The month of September is the Moment of Ina, or our Lady of Penafrancia, Bicolandia’s recognized patron saint, symbol of religious pride, regional unity, protector of the poor, the afflicted, the hopeful, the sinners, businessmen, politicians and any other member of the Roman Catholic church who implore divine intercession particularly during their times of need.
Our Lady of Penafrancia, or Nuestra Senora de Pena de Francia in Spanish, is known worldwide as the principal patroness and Queen of Bicol. Pope Pius XI granted the image a Canonical coronation on September 20, 1924 via his Apostolic delegate, Monsignor Guillermo Piani. Since then the image has been adored and honored by every Bicolano and Bicolano-loving friends all over the world. Her fame has led for the City of Naga to be referred to as a pilgrim city and her abode has become a place of worship and earnest veneration.
We recognize the diverse ways we pay homage to Her. Some with prayers, some by going to church daily or every Sunday or every religious holiday, doing or paying others to say novenas for us and the families, donations or financial assistance to the church and through any other earthly form of piousness which they feel will reach the holy intermediary and deliver our wish. Lately, however, people change their ways and some of the changes are unwelcomed and inappropriate.
The traditional Viva la Virgin chants is becoming a hollow expression of love and religiosity to the Lady. Every step in the procession is slowly becoming a step of egotism, even of arrogance or self-importance compared to others. Providentially present technology has come, and it has developed into a scourge of pretentious devotees. Modern gadgets such as smart phones and video cameras do not lie. What their artificial lenses see and posted in social media and flashed in television screens are hard to be shut up or lock down. Physical acts even body movements, the winks of the eyes and unguarded flirts of the hands of people depicts concealed intentions and human character. Maybe these electronic tools are a few of the many modern gifts from God to check and expose hypocrisy among His people.
The recent traslacion or procession of the blessed Virgin exposed this display of hypocrisy among some of our brothers and sisters in the catholic church. Fistfights or rumble among voyadores, drunk and not drunk among them did not escape the lens of personal cameras. The same with politicians joining these kinds of religious events. People in politics, unfortunately, have the worst of human dilemma. Good, bad or camouflaged objectives in marching with people during religious processions will always be analyzed by people: their followers, critics and even fencesetters. For their fans it is devotion but for their critics and opponents it smacks of political opportunism. These kinds of acts seen in public here and around the world diminishes the spirituality and holiness of the celebration.
It gives pain and disappointment to the genuine devotees of the Virgin to see that Her moment his being debased by the influence of alcohols and politics. These situations give reasons to other religious groups to reinforce their issues against the roman catholic church - and this is not good. It portents of darkened clouds ahead, not only to the ecclesiastical but to the time-honored traditions of the Bicolanos. RRB