Online Masses show stronger faith to Señor Sto. Niño
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu was hardly full on the last day of the 456th Fiesta Señor celebration on Friday, January 22.
But Augustinian friars running this centuries-old church said they were glad that faith to the Holy Child remained unwavering.
The basilica reopened its doors to devotees who want to join in their physical Masses since January 18 after they decided to forego face-to-face Novena Masses last January 12 due to health concerns brought about by an increasing influx of the crowd.
During his Homily for the Hubo Mass on Friday, Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr., rector of the basilica, said they were happy to see that petitions and prayers to the Holy Child had continued to pour albeit virtually.
“Petitions and prayers we’ve seen through our livestream Masses on social media just go to show that despite the pandemic, devotion to the Señor Sto. Niño remained strong and deep,” Nohara said in Cebuano.
“Although it broke our heart into million or trillion pieces, we have to do what is right and be responsible Christians in our community to take care of life,” he added.
Local officials in Cebu City government have allowed Augustinian priests to welcome devotees to participate in the Hubo Mass at the basilica’s open Pilgrim Center.
Hubo, in Cebuano, literally means undress, wherein the replica of the Holy Child will be stripped of its fiesta clothes, given a ritual bath, before it will be draped with simpler clothes.
But unlike during the first five days of the previous Novena Masses, there were fewer devotees inside the open Pilgrim Center, that can accommodate a maximum of 1,500 individuals with physical distancing in place, on Friday.
More so, the streets surrounding the basilica, all closed to traffic, were almost empty except for patrolling police officers and vendors.
Nohara also urged faithful to stay humble as symbolized by the ceremonial changing of clothes of the image of Señor Sto. Niño.
“This Hubo is symbolic for devotees of Señor Sto. Niño as this reminds us of our desire and committennt to be humble in our hearts,” he added.
The Hubo Mass marks the end of the week-long celebration of Fiesta Señor, the feast in honor of Señor Sto. Niño. /dbs
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