Yesterday, I received the following SMS message from a friend (I will write this in the long, regular form, with no usual short cuts for the words):
“400 years ago, the images of Nuestra Senora Buen Viaje (Antipolo) and Senor Padre Nazareno (Quiapo) landed in our country. Please say a few prayers for peace in our land, in honor of our Lord Jesus, with the intercessions of Mary, Our Mother, St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist (after whom the Quiapo basilica minor is named), and St. Josemaria Escriva who is celebrating his birthday today. God bless you always. Have a nice day!”
So many events in one day (January 9, 2007)? It must have been a day filled with blessings. It is a practice, here in the Philippines, to go on a pilgrimage to Antipolo in the month of May every year, where we will find Our Lady of Good Voyage. Travelers likewise visit the Antipolo Church at any time to pray for safety during journeys and trips.
I also read in the newspapers that it is the 400th Feast of the Black Nazarene. The Black Nazarene in Quiapo, draws a lot of devotees. Numerous people join the procession, either in thanksgiving for a petition that has been granted or to ask for a favor or an answer to their prayers.
It has been said that how the Quiapo procession progresses is an indication of how the coming year will turn out. If the procession is orderly, then the coming year will be a good one. If the procession is disorderly and people are hurt and/or killed (and it does happen due to the huge crowds that gather), then the coming year will be a difficult one.
Filipinos are a prayerful lot. Our devotions and our faith sustain us through the difficulties of daily living. We are an interesting study in contrast though — for even as we pray, we also do things which are not too proper nor moral. Not too worry though. The Bible is filled with stories of “imperfect men” being called to carry out God’s perfect will. In our Potter’s Hands, even dirty clay can be made into beautiful vessels.