A week far from holy

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    SPECTACLE, INDEED! Just as the press release of the City of San Fernando information office proclaimed it was, the Holy Week just past. Not only in the city but in the whole of Pampanga, and presumably, in the rest of the Philippines.

    What with every event of spirituality demeaned to spectator sport, every rite of religiosity reduced to touristy enterprise!  

    Maundy Thursday. The traditional Visita Iglesia losing all its essence of contemplation and sacrifice to simple joy ride or pasyal  to seven or 14 churches, invariably ending to midnight satiation at Jollibee or McDonald’s.

    The meditative prayer on the Stations of the Cross, then variably all 14 in each of the churches or one per church – Jesus is Condemned to Death in the first, down to Jesus is Laid in the Tomb in the last – now consumed in the way of all flesh. Finis. Kaput. Vanished.

    The Blessed Sacrament in the Altar of Repose, known to sarado Catolicos as the monumento transformed, aye, devolved, from the Holy Body for adoration into an object of curious, if shallow, consideration. With the surrounding decorations getting most of the attention.

    Who can still meditate, aye, commune with the mystical body of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, amid all those noisy comings and speedy goings, accompanied by the flashes, whirrs and clicks of cameras, by the range of decibels from ringing tones?

    By the posings – wacky, not excluded – of just about every “visitor” before the santissimo sacramento?

    By friends and acquaintances meeting by the altar itself neither to worship nor pray but to compare some scorecards of sorts: “So how many churches have you visited this far? Mekarakal na kayo?”

    By some fag…er, gays commenting for all to hear how one monumento looked so “chaka” with its
    “pa-environmental ek-ek” , of some other altar looking like the set of a horror movie. The devil there not so much in the details as in those faggots. So damn me for my political incorrectness. 

    And what is Good Friday but one bloody spectacle!

    My quiet, serene, reflective early morning walk at the village square of Villa Victoria shattered by the cacophony of noises from usiseros and the fan base of scores of flagellants going about their rituals of numbing their backs with whips tipped with thin bamboo strips – to the rhythmic plak-plak cadence – then their scratching with brushes having broken glass for bristles – all this with not a few heavily puffing on cigarettes. In Good Fridays past, I even noticed some getting spirituous, rather than spiritual, fortitude not from the archangel Saint Michael, but from the ginebra San Miguel. Some comic irony obtained there, if not ridiculous stupidity.

    And the grandest spectacle of all – the Cutud crucifixions. Now finding stiff, albeit, less bloody, competitions in barangays San Juan, Sta, Lucia and Juliana in the City of San Fernando and in Pampang, Angeles City.

    Self-mortification, panata for some supposedly divine favors either asked for or already received. So it is said of the cause of both flagellant and the crucified. Fearful that I be judged, so I shall not.

    Yet, adhering to the Church teaching that the human body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, I cannot but look at these nailings upon cobbled crosses in some makeshift Golgothas as a desecration of that temple into a boudoir of De Sade and a chamber of Von Sacher-Masoch.                

    Father, forgive us. Even if we know what we are doing.  And undoing.

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