Praised be Jesus and Mary!
Every first Sunday of May, our barangay (smaller town unit) celebrates the feast of Sta. Monica of Hippo. The real feast day is May 4. This year, it was just perfect that the first Sunday is May 4. If that is not the case, the feast will be moved to the first Sunday so that more people can join the celebration.
You might be wondering how we celebrate the feast. It is fun!
(pic outside with Rachel. Inet!!!)
Last Saturday, we had a general cleaning at home. And then, Mom prepared several dishes for feasting. In one single day, she was able to cook Menudo, Caldareta, Atchara and Spaghetti. She also marinated the whole chickens to be roasted the following day. She also prepared ingredients for the Chopseuy, and Prawn which will be cooked the following morning. Tita Edna made some Macaroni Salad and Fruit Salad. Tita Flor made several llaneras of Leche Flan. Dad bought Suman and Sherbet. That’s a lot of food, right? It’s a feast in honor of St. Monica!
On Saturday afternoon, three (or four?) sets of brass bands paraded along the streets. Young ladies wearing colorful uniforms and boots led the parade as majorettes. Very cute~!! Ah! I saw a photo of my mom during her younger days when she joined as majorette and she was very cute and pretty, too…
(one of the brass bands assembling in front of the chapel with the majorettes.)
Later at night, there was a procession of the images of Sta. Monica and his son, San Agustin. Every year, San Agustin’s image will be in front of Sta. Monica’s image during procession. Even in our barangay chapel, Sta. Monica’s image is always with San Agustin. I don’t know why, but I guess its because of their mother-son relationship. The parish priest, lay ministers, altar servers, ushers lead the procession. The altar boy carrying the cross walks in front. Another altar boy rings the bell continuously and I can guess that it’s a very tough duty to serve. (Kakangawit ‘yon.) Townsmen walks behind the images with lighted candles. And, older ladies (grandmas) wearing saya (traditional dress) waltz behind the procession as an offering to Sta. Monica.
Sunday morning is for the last minute cooking. Around lunch time, guests (family, friends, and colleagues) from neighboring towns arrived one by one. The good food, the fun conversation, the games, and the reunion between family and friends were very happy memories to remember.
(Bisita Ni Sta. Monica/Chapel of St. Monica with colorful alakos)
(inside the chapel)
There was sunset Mass in the chapel at 5pm. The chapel was decorated especially for the occasion. There were flowers everywhere! The chapel was very beautiful! The Gospel was about the two disciples who walked in Emmaus. I want to share about the homily and my reflection on the Gospel in my next post. After the Mass, we went home for dinner and continued the feast! Some of us played board games until 3am!!
It was very tiring, but it was FUN! More than these celebrations, it is good to remember the life of the saint behind all these celebration.
St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, lived a very prayerful life. She was married to a violent tempered pagan. She had three children – Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. Through her prayers, her husband and mother were converted and baptized. While Navigius and Perpetua entered religious life, St. Augustine was more difficult. She prayed for him for 17 years and even begged for a priest to help her pray. One priest consoled her and said, “It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.” This thought and a vision she had received strengthened her. In year 387, St. Augustine was converted and baptized. Later that year, St. Monica died.
We can see in her life the kind of hope that we receive from God. We see the power of persistent prayer. Her prayerful life, pious acts and life are inspirations to continue calling to the Lord. St. Monica is patron of wives and abused victims. In some sources, I also found that she is patron of difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery and unfaithfulness, victims of (verbal) abuse, and conversion of relatives.
Happy feast day!
Kristine G. Veneracion
Sources about the life of St. Monica: