JARO, Iloilo City, Feb. 3, 2016 – “Mary, Mother of Mercy, turn your eyes of mercy toward us, help us to contemplate the face of mercy, Jesus Christ.”
This is the prayer of the thousands of pilgrims who flocked to Jaro to honor Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria on Feb. 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
“Although it seems very long, the prayer – which is the theme the Jaro fiesta in the year of the Jubilee of Mercy – was chosen in order to reflect Mary, the Mother of Mercy, as our model,” said Msgr. Alejandro P. Esperancilla, Special Assistant for Liturgical Affairs of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles.
“The prayer can also serve as a sort of “mantra” that we can repeat many times so that Mary, who lived out in her life the mercy of God, can inspire us to do acts of mercy, so that we too can become instruments of mercy,” added the liturgist.
Through the Holy Door
A distinct feature of the liturgy to mark the Jubilee of Mercy in this year’s fiesta is that the Solemn Entrance in every Novena Mass and main Eucharistic celebration of the feast is made through the Holy Door.
“In each day of the nine-day novena and the day of the fiesta, we come to the Shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, the Mother of Mercy, as pilgrims –pilgrims passing through the Holy Door,” explained Fr. Julius Almeria, Chairman of the Jaro Archdiocesan Commission on Liturgy.
“The celebrant, ministers and representatives of the faithful assemble outside the Holy Door and enter the temple through it.”
Taking from the Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee of Mercy, Almeria explained, “The Holy Door has been used since time immemorial as a ritual expression of conversion. Pilgrims and penitents pass through it as a gesture of leaving the past behind and crossing the threshold from sin to grace, from slavery to freedom, and from darkness to light. It is a symbol of God’s everlasting mercy and his constant invitation to us to return to Him.”
Availing of confession
Almeria also underlined that to benefit from the graces of this pilgrimage “it is important that we avail of the sacrament of Confession.”
“The faithful were encouraged to avail of the sacrament of Confession at the start of every novena Mass,” said the priest.
Mercy in the Eucharist, family
In his message Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo underlined the multi-faceted aspects of this year’s Jaro fiesta.
“We are asking Mary to accompany us in this triple celebration of the Jubilee of Mercy, the Year of the Family, and the Year of the Eucharist.”
The Iloilo prelate reminded the faithful that it is within the context of families that the virtue of mercy practiced.
“[This practice of mercy] includes mutual understanding, forgiveness, and praying for one another… and eating together every now and then,” said Lagdameo.
He said:“The Eucharist must likewise be offered by the family together. Set some Sundays or holidays when your family can offer the Eucharist.”
“The Family Rosary! How true it is [that] the family that prays together, stays together!” stressed the archbishop. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas / CBCP News)