Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cuaresma: Maundy Thursday/Good Friday

Maundy Thursday 

The Chrism Mass
- Every Maundy Thursday, priests of each diocese convene and attend the chrism mass to renew their vows. The mass is usually celebrated by the bishop or archbishop of their respective ecclesiastical province in the see or main cathedral of the diocese. Celebrated on the morning of maundy Thursday so as to not conflict with the masses of the evening, it commemorates the last supper wherein the apostles were instituted and introduced into the sacrament of the holy eucharist.

The mass is so-called as such due to the fact that the chrism oil, which the priests use for various functions, are blessed on that day and are distributed to the priests of each parish. Generally, the priests are accompanied by the loyal parish-goers... carrying with them banners and streamers that can equal any fiesta of the country. In some places, they even rejoice at the end of the mass, walking and dancing to the beat of drums as they go back to their parish churches.

The chrism mass of the archdiocese, Luis Antonio Gokim Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Manila and Primate of the Philippines, was attended by a large crowd that filled not only the church, but also the adjoining covered court of the parochial school nearby.

Pabása ng Pasyón ("Reading of the Passion"), known simply as Pabása (literally "reading", but is specifically a "sponsored reading-and-chanting") is a Holy Week practice in the Philippines that involves chanting of the narrative of the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Readers are usually groups of individuals taking turns in chanting verses from the book known as the Pasyon (lit., "Passion"). The modern-day Pabasa may be chanted a capella or with the accompaniment of musical instruments such as the guitar or accordion, or by a rondalla ensemble.

There are two common styles of chanting, one of which is the alternate singing of two persons or two groups of people. The second method has each chanter or group of chanters taking turns in singing the stanzas. The Pabasa is normally performed in front of either a makeshift altar or a permanent one located at the neighbourhood chapel (visita), town plazas, churchyards, or at the home of the ritual's sponsor.

The practitioners of the verse chanting participate in the ritual to show their devotion to the Catholic faith during the Holy Week season. According to Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, the media director of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the pabasa is a form of religious meditation, expression and profession of faith, and communal activity.

Before evolving into the contemporary version of the reading and chanting ritual in the Philippines during the Lenten season, the early form of the pabasa was introduced to the various indigenous people of the Philippine islands by Spanish friars. The Spaniards brought Catholicism to the Philippines. Gradually, over the period of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines (1521–1898), the ancient Filipinos adapted the religious chanting introduced by the Spanish priests and incorporated it to their own custom of singing epics during native celebrations. The vocal singing style has in many ways, preserved the pre-Hispanic singing techniques of the main groups of the country, like the Tagalog, Ilocano and Visayan groups.

Visita Iglesia - The practice of going to seven to fourteen churches to commemorate and meditate on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Churches are usually filled by Thursday night and the day after as the faithful go through the various stations of the church. The number was associated to a lot of things that involved Christ, His passion and ministry and is rooted in a tradition of making pilgrimages similar to that of the pilgrims of Rome and Jerusalem and that of the route taken by the Via Crucis.

The practice of visiting seven churches is ultimately rooted in visiting the seven churches of Rome which was initiated by Pope Boniface VIII. There are no set of prayers given by the Church except to pray for the intentions of the Pope and recite the Our Father, Hail Mary and Gloria Patri. People have instead opted to pray the Stations of the Cross, the recitation of which is liturgically proper to Good Friday.

Some devout people carry a cross to and from different churches, while others consider the custom an opportunity for sightseeing. An offering is usually made at each church and to the poor as a form of almsgiving. To accommodate the faithful, many Catholic churches during Holy Week remain open until midnight. Similarly, Visita Iglesia Online by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is among several such sites that afford Overseas Filipinos and the infirm the chance to participate in the tradition as well as hear recordings of the Pasyón.

The Blessed Sacrament is usually exposed to the faithful in a vigil of prayer and meditation. The faithful usually take an hour or two to pray in front of the holy host, which is placed on an ornate altar of repose. Before, the tradition was to pray before the host in one church. Eventually, as tradition says, the number increased and multiplied into the seven churches of the Visita Iglesia with the growing number of churches and chapels in Intramuros, the former capital of the Philippines.

Good Friday

Self-flagellation is a practice frowned upon by the leaders of the catholic church and yet is one of the most practiced traditions in the country. In this picture a man whips his back, wounded by blades beforehand. A possible outcrop of the passionate flagellants of Spain and the Latin Americas, the extremely faithful carry crosses on their backs, have themselves flogged (in some cases they make other people whip them) with glass or metal whips, wear thorns upon their heads and have themselves crucified.

