After a day like today, I am tempted to believe that Saint Benedict was Filipino! He had a great adage to “receive all guests as Christ.”
This motto, this Benedictine spirit of warm welcome, has greeted me many times over today especially with the friends who have been my companions as we made our little pilgrimage throughout metro Manila!
Three points of reflection that really struck a chord within me:
1. When I was a teenager, my grandmother instilled a devotion in me to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, taking me to countless novenas in San Francisco to make known our special intentions. She always described the many pilgrims who came to Baclaran which is the central place of this devotion. Today, I knelt and prayed at this very shrine which my grandmother always spoke of with great affection. I was moved to have reached such a moment in my journey of faith.
2. Many years ago, my grandmother taught me the devotion to the Black Nazarene. She taught me that there’s meaning in our human suffering as it is all rooted in the love of Jesus. She told me many stories of visiting Quiapo where pilgrims hasten every Friday to pray before the suffering image of Christ. Today, in the midst of a busy and congested Manila, I stepped foot onto that holy ground, feeling the devotion that my grandmother has been so grounded in all these years.
3. Not realizing that today was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we stumbled across the Minor Basilica of Saint Sebastian that houses the very first image of Our Lady under this patronage! How blessed we were to have the front pew to attend the school Mass on this very special day! It was as if our Lady called us to her, to be like children and to come….
The Filipino is deeply connected in their roots and their culture to the divine! Whether rich or poor, it seems that all ground is equal at the foot of the cross of Christ. Here, the Filipino prays and faith is animated in the very places my friends have brought me to experience! And I am ever so grateful. Grateful that such warm hospitality has welcomed me to this beautiful land of my heritage.