Fiesta Señor notes
It was the 20th of January 2018, eve of the Fiesta Señor, Cebu feast for the Child Jesus as king.
Three ladies had just finished their second day of selling environment-friendly goods like wallets and delicacies from organic food sources at a seasonal booth by the sea.
Having left their station, they looked for a way to reach the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.
The coastal road was full of cars and other vehicles headed in the same direction. Soon enough it seemed to the women that they would not be able able to catch a ride to church to be on time for the evening Mass at 6:00.
Nevertheless, they began walking northward, determined to trudge their way to their destination on foot. After a few minutes, they met a traffic enforcer on the road.
“Can we walk through the viaduct?” they asked him.
He said they can as long as they were careful.
The viaduct had no sidewalk.
As they continued walking, the youngest of the ladies cried out, “Santo Niño, please help us.”
After a few minutes, a car pulled over close to them. A gentleman rolled down the window and called out, “Would you like to hop in?” he asked.
Feeling that their prayers were heard, the ladies took the opportunity and accepted the offer of a ride.
They introduced themselves to the men who had come from Manila and wanted to join the vespers celebration in the basilica for the first time.
One of the men eventually said he had noticed the ladies walking for some time and remembered the time drivers were kind to him when he hitch-hiked. He said he decided with his friend to pay past goodness forward.
They arrived in church just as the Mass started.
As the church and churchyard were filled to capacity, they stood with others outside, specifically at the corner of Magallanes and Lapu-Lapu streets.
When the time came for communion, one of the three ladies started feeling anxious. It seemed impossible for them to wade through the vast crowd to get to a communion post.
Fortunately for them, several lay ministers went out of their way to distribute the Sacred Host to everyone in the crowd. A lay minister gave Holy Communion about a meter from the ladies.
They counted another blessing.
* * *
Pope Francis’ representative to the Philippines, the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia attended the events on the eve of the Fiesta Señor. Before the end of the Mass officiated by Palo Archbishop John Du, he spoke to the devotees.
Here are excerpts from his brief message:
“I was thinking, since this morning, very early, you were going along the [Mactan channel] following Jesus, baby Jesus, the Santo Niño and this afternoon, for some hours, going around this beautiful city following the Santo Niño. What does it mean?” he said.
“It means that when we do not know where to go in life, what to do, what to choose, the right way is to follow Jesus — He is the way.
This wonderful manifestation of people, let it be our expression that ‘yes, we want to follow You, Jesus.
You are the way, You are the truth, You are the life, and I want to follow you, not alone but with people, and when I am weak, I can be helped by somebody who is close to me.
When I want to stop, they will gather around me and will bring me along. So we help each other to be better Christians, better disciples of Jesus.’ Let this be our profession of faith on this very special day.”
“And as a gift of gratitude … I will give you, together with all the bishops here, the blessing of Pope Francis who loves the Filipino people and for sure has vivid memories of his visit three years ago. When I met him, he told me: You will find the faith of the people, you will be edified by these wonderful people.”
“So you will receive the blessing of the Holy Father to continue to be a sign of hope, a sign of joy, a sign of peace for your society, for your country, but also for this wonderful and great Asian continent and to the world where Filipinos are present in their lives.”
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