Faithful pray for protection from calamities in start of novena Masses
Hope and faith amid the onslaught of calamities was the theme and prayer for the start of this year’s novena Masses for the Sinulog observance.
Amid some rain, 45,000 faithful took part in the annual “Walk with Jesus” which marked the start of the novena leading to the feast of the Sto. Niño de Cebu.
Devotees from all walks of life carried lighted candles, umbrellas, and images of the Sto. Niño as they walked from Fuente Osmeña down to the centuries-old Basilica del Sto. Niño.
They prayed the holy rosary and sang chants in honor of the child Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary during the dawn procession.
The carroza bearing the image of the child Jesus entered the jampacked basilica complex at 5:45 am. The first novena Mass was then celebrated by Fr. Jonas Mejares, OSA, rector of the basilica.
In his homily, Mejares lauded the faithful for joining the dawn procession amid the rain.
“Pagkatim-os sa inyong gugma sa Ginoo. Pagkadako sa inyong pagtuo og pagsalig Kaniya. Walay igong uwan nga makapakgang sa inyong pagpadayag sa inyong gugma. Ako makaingon nga dinhi sa Sugbo, dinhi gayud ang tinubdan og duyanan sa pagtuong Kristiyano sa atong nasud. (Your love to the Lord is sincere. Your faith and trust to Him is deep. The rain failed to dampen the way you manifest your love to the Lord. I can therefore say that Cebu is indeed a source and cradle of Christianity in the Philippines),” he told the congregation gathered at the pilgrim center and outside the basilica complex.
Mejares encouraged the people to remain hopeful in the aftermath of the Oct. 15 earthquake and the Nov. 8 devastation caused by supertyphoon “Yolanda” last year.
“Ang tanan pagsuway lamang. Wala kita nag-inusara. Ang Sto. Ñino nag-uban kanato. Siya ang atong paglaum. (The bad things we encountered were just meant to test us. But we are not alone. The Sto. Niño is with us. He is our hope),” he said.
Msgr. Mejares ended his homily by singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Fr. Mejares led the installation of the hermano and hermana mayores for this year’s fiesta senor, Jay and Elvina Roble.
The faithful waved their hands when the Bato-Balani sa Gugma was sung during the offertory as a sign of submission to God’s will.
The Bato-balani sa Gugma is an ancient prayer hymn to the child Jesus. The Mass was broadcast on LED TV and flat screen TVs installed inside and outside the basilica.
At the end of the Mass, Fr. Mejares led the devotees who danced the traditional Sinulog.
“Pit Señor sa mga biktima sa linog kini! Pit Señor sa mga biktima ni Yolanda kini. Pit Señor sa mga volunteers kini,” were among the petitions chanted during the traditional Sinulog.
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