JARO, Iloilo, June 3, 2014—Defining true piety, a liturgist criticized how some devotees’ belief in God borders on idolatry and folk superstition, turning scapulars into anting-anting.
Msgr. Alejandro P. Esperancilla, special assistant for liturgical affairs of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles in Jaro, Iloilo
asked, “Does my wearing of the scapular mean that my salvation is assured? If I fulfil the nine-day novena does that mean that God is duty-bound to give what I ask of him? This feeling of a false sense of security can do more harm than good.”
Rich in values
The priest noted the excessive “subjectivism, externalism, and sentimentalism” many practitioners often put into popular devotions.
But he warned that these excesses “should not bring us to the extreme of abandoning what for years have nourished and preserved us in the faith”.
According to Esperancilla, popular devotions “can give practitioners a false sense of security in the presence of the living God because the promises attached to devotions are explained in a simplistic manner”.
He gave as examples the many religious statues inside jeepneys, business establishments and malls and the questionable motive for their placement in some cases.
Esperancilla added that popular devotions tend to “degenerate into magical and superstitious practices or even idolatry.”
These practices, the priest said, are to be fostered because “they are rich in values”.
Vehicles of evangelization
Quoting the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II), he shared that “our attitude has to be one of critical respect, encouragement and renewal” adding that with proper direction “they can become true expressions of faith” and we may use them “as vehicles of evangelization towards worship in spirit and in truth.”
“These traits mark so many of our devotions and it is unfortunate that though we are a religious people, our faith remain infantile and lacking when it comes to morality in politics, in our involvement in society, and other Christian values by which we are called to transform our lives and the life of our society,” said the priest. (Raymond A. Sebastián with reports from Fr. Mickey Cárdenas)