Last January 12, 2008 The Splendor of the Church dedicated an entire program for the questions sent by the audience concerning the recent Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila.
To our highly educated readers of this Blog, these questions for sure will appear very silly for you but these are the kind of questions our people here in Sorsogon are asking us and we provide answers for them. I am not a shepherd of the learned but of the simple folks. That is why my Apologetic presentations here, even though in English, are quite simple. Those who wish scholarly presentations you can check the free Catholic Encyclopedia in the web or the Catholic Answers or EWTN Library or the apologetic collections of Steve Ray. Ours is a response on a practical situation of a local community troubled by very literal application of SOLA SCRIPTURA.
Here are some questions sent during the program:
1. Father, last Jan. 9 ipinagdiwang po ang Pista ng Nazareno sa Quiapo. Sabi nila ang Nazareno day ay larawan ng dios-diosan. Totoo po ba ito? [Father, last Jan. 9 we celebrated the Feast of the Nazarene in Quiapo. They said that the Nazarene is an image of a false god. Is it true?]
Wala pong katotohanan iyan. Para po inyong makita kung sino ang Nazareno ay basahin natin ang Banal na Kasulatan. Ito po ang patunay ni Apostol San Mateo:
Mt 2:23 At siya’ y dumating at tumahan sa isang bayang tinatawag na Nazaret; upang maganap ang mga sinalita ng mga propeta, na siya’y tatawaging NAZARENO. [Matthew 2:23 KJV And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.]
Sino ang Nazareno ayon kay San Mateo — ANG ATING PANGINOONG HESUKRISTO. Kung dios-diosan ang Nazareno ang lalabay ay dios-diosan ang ating Panginoon. Ito po ay isang kalapastanganan sa Kanya. Actually, the Nazarene is the artistic representation of the Lord Jesus while he was carrying the Cross on the way to Calvary.
2. Bakit po tayo mayroong pista wala naman daw po ito sa Bibliya?
Hindi ko alam kung anong Bibliya ang ginagamit ng taong kausap mo na naninira sa ating pananampalataya. Dahil sa mga Bibliyang aking binasa ay maraming nakasulat na mga PISTA, KAPISTAHAN, FEAST AND SOLEMNITY. Mayroon tayong Pista sapagkat ito ay araw na inilaan ng ating Santa Iglesia upang alalahanin ang mga mahahalagang pangyayari sa buhay ng ating Panginoon Jesu-Cristo at ng Kanyang mga Banal. Ito ay espesyal at dakilang araw ng pagsamba sa Diyos, pananalangin at pagsasaya dahil sa mga biyayang ipinagkaloob sa atin ng Poong Maykapal. In the feast of the Nazarene we are honoring Jesus for carrying the Cross for our salvation.
Look at these Biblical citations from the King James Version, the Protestant Bible, concerning Feasts:
Gen 19:3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.
Gen 21:8 And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
Gen 26:30 And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink.
Gen 29:22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
Ex 5:1 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
Ex 10:9 And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD.
Ex 12:14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
Ex 12:17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
Ex 13:6 Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD.
Is 30:29 (King James Version) Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.
Jn 7:2 The Feast of Tabernacles
Jn 10:22 The Feast of Dedication
Jn 11:56 ‘Do you think he [Jesus] will come to the feast?’
Jn 12:12 ‘People came to the feast knew that Jesus is coming also’
* There are many other passages, too many in fact, to established beyond any reasonable doubt that Feasts, Holy Solemnity, Holy Convocations, etc. were part of the normal life of the Patriarchs, Prophets and the LORD JESUS with His Apostles.
3. Taon-taon po ay nagpupunta ang mga deboto sa Quiapo at sa ibang mga lugar upang mag-panata. Ito po ba ay naaayon sa Biblia? [Every year the devotees are travelling to Quiapo and other places to fulfill their vows. Is this based on the Bible?]
That particular devotion is called ‘pilgrimage’. The devotees are visiting holy places dedicated to the Lord or one of His saints in order to worship God and ask the intercession of that particular saint. This is Biblical! Read these:
Psalm 42:4 (New King James Version) When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
Nahum 1:15 (King James Version) Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows… [In ANG BIBLIA: “Ipagdiwang mo ang iyong mga KAPISTAHAN, Oh Juda, tuparin mo ang iyong mga PANATA…”]
Lk 2:41 [KJV] Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
* As we can see, the custom of going to a place in annual pilgrimage is a Biblical custom of the people of God and at the same time pilgrimage and vows [mga panata] are Biblically connected with each other based on Sacred Scriptures.
4. Saan ba makikita sa Biblia ang Prosisyon? [Where can we find in the Bible the Procession?]
Catholic procession is another very beautiful custom that we inherited from the prophets and the saints from Old and New Testament. The Sacred Scriptures are so full of detailed description of them especially those involving the Procession of the Ark of the Covenant of God — the Sacred Image made of wood and gold representing God’s throne of Mercy and His being worshipped by the cherubims. Please check these passages:
Ps 118:27 [NIV] The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. [Isn’t this very Catholic? Festal procession with boughs in hand leading to the altar. It looks Palm Sunday too me. ]
Ps 68:24 [NIV] ‘Procession to the Sanctuary’
* Participants: Singers, Musicians, Congregation = the faithful, Civil Authorities. Very Catholic also! In Catholic processions the faithful are gathered with singers, musicians and government leaders. Many mayors, vice mayors and village chiefs are leading Catholic processions throughout the land and also in other parts of the world. Last feast of the Nazarene the country’s Vice President, Noli de Castro, was present. In Spain King Juan Carlos annually joins the procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi just like King David before the Ark of the Covenant.
Ps 42:4 [NIV] These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
* Once again this is very Catholic: Procession to the House of God. There is an old saying in Filipino: “Pagkahaba-haba man daw ng prusisyon sa Simbahan pa rin ang tuloy.” [No matter how long the procession is it will still end in the Church!]. And some of our processions are very solemn like funeral procession but some are also festive with shoutings of Viva Sto. Niño or ‘Pit Senyor’ or Viva El Cristo Rey, etc. These are all Biblical and are good things to do.
5. Bakit po karamihan sa nagpapanata sa Poong Nazareno ay mga lalaki? [091037339–]. [Why is it that the majority of the Nazarene devotees are males?]
Because the Nazarene manifests the Lord Jesus in his gruesome suffering — carrying the cross, wounded, blackened by intense heat of the sun, etc — which is more appropriate to male personality and devotion. Whereas the women could easily relate to other aspects of the Lord’s life such as the Holy Child because in stirs the spirit of motherhood in them, the Sacred Heart of Jesus which understandably stirs the loving character and tenderness of the women and the Divine Mercy which easily enhances the kindness and goodness naturally present among women.
Of couse this is not absolute. There are alot of women devotees of the Nazarene and there are also a lot of men devotees of the Holy Child, Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy. All these devotions are Biblical and therefore approved by the Church. Whatever devotion we do as long as it is approved by the Church leads us to the worship of the One God and One Lord — JESUS CHRIST!
N.B. I WISH TO EXPRESS PERSONAL GRATITUDE TO BRO. MARWIL LLASOS FOR SHARING THESE PASSAGES TO ME DURING OUR PREVIOUS MEETINGS. PROVIDENTIALLY I WAS ABLE TO USE THEM TO EXPLAIN THE FAITH LAST JANUARY. Cheers to Bro. Mars!