Friday, April 10, 2009

Holy Week Cogitations

This got me thinking days ago with a chatmate giggling seeing a “black X-mark” on my forehead when I came on video chat. She was so amused and interrogated me what it was and why it was. Of course, I struggled… to give a detailed response as to the “why”, that is! But I am not ashamed! I can at any time roam around town and interview every Filipino about the “X-mark” or even the whole of holy week itself, and I am sure, too many will struggle for specifics too. That said, I am therefore “normal” whahehehe!

But let me qualify things as I am no religious and have not been to religious schools my entire student life. Whatever I say here will be mere descriptions of how I perceive things to be, and how I observe other people practicing the various ceremonies and activities.

Here I go, correct me if I’m wrong, and let me start with Lent in general:

In the Philippines, this season is congruous with what it is for western European Catholics. When I went around asking about it, I realized it is described in many different ways by Filipinos like “the season of Lent”, “the advent of Lent”, “the Lenten Season”, “a forty day religious observance”, “the prelude to holy week”, “the pasyon”, “the passion of Christ”, “a time to remember the sacrifices of Jesus”, “cuaresma” and so many other descriptions. This early, let me tell you that in most of those cases, when I started delving for specifics and reasons and rationales, I would be dismissed with “why are you asking?”, “don’t you already know that?” or even a stern “stop asking, just practice what we are told to do”! Whew! And I personally know, religion is not an easy or short topic in the Philippines. Something like if you asked, you are tagged as questioning the faith, therefore acting badly or against the church (Catholic Church, I mean).

Anyway, I learned that it starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday but excluding all Sundays in the count! Hmm, did you know that exclusion? Aminin! Like you can translate that to be February 25, 2009 was Ash Wednesday because April 12 is Easter Sunday. Now I can’t remember when I had my forehead marked! It should have been February 25, 2009. Hey Arisu, did we skype on that date? As far as I know though, at least with the people I live with, work with and go out with, the most significant dates in these 40 days are Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And the most significant week is the last – which is “Holy Week” or “Semana Santa”.

I quickly re-learned from Wiki that…

Lent, in most Christian denominations, is the forty-day liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where, according to the Bible, he endured temptation by Satan. Different churches calculate the forty days differently. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial—for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”.

I quoted that entire paragraph and my eyes are growing wide! Let me go back to all those underlined phrases and words:

Forty-day… fasting and prayer BEFORE Easter.
Wheh?! like Ramadan?! I never experienced nor heard other people around me do something or even mention anything like it, other than during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. So its not 40 days, instead its looking nearer to just 48 hours! And I cant say I am living a life away from today’s Pilippine civilization since I interact with so many people everyday and I am a roamer, remember?! Thus, if I might call it a sampling of the population, I have observed quite a majority representation of us Christians. We do not fast that long as Muslims do during their Ramadan and we do not even pray, save for the few who we call religious – where most of the time we think of them as some kind of extremists. Hep hep hep! I am not open for debate here, aminin na lang yan, wag na umalma! Just look around you and observe as I did!

I even suspected that whole paragraph I quoted was not from a Catholic vantage, but it is!

Prayer. I already said that above.

Penitence, also as above – only on the 48-hour break of HuebeSanto and ByerneSanto, not forty days.

Almsgiving, never! Yes, I will stand on this – even if others may claim they do it daily or at other times of the year. Hello folks, I was not born yesterday. That quoted word is not supposed to mean only when you feel like. It is supposed to mean as part of the Christian celebration of Lent! If I may take a comparison, I think it should be at least like the Buddhist ceremony in Thailand where the monks go out and people are also out eager and waiting with what they want to give. There is a date or date-range here and in our case, it says 40 days of lent!

Self-denial, for majority of people I know, especially in the metropolis, NEVER! We even await the two-day break so we could hie off for this much-awaited 4-day vacation, right? Take myself as an example, am writing these thoughts now at a beach that is almost every foot occupied by vacationers and I do not have to ask if they were Catholics or not. And if I may recall my childhood, at this very time, I would have been dressed-to-kill and inside a church with the whole family listening to the Siete Palabras readings and explanations. Now you should know what day and time it is as I write this, from that last sentence I said. Do you?!

I am not declaring these observations to preach that we should do this or that. Not even to remind myself that I should change my nakagawian. I am just thinking aloud… we may not have been conscious about it, but it looks like we are forgetting the real meaning of why even governments have to declare Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as non-working holidays hehe! Have you observed that in the past even airlines, shipping and bus companies would cease operating during these days? Hala, that makes us all answerable for infraction against a government mandate! Why? Because they have declared these two days holiday for us the people to pray and reflect, but we are not doing it!

So we should be back at work? Ayoko nga!

But this got me thinking… maybe next Holy Week I should try doing something else? Hmm, a voice behind me is suggesting, yes a voice – a husky voice from a chicken-barbecue smelling mouth, with left hand holding a bottle of SanMigLight, right hand holding yosi and the whole body dripping in sea-water… that voice just said “okay yan ah, sige pare, next year sagada tayo”!

Uh eh… what can I say… Happy Good Friday? Is there such a greeting? Well, who knows, that may become an acceptable expression soon! Things are just a changing fast. Do you like it? Am not sure I do, am not sure I don’t! Honestly!

I just live in the moment...

1 comment :

  1. So you are saying, most of us are lately being more unChristian or unCatholics, right? Ang lalim nito, naguluhan ako! Therefore nice to think about. Na-guilty na tuloy ako...