At ground level

A column about LIFE

Holy Week, a time of reflection and renewal

Holy Week always meant a time of reflection, a time of renewal, when I was a child growing up in Manila. Businesses closed, and so did the schools. Television and radio stations would broadcast religious shows. That’s the time I watched movies like “The Ten Commandments,” “The Passion of Christ,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “A Man for All Seasons.”

On Maundy Thursday, which marks the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, our family followed the tradition of Bisita Iglesia, visiting seven churches. I was always excited to do this. Maybe it was because when we were half way done visiting the churches, Dad would always stop by the popcorn and kropeck (shrimp crackers) stands outside the churches and buy us green and pink candy popcorn as a treat. Sometimes, on the way home, we would pass by a balut (duck egg) stand and take some home.

Or, maybe it was because each year, we would try to visit a church we had never been to. It was easy to find a new church in Manila. After all, they say there are over 600,000 churches and about 20 million chapels in the Philippines! In the new church we would kneel and recite three Our Fathers, three Hail Marys, three Glory Be’s, and then make three wishes. I don’t remember if my wishes ever came true, I just liked the tradition and have even passed it on to my children.

On Good Friday we prayed the rosary at 3 p.m. because historians believe Christ died at that time. On Black Saturday we stayed home and, later in the evening, we attended Easter Vigil and had a nice dinner after mass.

In the U.S., reflection time during Holy Week is observed in church. It seems renewal is observed by giving alms, or “giving up” something for Lent  – candy, chocolates, special food, alcohol, or not eating meat on Fridays. Outside the confines of the church, life goes on as usual. The big celebration for many with families is the Easter bunny and the Easter egg hunt. In some places, it’s a community-wide event.

I have attended many Easter egg hunts with my children. The Easter bunny would come to our house every year, too. For the longest time, my oldest daughter even swore she saw the Easter bunny cross the street in the wee hours of the morning! Some years, I would get so caught up in the festive side of Easter and would just observe Holy Week in a very minimal way.

This Easter I will once again cook lamb for my family, and we will have ham, too, and a variety of salads and pies. But, more than ever, this year, I want to continue my reflection, and hope to experience a sense of renewal.

A friend of mine posted this Lenten message on her Facebook page this week:

To those to whom I have done wrong, I ask for forgiveness.
To those I have helped, I wish I did more.
To those I neglected to help, I ask for understanding …
And to those who have helped me, I sincerely thank you.

Have a renewing and meaningful Holy Week(end), and a blessed Easter!

April 22, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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