Have you ever seen a town practically shut down for a religious festival? The village I live in just had their yearly festival for their patron saint, Our Lady of Relief. The town was full of people lining the streets to see the parade of saints. In front of each saint was a group of children or adults dressed like the saint's statue that would follow. For example, in front of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima would be little girls dressed to look like the statue.
would be little girls dressed to look like the statue.
The Portuguese take their festas seriously, as you can see. The road that is blocked off is one of the main connecting roads between Barcelos and Esposende. It is the equivalent of a state route. The children in the procession were at youngest 2-3 years old. It is sad to see the dedication given to such festas and know that they are starting to use more and more women in this parocial because not enough men attend church regularly. It is heart rending to also see the devotion given to ordinary people and carved blocks of wood and not to where it rightfully belongs, Jesus Christ. The Portuguese remind me of the Athenians who worshiped so many gods and dared not offend even one that they had an altar to the Unknown God. "Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." Acts 17: 16 It is when we are faced with this display that we are reminded of why we are here in Portugal. As Paul said in Acts 17:23 "For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you." These festas are repeated through out Portugal several times a year. My prayer is this that we might "be all things to all men that we might by all means save some." We have been placed in this village for a reason. It is our hope and goal that we might be able to touch these peoples lives with the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.