, and freedom, is a devotion that is far from the Mary presented in the Gospels who “far from being timid, did not hesitate to proclaim that God vindicates the humble and the oppressed.”

“In its call for renewal of popular devotions PCP II states that we must not give members of other religious denominations reason for impugning the True Faith,” Esperancilla said.

He added that the faithful must avoid all excesses in their prayers and practices, especially those which will lead others to think that Catholics worship Mary and the saints and that they are more important than Christ. (Raymond A. Sebastián with reports from Fr. Mickey Cardenas)

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