Posted on several social media accounts are nostalgic pictures depicting previous Traslacion and Fluvial processions honoring ‘INA’, Our Lady of Peñafrancia; and El Divino Rostro (Divine Face of the Lord Jesus Christ), showing some who took part in the religious rites.
Also personally noticed are devotees walking along the streets of Naga City donning yellow colored headbands bearing the words “Viva La Virgen”. Heard over the air lanes too are fiesta greetings from prominent or wanting to be prominent personalities and establishments.
This, nothwithstanding the suspension of the major activities traditionally marking the annual regional fiesta in honor of Bicol’s Regional Patroness, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The situation strongly indicates that a mere suspension of the major rites does not automatically lead to weakening the people’s faith, nor does it mean lessening the devotees’ fervor. On the contrary it could even nurture a much purer devotion.
Absence makes the heart go further. This used to be a favorite expression about matters of the heart. Relationship among couples becomes more stable at the time when by reason of necessity they are temporarily separated physically. Emotionally they become more deeply-rooted. Marital ties last for a lifetime guided by intense spirituality.
Even among families, friends, relatives, communities and schoolmates, it has been proven that absence makes the heart grow fonder. On the other hand, it is undeniable that familiarity breeds either contempt or want of concern and taking for granted attitude.
Relations become too ordinary. Rituals are taken literally, disregarding the spiritual significance. Many millennials call it boring. The non-believers describe it as paganism. Who knows? The suspension of the fiesta rites might reinvigorate faith and devotion. After all pandemics, wars, genocide, suicide bombings and even extra judicial killings cannot outlive the children of God. Hope springs eternal.
In fact there are very encouraging signs. Social distancing in public transportation has been reduced to .75m and is intended to be reduced further to one third of a meter. Death toll keeps on going down. Pharmaceutical companies are in all out competition to come up with safe vaccines.
Most significantly, those who survived the infection have testimonies proving that the illness is curable. Some with mild symptoms even claim that they did not have to be hospital-confined and voluntary quarantine plus less expensive medication sufficed.
However, reduction of measurement for physical distancing being enforced in public transportation should apply in situations less vulnerable to the spread of infection, like those attending church rites given that religious activities usually involve a more responsible segment of the society.
Many of them usually remain steady during the ceremonies with standing and kneeling the common sight. They should therefore enjoy similar privilege in order that attendance to church rites may already draw more devotees.
Somehow the pandemic has awakened among us the long needed love of nature. Most of them are now with the so called plantitos and plantitas. They have diverted their excess energies to more productive and environment friendly endeavors.
So you see, it is a matter of attitude weather to respond positively or negatively. Whatever, Viva La Virgen and Viva El Divino Rostro!