Monday, April 30, 2012

Ergo Propter Hoc

I suppose all liturgy, in essence, is wastefulness. All piety, too, is essentially bombast built on something that is ultimately impossible to prove empirically; and hence, all faith, it would seem, is blind, if only because it would have the believer-- the investor-- believe, that such is truly such, that such is truly there, that there never was, or never will be, a time, a place, in which such was not, or shall not be. Paradoxically, however, this extravagance is oftentimes needed for cult to sustain its mystique, its power over people; and thus, I seem to find piety itself as the keystone upon which all belief is predicated. Admittedly this kind of reasoning is circular, and does not, in the end, establish beyond reasonable doubt, that faith is true. But there is something about these extravagant acts of piety, something almost tangible, that makes one want to believe in it so badly. The desire to see and know that grace is true-- that it can be seen and touched and marred by human senses-- is so strong, precisely because it is so weak in the first place. Perhaps this is why all rite and ritual is ultimately indispensable to religion: it provides the closest thing to "solid" belief that there is. We believe that the wafer ensconced in tis golden prison is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ Himself; but why? Because of the flowers, the canopies, the jewelled crosses and magnificent statues and rich vestments and fiery music, the milling mass of hundreds of thousands following suit, because we see it treated as such.

Pueblo amante de Maria

This is a beautiful eight minute video showcasing the devotion to Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia (Our Lady of Penafrancia) in the province of Bicol. The procession in honor of Our Lady, held annually on September, is one of the most well-attended in the country, drawing a crowd of millions to the province. Incidentally, Bicol remains one of the most staunchly Catholic provinces in the entire country, with around 97% to 98% of its population being baptized members of the Roman Catholic Church; it, too, has had a long history of men and women entering the priesthood or the various religious orders which dot the country. It is a great pity that my long-planned Bicol vacation did not materialize-- I would have loved to visit the Basilica where Our Lady is enshrined, and there pay my respects to her.