Friday, January 10, 2014

Article: Pinoy Folk Catholicism - The Black Nazarene

Pinoy Folk Catholicism - The Black Nazarene

Original photo from Constantine Agustin (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Black_Nazarene.jpg


My housemate, unexpectedly, once asked me: would you like to go and see the procession of the Black Nazarene? It was an awkward question to answer at best, since I had no particular liking to be in crowds, and I wasn’t a religious person either. But now that the procession has come around again, and given how the Philippines has been in some sort of calamity bull’s eye the past year, perhaps the procession of the Black Nazarene, for all of its chaos and strangeness to outsiders looking in, is necessary for the Filipino psyche.

****

However, there is a dark side to this celebration of survival, and it is in the concept of trading for the protection of the Black Nazarene. It is a psychological quid pro quo with God. All will be forgiven and all will be healed with the sacrifice and suffering that the procession sometimes brings.

How many times have we heard of people who sacrifice so much for the procession, and yet spend the rest of the year as if nothing has happened? How many people start worshipping the statue’s “special properties” without thinking of the entity it represents?

This, too, is very Filipino, the idea that you can bargain with God. Some people point to the mistaken notion of indulgences that were given out by the Catholic Church in the past, while others point to a deeper tradition of communicating with ancient deities. Whatever the case may be, the modern-day application has been one where a person could technically “equal” the scales for their sins by sacrifice and devotion.

Read more at the Philippine Online Chronicle

*Original photo by Constantine Agustin, as per Wikipedia.