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Post Peñafrancia: A Reaction of a Devotee

Steeler here is entirely teeming with gratitude to the Archdiocese of Caceres , Bicol, Philippines, for every and all religious undertaking it has summoned and executed with circumspect in view of the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning of the quarantines and lockdowns, but especially during this year’s Peñafrancia Celebration. Because of its “listening,” (oft quoted metaphor which was a major ingredient in this year’s theme of “Fostering Dialogue and Harmony in Spirit of Mary’s Gentleness and Humility) that is to illustrate the need to zip the mouth up for once, Oops! and interact with the aroma of what the other is saying, in the matter of the holding of devout activities especially, breaking away with the olden tradition of Traslacion and Pagsacay or Fluvial Procession, Naga City was able to block a potentially health delirium of massive hospitalization. This is something admirable of the humility and gentleness that the head of the Archdiocese have time and again, shown. If he were a fixture of arrogance and defiance, he could have simply put his foot down and insisted to pursue with all of the Peñafrancia religious exercises that devotees have been accustomed to since time immemorial ( I say this because I know for a fact that there are those who will not shy from speaking). But he did not, and instead conscientiously “listened” to what the head of the City will have to say about the inalienable need to protect the lives of the people. I saw the live coverage of that meeting held at the Metropolitan Cathedral and observed how the Archbishop demonstrated his genius for listening. I suspect that while he was lending his ear to the Mayor, he already was drawing in his head the actions he will have to implement in order to ensure that while there will be no crowd, no congregation of sort, every devotee genuine in their faith and belief will not feel deprived of that communication with the Lady of the Peñafrancia nor with Her son.

My twin daughters have correctly observed: “if you can’t see the Archbishop at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd or the Cathedral, you will see surely find him at the other parishes!” , which they of course knew because the live streamed holy mass celebrations incidentally, have been earnestly brought to the very chasm of our abode via the superior technical management and resolute endeavor of Mr.Dadoy Bien and his team, hence there is no reason why it would not be possible for them to not have noticed that. He is ubiquitous; is aware of the precept of practicing what is preached, and cannot be detected from his face any sign of surrender; you will not hear his lectures becoming inferior from the round-the-clock presiding and preaching here and there, or from other administrative work he does as leader of the flock each day. You simply get buoyed while listening to the substance in his fluency and gain inspiration with his vigor which is always illustrated by his communication skill of among others, closing the gap between him and his audience by moving about in front of the pulpit.

Well, Steeler grew up seeing her maternal grandmother leave the house for the first mass in the morning and go back home only after the last mass in the afternoon; she grew up praying the 6 post meridian Angelus with her mother and siblings, attended Marian devotions and other spiritual activities, went to a Catholic school for girls for 11 years and was once a student visitor at the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary; her life is encompassed with relatives who are priests, nuns, and active members of the Catholic church ; she has witnessed how her departed father exemplified his unselfishness to his church, and there are more, but this is just to say she’s discussing the topic not for attention’s sake , duh, but rather to unabashedly give thanks to those who have made this year’s Peñafrancia celebration a deafening symbol of what listening ought to be. If the Archbishop did not listen, there would have been an exceeding amount of drama we would have been all reading on our walls because of what might have been a colossal amount of covid infections. Instead, we were able to celebrate the fiesta of our Virgin of Peñafrancia in subtlety - not provocative, not boisterous, just essential. In all sincerity, much gratitude hence to you all. You have no idea how much your preparation brought back us somewhere in time and galvanized our desire to resist the virus so that one day we may have the opportune occasion to once more join the Peñafrancia religious traditions in the flesh. Thank you very much.

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