by Fr. Vic Kevin Ferrer
One Monday afternoon while I was driving to Cabanatuan City from San Jose, I passed by a group of women walking at the side of the road carrying candles, flowers, and an image of Mama Mary. It struck me. I was just out to run some errands and then there was Mama Mary, out of the blue reminding me of her maternal presence. It was a picture of mothers carrying their mother and my mother too.
It is October, the month of the Holy Rosary. Those women I saw are but a few of the countless others – men, women, and children- who are doing the traditional Block Rosary this month. For those of you who do not know what the Block Rosary is, basically it is a popular devotion wherein an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary is brought to a different home everyday and there the rosary is prayed. Usually done in a neighborhood or a barangay, the Block Rosary brings together neighbors, oftentimes women and children, to pray and on some occasions share some snacks of pancit and kakanin.
The Block Rosary is about Mama Mary visiting her children. For the two years I have been assigned as Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral of San Jose, I have witnessed how this popular devotion has touched the hearts of many and brought countless graces to the faithful. This was even more highlighted when our parish priest, Fr. Getty Ferrer, gave explicit instruction to bring Mama Mary to the poorest of the poor. Every time the small statue of the Blessed Mother is carried into the homes especially of the poor, there is this sense of a visitation. It reminds me of St. Elizabeth who exclaimed to the Virgin Mary who was her guest, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk. 1:43)
I have heard stories of healing and many answered prayers in the short time (usually overnight) that the small statue of Mama Mary stays in homes. There were mothers who finally got a good sleep; a husband who was healed of his unexplainable shoulder pain; even one person who won the local lottery! A few times there were even stories of conversion and reconciliation. There was one leader who shared that during the Block Rosary she had no choice but to enter the house of the person she had not been on good terms with. After praying the rosary together both had the courage to say sorry and fix their broken relationship.
Reflecting on what I saw back on the road, I realized how that quick and humble sight of women doing the Block Rosary evoked something grand in me—God’s love through Mama Mary who visits her children to bring them nearer to Jesus. In their love and devotion to the Blessed Mother, those participating in the Block Rosary are actually evangelizing in the homes they visited and the many streets and byways they walked. I believe even the bystanders and passersby, who caught sight of Mama Mary being carried around, will be touched by her and reminded of God’s love somehow.
Let us hope and pray that this beautiful tradition of the Block Rosary will be handed on and continued by more generations to come.