[As far as I can recollect, people would be teeming at the BACLARAN Shrine on Christmas day but most especially so during the LENTEN season particularly at its start on ASH WEDNESDAY. Photos above show the ocean of people at the SHRINE this morning at the 5:30 AM NOVENA.]
MIERCOLES DE CENIZA ngayon kaya’t mga simbaha’y puno’ ng aksyon,
Dito sa PINAS tunay na may selebrasyon;
Umpisa ito ng KUARESMA1, siyang takdang unang araw —
Mga noo ng mga mananampalataya’y halos ay mahalikaw…
Ngayo’y aking nadarama ang SAYA’t SIGLA,
Kapag nakikita kong BACLARAN Shrine
ay lipos ang tao sa PLAZA2;
Dahil sa biyahe ko noong 1999 sa ESPANYA3,
Nalungkot ako dahil halos walang tao sa Spain tuwing MISA!
Kaya nga’t ako’y tunay na naniniwala,
Ang PILIPINAS may MISYONG nakatakda;
Di nga ba’t halos sa mundo at kung saan,
Mga PINOY ang syang sa pagpapasigla ng PANANAMPALATAYA ang pumapasan4!
Sa MADRID nakita ko halos mga PINOY ang deboto,
Kahit na nga minsan sa HISTORYA ng Espanyang totoo;
Mga KASTILANG KATOLIKO’y tumalikod sa KATESISMO5,
Dahil sa gusot na nangyari, panahon ni FRANCO GENERALISSIMO!
Totoong walang PERPEKTONG Simbahan,
Subalit PANANAMPALATAYA dapat ay huwag babawasan;
Kasi nga ay ang mundong MATERYAL…
Malayo sa larangan at bagay-bagay na CELESTIAL!
Kaya’t sa MAHAL na ARAW na darating,
Ating limi-limiin ang HIRAP at DUSA ng Poon nating angkin;
Upang sa ano mang hirap nating dadaanan,
Hindi tayo mawawalan ng PAG-ASA kailan man.
[Legend: 1 – KUARESMA means the LENTEN SEASON and that the start of the LENTEN SEASON is on Ash Wednesday.
2 – If my recollection proves me right, the PLAZA fronting the Baclaran Shrine would actually be filled by an ocean of people ONLY during ASH WEDNESDAYs as people would line up to have their foreheads anointed with ash, as ash-anointing stations are located thereat.
3 – It was my first trip to EUROPE in April 1999 with my friend and spiritual director, Fr. Bernardo Blanco. We first travelled to Paris, then in Rome and finally in Spain, where I had the opportunity to stay in Fr. Blanco’s nephew’s house. We finally went to Fr. Blanco’s birthplace in Ceadea de Aliste and as Fr. Blanco celebrated Holy Mass during our stay thereat at the town chapel…most of the time, it was I and Fr. Blanco plus his elder sister Anastacia who would be the only ones attending the Holy Mass.
4 – I believe I heard it both from Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis that Filipinos are becoming the vanguard of almost all movements throughout the world in reviving with added zest the seemingly debilitating and faltering Catholic faith. I have seen this in Las Vegas, in Ontario, Canada and at the Parioli district in Rome.
5 – I learned when I was in Spain that when General Francisco Franco’s popularity was already waning, following the Spanish Civil War; Gen. Franco enlisted the help of the Catholic Church in Spain to restore back the popularity he once had among the Spanish folks. It was said that by way of a mutually symbiotic deal, Gen. Franco was asked to appoint all of his cabinet ministers from an organization which was highly identified as deeply affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. But the appointed ministers allegedly got immersed into corruption and a major part of the Spanish people sort of “rebelled” against the Church. Thus, the reason for the low-attendance during Holy Masses.