The practice is widely known to the public, even being reported and documented by world-renowned channels such as National Geographic. Some of them imitate the passion of Jesus to atone for their sins, other do it as a sign of thanksgiving to God. This practice, common in outlying provinces of Luzon, has moved in to the city lands of Manila.

TV stations in the country usually initiate a sign-off during the triad of the Holy Week, the climax of the celebrations, a tradition of past years when people cannot rejoice yet during these days and must be quiet. They either do this or show religious-themed films and shows. In most places people are still reprimanded if  they play loud music. And, in extreme cases, people are advised not to take baths after three o' clock in the afternoon of Good Friday, a belief spread by the Spanish conquistadores.

Children are not allowed to play, with a warning that they might get wounded and that their wounds will take a very long time to heal in the belief that Christ is dead. Some people believe also that traveling during these days to far places is a dangerous and risky thing, with the power of demonic creatures increasing during the days before Easter. In some provinces, fear of malicious creatures spreading harm during these days are widespread. 

In local media, films and shows revolve around horror stories regarding these themes.

Siete Palabras - The Seven last words of Jesus is recited, followed by a meditation, a prayer, a re-enactment of the passion, a play on its lesson or a testimony on the reality of Christ's words today. This is celebrated before the traditional "ninth hour" or the hour of Jesus' death.

The Siete Palabras or Seven Last Words are traditionally referred to Jesus’ words during his crucifixion collected from the four gospels of the bible. Three of His seven last words appear in the Gospel of Luke, another three from the Gospel of John and the rest appeared both in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew.

Since the 16th Century, these words have been widely used during Good Friday. Traditionally in the Philippines, it starts at about 12 noon and precedes an annual procession.

The sanctification of the cross is the practice of letting the faithful kiss the cross of Jesus. This practice is usually attended by the whole parish, where long lines of them wait just for a chance to kiss the feet and hands of the image of Jesus Christ on the cross. 

This is usually done after a mass which focuses on the passion of Christ that has a similar play as that of the passion play used in the Palm Sunday mass. During this mass the Santo Entierro comes face-to-face with the Mater Dolorosa, a representation of the sorrowful meeting of mother and her dead son.

The image of Santo Entierro, or Christ being interred/buried, is the image of Jesus dead on a coffin. Followed by a long procession where the images of the saints, scenes from the life and passion of Jesus and that of the image of Mary in black, mourning the loss of her son. A marching band paying mourning songs even follow the trail that goes around the whole parish. 

Commemorating the burial of Jesus, the church acts as the burial site of Jesus. The faithful rush in as they follow the image in. In some areas, things are inserted in the images palms and feet to turn them into amulets which they later on try out on Black Saturday. 

Flowers on the image's floats are usually taken home to bring in luck, fortune or some other thing. The practice is a long-held one by people in most provinces. In other provinces in the Philippines, the image is interred in a nearby chapel and is accustomed the same rites as that of a person being buried. 

The dead Christ - to discourage a devotion to the dead image, the image is usually hidden for the rest of the year. The people flock in lines again to kiss the image. After which the people are asked to leave as the church closes its doors until the Easter Vigil and the lights are shut out. Thus begins the wait for Easter.

Mater Dolorosa, the image of Mary weeping the fate of her son, is clad in black to show her sorrow. Catholics are attached to this image due to the fact that it reminds them of their own sorrows and the crosses they carry each day. 

After a mournful wailing prayer, the image is brought back to the chapel in a Procession Silencio, a silent procession where the people walk barefoot to the chapel where the image of Mary must stay until the Easter vigil. As a part of tradition, the owner of the image gives out food and drinks to all who joined in the procession.

CUARESMA is a series of pictures and descriptions on the traditions and practices of the Filipino Roman Catholics during Holy Week. All the materials here do not have a copyright, feel free to use them in any way you want. Pictures taken in several locations:

Holy Thursday - March 28, 2013
Chrism Mass - San Fernando De Dilao Parish
Pabasa - Obesis St., Pandacan, Manila
Visita Iglesia - Holy Spirit Church, Mendiola, Manila

Good Friday - March 29, 2013
Self-flagellations - Penafrancia, Manila
The rest of the pictures were taken in Imus Cathedral, Imus City, Cavite