Lent in the Philippines
By Gilbert Dadia
Holy Week has always been a much awaited event in the Philippine catholic calendar. The observance of Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It starts with 40 days of fasting where we imitate Jesus Christ’s fasting in the desert for 40 days while being tempted by Satan. Lent prepares Catholics through penance, reflection and fasting towards Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. While some go to the beaches of Boracay, Palawan, Batangas, Mindoro or La Union or to cool Baguio and Tagaytay or to faraway places to observe Holy Week in a festive manner, most go to churches to hold vigils and participate in the Visita Iglesia where people go to 7 different churches and pray and reflect on the Stations of the Cross reliving the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Palm Sunday commemorates Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem as He was welcomed by a huge crowd by waving and laying down palm leaves before Him in praise. This starts the Holy Week celebration; today we observe this by having coconut palms blessed by the priest during Palm Sunday mass. During Holy Monday gospel readings, Jesus is shown cleansing the temple of its shameful vendor practices saying it has no place in the house of His Father and cursed the crowd of their wrong beliefs. Holy Tuesday was when Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees regarding what he did in the temple and his Divinity and was the time where He preached the parables of the vineyard and the wedding banquet that depicts Him as the bridegroom. Holy Wednesday was when Judas Iscariot plotted to hand over Jesus to the Romans for thirty pieces of silver and that how he was to betray him with a kiss. It was also during this time that Mary, the sister of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead pours costly perfumed oil on Jesus’ feet and wipes it with her own hair in gratitude. Holy Thursday was the day when Christ’s ‘Last Supper’ was shared with his apostles; it was basically the first mass and establishment of the Holy Eucharist by Jesus Christ. Ordering the disciples who would be the first priests to “Do this in memory of Me” The Blessed Sacrament where the body and blood of Christ was instituted. It is during Holy Thursday that ‘The Agony in the Garden’ also transpired and as he was praying he was betrayed and arrested and brought to the house of the High Priest. Good Friday sees Jesus Christ before Pontius Pilate and Herod and sent back to Pontius Pilate again, who would condemn Christ to be scourged, paraded through the streets of Jerusalem carrying His cross and eventually crucified and finally dying at the cross at Mt. Calvary. Black Saturday sees Jesus’ body laying in the tomb but His soul among the dead. The Sabbath is a day of rest for the Jews and it is believed that this is what Christ did in death on Holy Saturday. Easter Sunday is the resurrection of Jesus Christ where He is raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God the Father in all triumph! He has fulfilled His Father’s wishes and delivered and saved His beloved people from sin.
No matter how one celebrates Holy Week is one’s own choice! God has given you the free will to do what is right and what is wrong. Go to church, read the bible, participate in the Visita Iglesia, pray or go to the beaches or tourist spots if you want. Just remember what Jesus Christ did and offered for your sins and salvation!