‘Hardly a loving, respectful way to honor the Lord’
We see the piety and fervor of the Filipino devotees to the Black Nazarene enthroned in Quiapo Church every year when its feast is celebrated on Jan. 9. We also noticed the crowds of devotees getting bigger each year; but so, too, the problems confronting city officials in managing them.
In this year’s celebration of the feast, we again saw the devotees, barefoot, sweating as they struggle to keep their hold on to the ropes of the carriage bearing the image, some of them fainting, their faces revealing a common expression of discomfort. How touching to watch a multitude of devotees with their unique way of expressing their faith, even if it means ending up injured or criticized for their seeming religious fanaticism.
Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the archbishop of Manila officiating the morning Mass at the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park before the start of the procession, along with several priests from different dioceses of Manila, took notice of the impatient, unruly crowd who dashed to the icon even before the Mass was over. I wonder if initial steps were taken to remind the devotees of the decorum ought to be observed during Mass; or if lay leaders of “group devotees” coming from different parishes took the initiative or responsibility of policing their ranks.
I am not in a position to judge the devotees’ manner of expressing their devotion. However, I believe they must be made to understand that the procession honoring the Black Nazarene can be done in a more orderly manner. Pushing one another in a frenzy, going up the carriage to wipe the icon with their hankies even if it means stepping on other people’s heads, and leaving behind tons of trash can hardly be called a loving, respectful way of honoring the Lord that the icon represents.
Let not the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo continue to be marred by the same chaotic scenes of misplaced piety year after year.
Gagalangin, Tondo, Manila
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