March 16, 2008

Preparing for Holy Week

(Holy Week 2007: A caroza bearing the arrested Christ, as St. Peter denies him. To his right is the Virgin Mary. I took this photo during the Good Friday procession in San Pablo, Laguna last year. More of my Holy Week 2007 photos at Flickr)

FR. VIC, our priest for the 6 pm Mass at the chapel in the village where I live, made some interesting points during his sermon tonight, which I wanted to share with you. I hope I can deliver his thoughts as well as he said them.

WHY is the week called Mahal na Araw? In English it's called Holy Week so shouldn't it be "Banal na Linggo" in Filipino? He said the week is all about Christ's love (in Filipino, pagmamahal) for us, which made it possible for Him to suffer and die for our sins. Thus, Mahal na Araw.

The origin of the Visita Iglesia which is done every Maundy Thursday, he noted, was perhaps a way to keep churchgoers from filling up the Church to the brim as they keep vigil for an hour before the Blessed Sacrament, which represents the body and blood of Christ. As you know, it is only on Maundy Thursday that the Blessed Sacrament is exposed to the public. So the Visita Iglesia helps break down the hour into 10-minute portions so believers go to about seven (7) Churches to see the Blessed Sacrament, this way preventing an overflow of churgoers.

He also said that because the Blessed Sacrament is exposed just one day in a year, we should venerate it. It isn't the time to do the Way of the Cross, which should be done, instead, on Good Friday, because this is the day when the Christ Lord died on the cross.

Because the Visita Iglesia has become somewhat like a tourist attraction already ("Panay pa-picture sa harap ng simbahan kasi maganda", says Fr. Vic), it was better, he said, to just spend an hour in one Church praying and keeping vigil, meditating on the Blessed Sacrament.

The most important holiday, he said, should really be Easter Sunday, instead of Christmas, which is "the beginning" of Christ's life. Easter Sunday, however, is the day when Christ resurrected from the dead. This is the "culmination", he noted, of Christ's life and works here on earth. So actually, we should place more importance on it than on Christmas.

What do you think, guys?

A most blessed Holy Week to all!

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