Today marks the holiest week in Christianity, showing us the greatest manifestation of love in the world.
I grew up and have been exposed to professing my faith the most concrete way, the likes of which included hearing Mass every Sunday (there was a point in my life I even went to Mass daily) and getting myself involved with parish activities — as lector and commentator, as an audio-visual operator (props to Fr. Omer Prieto for introducing us to the wonders of great music and Powerpoint slides to accompany the celebration of the Mass.. long before parishes had LCD projectors, meron na kami nun sa parish, o diba?), as youth ministry member and servant-leader.
My life as a Catholic in the Philippines was a colorful and rich journey. There were episodes in my life when I would shun away from practices and rituals, just because I felt it was too superficial. But my Mom’s determination to keep me in that kind of path served a purpose.
Years later, all the trappings of being a Filipino Catholic are removed and stripped away, especially when we decided to come to Australia. I didn’t realise I would miss seeing palaspas this much on a Palm Sunday, or witnessing Washing of the Feet on a Maundy Thursday and looking forward to Visita Iglesia, attending countless processions for hours on end especially on a Good Friday, getting excited for Easter Vigil because of a lot of creative symbolisms employed and the 1st time Handel’s ‘Alleluia’ would be played, and knowing that the next day was a happy day since hey, the Lord has risen!
When I was a small kid, I would be one of the angels dressed in white for Easter. I even had the opportunity to take off Mother Mary’s black veil during Easter Salubong, while I was strapped in a harness. That vivid memory of taking off the veil in a sea of people, and my act of taking the veil off served as cue for fireworks to set off. Man, I felt like a legit angel!
It was this direct exposure to my faith that I craved for more in terms of enriching it. I then realised, those outward signs served to fuel my desire in this spiritual journey. It is when those trappings are removed that I begin to wonder… what else could there be?
When I start not seeing palaspas being waved like crazy while it’s blessed, I turn to the message of today’s irony that the same people who welcomed Jesus with palm leaves upon His entry to Jerusalem might or could have been the same people who betrayed and led him to his death on the cross (which will bring me to my next blog post about betrayal as takeaway message for today).
I miss going through the holiest week of the Lenten Season with fellow youth servants and parishioners. I know that for the majority, especially for working people, Holy Week means taking a long week off. It is my prayer that, despite the travel and family reunions, all of us may not lose sight of this week’s true meaning.
We are given this week to pause and reflect. Let’s make the most out of it.
I also pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in Egypt, where bombings in Christian Churches today have taken place. A lot of us are blessed to practice our faith in a safe place, unfortunately not everyone is afforded this privilege 🙁
Photo Credit: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-palm-sunday-700775