THE PRIOR of Santo Domingo Convent on Thursday challenged devotees of La Naval de Manila to be living witnesses of their faith by reaching out to the poor and marginalized.

“[Sa pagtulong natin] makikita kung tunay ang ating debosyon sa ating Mahal na Ina. Sana’y kalakip sa panalangin hindi lamang ang ating ugnayan sa Diyos kundi ang ugnayan sa ating kapwa,” Fr. Rolando Mactal, O.P. said during the enthronement Mass last Sept. 28 that kicked off the annual La Naval festivities at Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.

Santo Domingo Convent Prior Fr. Rolando Mactal, O.P. leads the Eucharistic celebration during the enthronement rites of the Our Lady of La Naval de Manila. Photo by Michael Angelo M. Reyes

Mactal said devotees must extend their hands to the poor just as Mary was also marginalized in Israel. Her song Magnificat is not only a song of thanksgiving but also a song of the poor, he said.

“Martyrdom means witnessing. We are being reminded to be living witnesses of the faith which we profess and the devotion to the Blessed Mother. That is what we are called for – to be living witnesses of the Good News to others,” Mactal said.

Amid wars, extrajudicial killings, fraternity hazing and other “gruesome” realities, Mactal reminded the faithful of how the miraculous image of Our Lady of La Naval de Manila could bring harmony and order in society.

A concert after the Mass, featured the UST Singers, Tiples de Santo Domingo, Dominican Student-Brothers, UST Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble, UST Coro Tomasino and UST Symphony Orchestra.

Thomasian and Dominican singers and musicians perform during the concert which followed the Eucharistic celebration. Photo by Michael Angelo M. Reyes

“Order and harmony are possible realities. Harmony through this music inspires us to establish the same harmony and order in other aspects of the human life. Together we can make things happen,” Mactal said.

The image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, also known as Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de La Naval de Manila, is the oldest ivory carving in the country. In 1907, it became the first local Marian image to be canonically crowned.

The feast of La Naval honors the Marian intercession linked to the 1646 victory of Filipino and Spanish troops over Protestant Dutch invaders.

With only two trading galleons to fight 15 Dutch warships, the Filipino and Spanish forces asked help from Our Lady of the Holy Rosary to win the battle, vowing to walk barefoot in procession to the old Santo Domingo Shrine in Intramuros.

The nine-day novena began today, Sept. 29 and will culminate in a grand procession on Sunday, Oct. 8.

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