‘Devotions must lead to liturgy’ —priest

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JARO, Iloilo, June 6, 2014—Wanting to put the faithful on the right track to true worship, a priest recognized the “need to recover the content and spirit of popular devotional practices” which he stressed must lead people back to the liturgy.

“Properly conducted, popular devotions lead us to the liturgy and they evoke a wonderful image of Mary leading and presenting us to her Son,” Msgr. Alejandro P. Esperancilla, special assistant for liturgical affairs of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles in Jaro, Iloilo said.

Many Filipinos Catholics have a favorite novena they pray in honor of a particular saint or title of the Blessed Mother. (Photo: Raymond A. Sebastián)

He recommended that novenas and similar devotions be done before mass, as in the case of the Dawn Rosary.

He explained that this is what the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) had in mind when it taught that popular devotions must lead to the liturgy – the culmination and the highest point of Christian worship.

The priest warned that uninformed ways of doing devotions tend to remain superficial, external practices.

“Overemphasizing these external practices therefore lead the Christian to a wrong feeling of security. They create a “vending machine” mentality in his relationship with God—‘I do something and God will give me what I ask of Him,’” he said.

According to Esperancilla, there is a need to “interiorize” popular devotions—one that affects the kind of life one lives.

Heeding the call of Pope Paul VI, novena prayers and chants, the priest pointed out, must include biblical passages and themes.

“When reciting novenas, a portion must be reserved for the reading of Scriptures and that these devotions should have God’s word as an integral part,” he shared.

In talking about the life of the saints or of Mary, Esperancilla said, the preacher should put less emphasis on their miracles and more emphasis on their lives, by doing so these examples can be connected to Gospel values.

The priest added that the preaching of the messages of apparitions and visions should be scripturally founded to highlight their consistency with the Gospels.

“It should be emphasized that the message of Mary is no different from the message of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church,” Esperancilla explained. (Raymond A. Sebastián with reports from Fr. Mickey Cárdenas)

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