True Santo Niño devotee: a ‘chaste, poor, and obedient child of God’

True Santo Niño devotee: a ‘chaste, poor, and obedient child of God’

The faithful welcome the image of the Sto. Niño de Cebu at the University of San Agustin chapel in Iloilo City. JEREMIAH VARDELEON

ILOILO City – With the theme “Señor Santo Niño: Chaste, Poor and Obedient Son of God,” the Dinagyang Festival on Jan. 28, now in its 50th year, highlights the holy humanity of Jesus Christ as the inspiration for the faithful in living chastity, poverty and obedience.

“The three evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience, which members of the consecrated life are bound, are virtues that are expected of every Christian in any state in life, whether clergy, religious, or lay, as shown by the life of the Santo Niño as Son of God,” said Fr. Edsel Raymund Alcayaga, O.S.A., parish priest of San Jose Church, the home of the image of Señor Santo Niño de Cebu in Iloilo.

The priest, who is in-charge of the liturgical committee of the festival, said: “The religious theme of this year’s Dinagyang is in line with the ‘Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons’ declared by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCP) for 2018 in our 9-year spiritual journey towards 2021, the 500th year after the arrival of Christianity [in] the Philippines.”

‘Chaste, poor, and obedient Son of God’

To stress the fact that every true devotee of the Santo Niño is called to be a “chaste, poor, and obedient child of God”, Alcayaga proceeded to explain each of these virtues found in the Santo Niño.

Explaining the virtues one by one, Alcayaga said chastity “does not merely mean ‘not getting married’ but ‘purity of heart’ or ‘transparency’. A person is truly chaste when he is honest, not corrupt.”

Meanwhile, according to the priest, poverty “must be understood, not only in the material aspect of ‘not having’ but in ‘detachment’, as seen in a heart that is not weighed down by greed but is free and generous in loving God and one’s neighbor.”

Lastly, Alcayaga explained obedience can be found in someone who “seeks to fulfill God’s will by following Jesus’ life and teachings, and not of someone who breaks the laws or formulates them only for his own advantage.”

Devotion with formation

Novena Masses at San Jose Church began on Wednesday, Jan. 17. This was preceded by a “Walk with Mary” – ‘Diana’ from San Jose Church to the five barangays of the parish – at 5:00 a.m. and followed by a “Walk with Jesus” on Friday, Jan. 19.

Each novena Mass will be concluded by a 10-minute “mini-Sadsad,” a religious dance in honor of the Santo Niño.

Aside from a special Mass, children of the barangay will attend a 30–minute catechism class, followed by parlor games and snacks.

In addition to the “food for the spirit,” thousands of devotees and street children will benefit from the free “Arroz Caldo ni Niño” given everyday until the Feast of Señor Santo Niño.

Seminars on child care and responsible parenthood will also be held for mothers and livelihood seminars for fathers.

The aged, sick, and abandoned also received special attention through a “Healing Mass and Lunch Date” on Jan. 23.

On Jan. 26, a fluvial procession will take place, followed by a solemn procession from the Iloilo Customs House to San Jose Parish Church.

The grand “Religious Sadsad,” each year gaining popularity as a growing number of devotees claimed that their prayers were answered after joining the activity, will take place on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 7:00 p.m. in front of San Jose Parish Church.

As the highest point of the Dinagyang festival, a concelebrated High Mass will be held at the San Jose Parish Church on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 6:00 a.m. CBCPNews