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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Unquestionable Faith?

I was a bit flushed because of a slight fever when I woke up this morning. So, right after my morning routine, I decided to go back sleeping.

But sleep was elusive so I decided to switch channels and look for interesting shows instead. There on screen, I was greeted with a large throng of devotees of Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

Thousands of people would be joining the procession around the Quiapo area to honor the black life-size image of Nazarene which originally came from Mexico including of course no less than the Vice- President of the Philippines who is a known devotee.

It never failed to amaze me the conjecture of activities like this. Just the other day if I am not mistaken, the same Religious activity caused an accident to many devotees including the death of a twelve-year-old boy. The boat hit a live wire while they were having a fluvial procession.

Idolatry? Fanaticism? Devotion? or just plain and simple unquestionable faith?

Back in Naga City where I've finished schooling and worked for five years, the same activity is being held every year. Traslacion, Fluvial Procession, then as the years go by the activities became endless (sometimes, you won't see anymore the connection to the festivity- like having a street party or beauty contest).

But, the image of the activity I could never forget was the time when I was in third year high school where I've got to see the celebration only in TV. It was unbelievable! Priests tried to stop devotees from ripping the cloth of the image of Virgin of Peñafrancia. Drank voyadores (they call voyadores the men who carried the image) were shouting, some people who were about to faint were being thrown out of the crowd. My heart lurched many times when the image swayed left and right ready to fall but the ever attending priests tried to save the Patroness of Bicolandia.

Years later, I've got to experience first hand the Traslacion because the school where I taught was a Catholic school. It was a far cry from the one I saw on TV. We were first in the long line with my pupils in a formal attire. It was a solemn one because we were praying the rosary until Naga Metropolitan Cathedral. However, when I was home again and while watching TV, I couldn't believe it when I saw the same scenes back when I was in high school. What happened?

Then, I realized we were very far from the image that's why we didn't really see what was happening. The shouting, the foul smell of voyadores, then that uncontrollable desire of some devotees to touch the image even if it means shredding the Patroness with flowers that adorn her. The organizers tried every year to make the celebration a solemn one but it seems that some are just simply hardheaded.

I grew up with deep belief in God. The kind of belief that doesn't question where the origin of belief rooted from. However, I learned also that pure "faith" doesn't need to be shown in activities like these. I mean, if you can commemorate the feast in a solemn way like praying in a quiet corner, why not do so?

As far as I know Jesus by reading the bible, He communicated to His Father through deep communion in a quiet corner any time He wants it.
Why do we need for the feast itself to show our devotion? Why can't we pray everyday to show our love or rather why can't we have a celebration like a procession where solemnity will prevail? Sacrifice doesn't need really to be out in the street, join the crowd, endanger your life, walk bare-footed, and shout how much you love God.

I'm dreading watching the news tonight because I know just like every year, they would feature again those who get hurt or in some years those who died because of the large crowd. History really repeats itself. (Niña)

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