Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pope Francis's visit to the Philippines prompts two of 2015's best headlines

The year is young, but it will be hard to top the headlines of these items reported by Dierdre Haggerty of the Long Island Catholic Examiner (bold in original) ; click on the links for the full articles. The first, from January 7, 2015:

Pope's visit to Philippines will require traffic cops to wear diapers

The article links to the following (bold in original):

Procession of the Black Nazarene

The largest procession
The procession of the Black Nazarene is the largest procession in the country. It takes place on January the 9th and on Good Friday through the streets of Quiapo, a small part of metro Manila. The procession dates from the 17th century. Thousands of men parade through the streets with the life-sized, black wooden statue of Jesus (of Nazarene).

A miracle after touching the statue?
During the feast of the Black Nazarene thousands of barefoot men join the annual procession. Walking barefoot during the procession is seen as a sign of humility. During this procession the men yell "Viva SeƱor". Everybody who is in the neighbourhood of the cross tries to touch the statue. People believe that a miracle can happen after touching it. The statue was bought by a priest in Mexico and brought to Manila in 1606.

A black Christ?
The Black Nazarene is a more than 200-year-old statue. Black? One tale is telling that during the Spanish colonial period missionaries brought an icon to Manila. During the trip however, there was a fire on board and the icon, the Nazarene, caught fire. Despite its charred condition, the Nazarene was kept save and honored from then on. The statue is to be seen in the Saint John the Baptist Church in Quiapo in Manila, where it has been housed since 1787.

Feast of the Black Nazarene
Every year thousands of pilgrims from all over the country come to Manila to be part of the procession of the Black Nazarene. All participants in the procession hope that they will have the opportunity to touch the wooden statue. They hope that this will protect them from harm and ensure health in the future. Indeed, it is said that sometimes persons were healed of diseases after touching the statue! (A Filipino: "My daughter was very sick, so I joined this procession last year. Now she is cured...."). Some of them follow the statue during the procession because they believe it is an atonement of their sins or hope for some miracle.
The Procession of the Black Nazarene is an exhibition not of Christian faith, but of pagan superstition; click on the link for the full text of the article from the 19th century by John Nelson Darby, Superstition is not Faith; or, The True Character of Romanism.

They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’
and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
They have turned their backs to me
and not their faces;
yet when they are in trouble, they say,
‘Come and save us!’
Jeremiah 2:27 (NIV)

My people consult a wooden idol,
and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
they are unfaithful to their God.
Hosea 4:12 (NIV)

Then there was this item, from January 13, 2015:

Pope Francis encourages breastfeeding in the Sistine Chapel

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