MANILA, Jan. 9, 2016 ? A veteran devotee of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo asks everyone who intends to take part in the ongoing feast day activities today, Jan. 9, Saturday, to preserve the sacredness of the occasion by shunning fanaticism and by being respectful of others.
“Be calm. Make sure everyone is following the rules. Respect your fellow “mamamasan” as well as the marshalls. Most important of all, attend Holy Mass. Afterall, Christ is always present in the Eucharist. The Nazarene procession is just a bonus,” said Nestor Awitin Jr., an “Hijos” of the miraculous image since 2000, who credits everything he has now to the miraculous image in Quiapo.
In an interview with CBCP News, the staff nurse from Quezon City implored what he referred to as “seasonal devotees”—those who do not attend Mass in the Minor Basilica of Quiapo even on feast days or Holy Weeks but are the first to join the procession—not to trivialize the Traslación (the transfer of the image from Luneta to Quiapo).
“To seasonal devotees, I tell them that the Black Nazarene is enshrined inside the Basilica the rest of the year. They are free to visit the image there anytime without having to join the crowd. Besides, the Lord knows what’s in their heart,” he explained.
2 faces of devotion
According to Awitin, Nazarene followers are generally of two types: the true devotee and the “fanatic.”
He said true devotees are Catholics who go to Mass regularly on Sundays and Fridays, and whose beliefs are in accord with what the Church teaches.
On the other hand, fanatics are folk believers who are obsessed by superstition and who tend to focus on the “magical.”
Eucharist trumps procession
Awitin went on to point out that no amount of pious devotion can equal the power of the Eucharist.
“We can hold the procession ropes all we want. We can also climb the andas as often as we want. But we must know that our devotion and penance are of little value if we do not have the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, in us,” he added.
Awitin, however, laments he will have to miss this year’s feast day, given that he left the country late in 2015 for a job in Riyadha, Saudi Arabia.
“This is the first time I will not be in Quiapo in person for the fiesta. Good thing there’s live streaming,” he said
Meanwhile, Mharbert M. Canilang reminded fellow Catholics that the Feast of the Black Nazarene is nothing less than a day of giving thanks to God and of begging for His merciful love.
“During fiestas, we can see Catholics from all walks of life becoming united by common their love for the Black Nazarene. It’s the time of the year we can hardly distinguish between the rich and poor because they both walk barefooted, sweat together, and sit down together on the sidewalks,” he noted.
“They are happy, knowing that they have received the Black Nazarene’s mercy and compassion,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)