16 March 2017
CIRCULAR LETTER ON THE SANTACRUZAN & FLORES DE MAYO PRACTICES IN THE DIOCESE OF BORONGAN
Beloved people of God:
The life of the faithful is enriched, aside from the Church’s Liturgy, by the various forms of pious exercises, devotions, popular piety, and popular religiosity which indubitably sustain, nourish, and help transmit the Faith to future generations in every time and place.
Because of their intimate and inextricable connection to the Liturgy, “the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed…and the fount from which all her power flows” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10), great care should be taken by pastors so that their contributions to the life of faith in Christ lived in the Church will not be overlooked and so that they will be fully and truly in harmony with authentic and mature evangelization.
With regards to the current practice of Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo, the following observations can be made:
- There is an on-going and pervasive confusion about the Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo so that their chronological import and theological significance for the faithful is not properly understood.
- It is to be emphasized that the Santacruzan is a festival in commemoration of the finding of the True Cross by St Helena and is, thus, properly a Christological celebration, not a Marian one.
- The Flores de Mayo is a feast in honor of the Virgin Mary, the Queen of all the Beautiful Flowers of May and is, thus, properly a Mariological celebration.
- The practice of conjoining them in a single celebration and procession is, therefore, historically and theologically incongruous and creates confusion among the faithful; aside from depriving them of the opportunity to better appreciate the unique significance of each celebration
It is, therefore, necessary to devise concrete pastoral initiatives to remedy this predicament:
- The Santacruzan is to be fittingly celebrated on its proper feast day- May 3, or on other favorable dates during the first half of May.
- The Flores de Mayo celebration, minus the details and trappings associated with the Santacruzan, is to be held at the second half or at the end of May.
To realize this, extensive catechesis is to be devised by the parish pastors at their own discretion. In case the implementation of the said pastoral interventions this year will produce great inconvenience to the faithful, it can be postponed until next year’s celebration.
“(P)opular piety can neither be ignored nor treated with indifference or disrespect because of its richness and because in itself it represents an religious attitude in relation to God. However, it has to be continually evangelized, so that the faith which it expresses may become more mature and authentic” (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus, (4.12.1988), 18.)
With my pastoral affection and paternal blessing,
+MOST REV. CRISPIN B. VARQUEZ, DD
Bishop of Borongan
REV. FR. NEIL G. TENEFRANCIA