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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, April 6, 2015
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The week just past


Before we lose the momentum of the week just past, let's linger a little bit with some observations so that perhaps this time when everybody is back to the usual, routine grind of earthly life we can still grasp and hold on to nuggets of thoughts that can help us along the way. This is not another recollection – some have a surfeit of that during the week; some had practically none.

The week just past provided a welcome respite as almost all things and work was put on hold, especially for people who work 8-5, six-day week. The problems and worries of the past week were set aside momentarily only to resurrect and haunt us once again when the pages of the calendar shifts to a new week.

EWTN calls the week just past as the “week that changed the world.” Indeed the week summarizes the history of Christian salvation and our annual re-enactment of the events of the last four days keep us constantly reminded of the greatness, boundless and inexhaustible fountain of God's mercy. For as Pope Francis said in his homily just before he washed the feet of prisoners in an Italian jail, God is like a mother who never abandons her child. The Holy Father thus emphasized that even here on earth, the prisoners are not forgotten by the Mother Church and that God's mercy abounds even inside those isolation cells.

We greet everyone a Happy Easter for Christ has risen and dies no more. Our Catholic faith would be worthless, says St. Paul if Christ has not resurrected from the dead. This is the lesson we must yearly renew – we can fall into sin of idolatry of our worldly interests – money, sex, public adulation, control, power, narcissism, rigidities - but as the Cross is lifted and the Victim rises again, so can we rise from the depths of our sinfulness with this abiding faith in Jesus' resurrection, one at a time.

We can die from our idolatries to a new life of recognition that there is only one God and no other and our total submission to His will is the only way to go in this life. For if we remember our catechism, were we not created for one purpose alone – to be with God? Any replacement or substitution of God is delusion, a self-deceit, self-created idols.

Only when we annually rise from our death from these idolatries can we truly attain true happiness even here on earth. Indeed people, according to Fr. Mariano Agruda III, OCD during his two-day recollection at Our Lady's Hill on a “Fresh Look at Our Sins” people substitute God with their own gods of power, money, etc. but can never get satisfaction, only addiction to these replacement gods.

To some the Holy Week was a time for vacation abroad or to the beaches. How they missed the opportunity to spend time with the one true God by replacing him with the god of entertainment, worldly pleasures or relaxation? We cannot begrudge their choice of pursuing false gods. We can only pray and hope that in the end the gods they created to suit their needs and desires make them realize that nothing but the true God can really fill their heart's longings and contentments.

The Holy Week, as with other Catholic liturgy or rituals, is filled with symbolism but sadly many have taken these symbols for substance. Others, lacking in understanding resort to what critics of Catholic worship call idolatrous worship. The palms on Palm Sunday, for instance, are taken as cures or nailing one's self on the cross as true imitation of Christ's suffering. Although Church authorities had been trying to discourage this form of sacrifice, people continue with it because some enterprising tourism officials and travel agencies cash in on the influx of people.

Many people, as native healers, the cirujano (Spanish word for physician) trek to the mountains in search of cures. These herbs and amulets can only be found during Good Friday. Why so? It is believed because God has died and native cures would emerge or are visible from the hidden recesses of the mountains.

Some believed that flowers decorating the carriages of the Santo Entierro and images of saints have curative powers so that by the time these carriages reached the church, they stripped them bare.

The past week have seen a lot of folk Catholicism as much as spiritual contemplation. We are not beyond redemption, another step during the week.*



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