Thursday, April 14, 2011

Holy Week then and now... When will we learn?

During Holy Week the Church celebrates the mysteries of salvation accomplished by Christ in the last days of his life on earth, beginning with his messianic entrance into Jerusalem.
The Lenten season lasts until the Thursday of this week. The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, is continued through Good Friday with the celebration of the passion of the Lord and Holy Saturday, reaches its summit in the Easter Vigil, and concludes with Vespers of Easter Sunday.

Holy Week is just around the corner! With the heat of the scorching sun these past few days, I'm pretty quite sure that we're almost near the end of the Lenten Season, towards the joyfulness of  Easter. Everyone is up preparing to go home for the Holy Weekend, or visit some pilgrimage areas in the Metro.

As for me, I always say to people who may look for me: kung wala ako sa bahay, nasa parokya ako. Now, because of the start of summer classes, I would like to say to people who may look for me on the Holy Week: Kung wala ako sa bahay, nasa CMU ako. Bakit? May klase ba? Kidding aside, this is my 20th Holy Week from 1990 (my birth year) and this time, it will be way different. To give way to scholastic activities that would make up most of my summer, I chose to give up some obligations in the Parish community. Nevertheless, I would make myself visible on the Triduum. This makes this Holy Week different from the others.

That's the difference of the Holy Week for me. But when we look at this difference in general, we can see a very big comparison. Though the rites were slightly unchanged (due to Vatican II), the ambiance that we can see and feel had changed in the past ten or twenty years.

Senakulo, courtesy of Google Image Search
Our Traditions of Pabasa, Pagpupuryos, Paggapang, and Senakulo are still there. People are still participating in all our activities of popular piety (add-up to the list the Visita Iglesia and Stations of the Cross.), but not like before. Younger people are chanting the Pasyon but not to the traditional tone; instead, they are already mixing it with rock, jazz and fliptop. Men are crawling through the streets and their companions abusingly whip their butts with hoses from fire trucks, yung tipong winawalanghiya yung penitensya. And who could forget the cycle of those who whip themselves around the streets: Puryos-luhod-inom! After their penitential act, they would treat themselves with alcohol, putting their act to waste. In short, Holy Week for them is a show-off period, a time for (some of) them to prove to the people that they can do something for their "faith."

We also look to the moves of people. While some are still having their pilgrimages to the top spots every Paschal Triduum (The grottos in Novaliches and Marilao, Mt. Banahaw in Quezon, The Church of the Nazarene in Quiapo, and the seven churches in our list every Holy Thursday practice of Visita Iglesia), others are having a 'good time' at the beach or the resort, like nothing's happening around them.

Alta of Repose, courtesy of Google Image Search
Also, when people attend the processions of Holy Wednesday and Good Friday, their intentions are not to reflect on Jesus' life, depicted by the different Pasos and Karossas, but to take the flowers after the procession, believing that it possesses powers. weeehhh...

Before, TV Networks air at the evening of the triduum, or else they don't air at all (except for Channel 9 which had been airing whole day for three days). Now, Channels 2, 5, 7 and 23 (Perhaps NewsTV Ch. 11 will also go on-air next week) goes on-air from morning down to midnight. Their programs range from religious programs (Washing of the Feet and Seven last Words) to public service programs (just a replay) to Barbie and love movies (include Jose Rizal in Channel 7 and Moses in Channel 23 for that.) and recently, even American Idol (Channel 7 airs the results night, since Channel 11 is off-the-air.). Well, it may seem good since TV networks now know that most of us (especially the non-catholics) go bored every Holy Week and their airing of programs could be of help to them, but we look deeper and realize that instead of reflection and prayer, people nowadays choose instead to sit down and watch TV.

And when it's time for Salubong, people come to the place of the encounter. They applaud when the two images of Christ and Mary meet, and applaud even greater when the angel takes away the veil from the Virgin's image. And what comes after that? A celebration of the Mass. Swerte mo na lang kung lahat ng nanood ng Salubong ay magsisimba, because that's not what happens every time. After the encounter, a good number of people go home, saying to themselves, Tapos na naman ang salubong eh!

Common observances, no? It makes us laugh upon seeing one, but it's not worth laughing at all.

What's the bottomline?

A lot of us, Christians and Catholics as we may be, observe the Holy Week, alright, but it is just superficial. We ask ourselves, where is the TRUE spirit of lent nowadays? Instead of the real penitential character, the modern world observe this season, and the Holy Week in particular, with its modern ways, taking us astray from the real thing.

Christians! When will we learn? 

Holy Week is not about us, our pleasures, or our fanaticisms. This week of weeks is much focused on the salvation done by the man hung on the cross for us. Throughout the course of time, we remember how Jesus loved us up until death. We commemorate it in a number of ways, but it gradually receded throughout the years. Bad thing is that nowadays people do not recognize the real essence of the Lenten and Easter Seasons and just proceed with their life like nothing's happening.

But what is the miracle behind everything? It is the reality that year after year, Holy Week after Holy Week, we always call to mind that great man who never refused to face the fate of death, so that he could be risen and lead us to our redemption. It's much fitting if we take this opportunity, with greater strides, to proclaim his love to our loved ones and neighbors. Besides, we would never celebrate this Holy Week - no, Holy Week could not have existed - if not because of Jesus who died for us. It is his memory we recall; it is his legacy we believe on. This is the miracle.

It's Holy Week! We are called to PAUSE from our usual and common chores, REFLECT on the real meaning of the passion of Jesus, and ACT on what we have reflected and apply it in our daily life. Year after year, every scenario may be different, we may observe some unfamiliar situations, but one thing could always remain: JESUS CHRIST, the reason why we celebrate the Holy Week.

La Pieta, Holy Week 2009 at SCP
Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions.
(Benedictus PP XVI, Lenten Message 2011)

1 comment:

  1. FOLLOW-UP!!!
    Just heard from the news that our DOH is warning those who would perform penitential acts on Holy Week to take necessary precautions. The heat is very different nowadays, they may have heat stroke because of this.

    Well, Jesus did it once and that is enough!