MANILA, APRIL 5, 2007 (STAR) ROSES & THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces - The Philippines is the only predominantly Christian nation in Asia, the outcome of many years of Spanish occupation of the islands. Christianity in our country began in 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan came to our shores and planted the Cross, the symbol of Christianity. Since then, the natives have practiced different religious beliefs inherently Christian in origin.

The observance of Holy Week, for example, has been a time-honored practice for Filipinos.

Today being Holy Thursday, it is the anniversary of the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Sacrament of the Priesthood. But since we were young, we have always associated Holy Thursday with only two things — visita iglesia and the washing of the feet. During visita iglesia, we visit seven churches and that is because of the popular belief that the number seven stood for the seven sacraments — baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, orders, matrimony and anointing of the sick. Others maintained it represented the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that everyone received during baptism and retained by all who were in a state of grace. They were wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. Whatever the number represented, the custom was to visit seven churches. Two churches were, for us, a must. These are the Binondo and Santa Cruz Churches. Binondo, because the names of our old ancestors were preserved in the slabs marking the places where they were buried in the church floor. Santa Cruz, because it was the church where we were baptized. To this day, when I hear the Santa Cruz church bells ring, we cannot help but be reminded that they are the same bells that rang when we were baptized.

For us however, the most touching ritual in all of Holy Week is the washing of the feet. Feet washing is a religious rite observed as an ordinance by several Christian denominations. Christian denominations that observe feet washing do so on the basis of what they believe is the example and command of Jesus as stated in John 13:1-15; wherein, before the Last Supper, He washed the feet of His 12 apostles.

As Jesus said, "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."

Indeed. As what Jesus has shown by washing the feet of His disciples, nothing can be authentically holy without humility. And that is what the washing of the feet truly captures — humility.

Priests ask faithful to reflect on love, acceptance, renewal The Freeman 04/05/2007

Love, acceptance and renewal are the most important values that ought to be reflected upon for Maundy Thursday, Holy Friday and Black Saturday, according to the officials of the Catholic Church.

The term "maundy", from the Latin word mandatum was associated to the Thursday of the Holy Week, since it was on Thursday night that Jesus Christ gave the "newest" and "most updated" commandment to his disciples.

Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said the new commandment - to love one another - was not really new.

Lagdameo said love referred to in this Commandment is both "agape" or self giving, self sacrificing love, and "eros" or possessive and needing love.

He said the love we experience from God is undoubtedly agape but at the same time God's love for us is eros like the love of a dutiful wife toward an adulterous husband or the love of a husband despite the wife turning unfaithful.

Fr. Jose Tajanlangit, of the Sta. Teresa de Avila Parish in Talisay City said Maundy Thursday is regarded very significant by the Jews since this is the time they hold the Passover Meal in commemoration of their bondage from Egypt to the Promise Land.

It also commemorates the holding of the First Mass, the institution of the Eucharist or Communion.

Tajanlangit said the day is also significant because it is during this time that Jesus prayed in Gethsemane while the disciples were asleep.

He said this was the peak of Christ's suffering as he was torn between being a God and being a man.

"Christ as real God and real man, at that time He was really very afraid manifested by the sweating of blood," he said, adding that the rapture of one's veins is a significant manifestation that a person is afraid. However, Tajanlangit said that Christ's fear disappeared when he said "Thy will be done."

When Jesus was beaten and then nailed to the cross, Tajanlangit said, He was no longer suffering because He had accepted His fate. This is one thing, Tajanlangit said, is something that that surviving Christians can associate with, when there is acceptance, everything is already very easy. - Ferliza C. Contratista/QSB

Penitents are nailed to crosses in Pampanga
in this annual re-enactment of the
Passion of Christ.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved