Photo by the Associated Press
The devotion of millions of Filipinos to the Black Nazarene never ceased to amaze me to this day. I would sit in awe and in wonder at how they could endure walking barefoot for very long hours- at how they could wrestle and struggle for a grip on the rope that holds the statue, or how they could fight for their lives just for a kiss or to dampen their towels.
The Black Nazarene’s devotees’ testify year after year, how these simple but difficult acts they endure at the procession have translated to realized dreams, fulfilled promises and even unexpected miracles. Their lives have changed, they say, because of their devotion to the Black Nazarene.
Being a Catholic, I know that statues such as the Black Nazarene are but symbols of God’s love. We must not put our faith in the statue alone- but in what it represents. Like many of the devotees, I have also dampened a handkerchief or a towel on images of Jesus, Mother Mary and the saints when I visit a church for the first time, or during Holy Week. I do so because I believe that it is one tangible way of expressing my faith, that my prayer is heard.
But yes, while I am amazed at the devotion of millions of Filipinos to the Black Nazarene, I understand that faith is more than that. I believe that we endure what we can in this life, simply because we put our faith in the Lord that he knows what is best for us.
In recent months, I have prayed a constant devotion to the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Claire. Miracles have happened in my life and prayers have been answered. My faith at this time in my life has not withered, but instead has gone stronger. Like many other things in my life that I do not understand, I put all my trust in the Lord for everything he has done and will do for me.
I am not as strong as people think of me to be. But I am made strong, because of my faith.