How do you celebrate Holy Week in your neck of the woods?
Here in the Philippines, Holy Week is a pretty big deal. Schedules stop, penance lined up, vacations filed, tickets purchased, churches visited and a marathon of “religious films” gets shown on television.
In the old days, time stops for all kinds of penance and its up to you to pick your poison: Visita Iglesia (visit to the 7 churches), participate in Pabasa (like our family), while some go on a more extreme route like participate in self flagellation, crucifixion while others participate in Cenaculo. The Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday where Catholics commemorate the entrance of Christ to Jerusalem, leading to work stoppage on Maundy Thursday, reaching its highlight on Friday, usually at 3pm which is the time of death of Christ. Holy Week finally ends on the early hours of Easter Sunday with the mass and the “salubong” or the meeting of the Virgin Mary and the Risen Christ.
As we get older, the old traditions started giving way to modern habits. People book vacations, spending their Holy Week at beaches and resorts as means of “self reflection.” My siblings and I had the gall of doing this a few years ago. We booked a beach get away right smack during the Holy Week which meant we missed the yearly “Pabasa.” Our mother didn’t speak to us for days for this transgression.
The family Pabasa tradition has been going on for more than 50 years now, right to the time of my mom’s grand father who started the tradition. I only wish someone from my generation will be willing to take on the Pabasa after my mom. I am not sure if I will be up to the task.
With the changing of times, sometimes I wish that the outlook of Filipinos when it comes to Holy Week will not change. More than the pomp, the pageantry, the activities that reek of tradition — it’s the deep faith of this nation that is worth celebrating.