Tag Archives: Holy Week

The Seven Last Words

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During Good Friday, The Christian community reflects on the last words of Jesus Christ on the cross. These words or statements known as the Seven Last Words is integral in the contemplation of his Passion and Death.  Finding out the meaning behind these words ultimately leads us to the challenge of forgiveness.

The pains that Jesus Christ went through have been recounted over and over again. Our own pains, though very real, may never get close to what he endured. The Seven Last Words show Jesus Christ’s humanity and divinity as he suffered through the pain and yet managed to accept God’s will in fulfilling His mission in saving mankind and in forgiving.

1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” [Luke 23: 34]

Even while going through the severe pain inflicted on him, He asked for the forgiveness of His tormentors from His Father. This shows his unlimited compassion for mankind even to the soldiers who directly mocked and tortured Him, and eventually nailing Him to the cross. This act is a very good example of his teaching for us to forgive our enemies and to reach out even to the sinful.

2. “Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise.” [Luke 23: 43]

Christ uttered these words to the man being crucified next to him. It is also about forgiving specifically those who repent for their sins. He assures that the doors of heaven is always open even to the sinful who seeks His mercy and forgiveness.

3. “Woman, behold thy son … Behold thy mother.” [John 19: 26, 27]

Ever compassionate for the people around Him, Jesus Christ asked His disciple John to look after His mother Mary who was believed to be already a widow at the time. In turn, He gave His mother to John. This encourages the faithful to bring Mary to our own homes and hearts.

4. “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” [Matthew 27: 46]

These words expressed a feeling of abandonment and showed Jesus Christ’s human side. He had the whole weight of the task of saving mankind who had abandoned Him. It is through this experience that He understands man’s cry of despair while reminding us that He will never abandon us.

5. “I thirst.” [John 19: 28]

These words are seen as the only reference to the physical suffering He was going through. But more than the actual physical thirst, it was thirst for souls to be brought nearer to God. Jesus Christ refused to take the anesthetic drink provided to those who are to be crucified but asked for His final drink for relief of His thirst upon the moment that He knew that everything was accomplished.

6.  “It is finished.” [John 19: 30]

This was Jesus Christ’s acknowledgment that His mission on earth was accomplished. With His surrender to the will of the Father, He has saved mankind from sin. It is up to us now not to waste this sacrifice by shunning sin.

7. “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” [Luke 23:46]

With these words, Jesus Christ showed His perfect surrender to His Father’s will. He committed Himself to the loving care of His Father on His dying hour, just like what we must do. Death holds the promise of eternal life in His love.

Simple Lenten Practices to Observe

Lent is definitely a solemn religious observance. With the propensity of most people nowadays  to treat the no-work and no-classes days related to the season as vacation time, it can be very challenging to strictly follow the traditional ways. However, we can still observe simple Lenten practices so as not to forget the real reason for the season of Lent.

Lent

Seek Silence

The world we are living in now is really very noisy not only with actual sounds that we hear around us but also with our own inner noises of discontent and negativity. Most people associate being noisy with being happy when nothing can be farther from the truth. During the season of Lent, we are given the opportunity to choose silence over noise and use the time for prayer, contemplation, and coming to terms with our own issues towards the end of making us closer to God.

Reignite Zeal

We may be one of those people who totally forgot or choose to forget about the Lenten traditions we have grown up with. Reignite the zeal by participating once again in age-old traditions of going to mass, reconciling through confession, and being an active part of Lenten activities. There is nothing better than going back to our roots when we seek inner healing.

Go Positive

Instead of merely concentrating on what we should not be doing during Lent, we can go positive by thinking of what we can do to be true to the real meaning of the season. It asks us to make sacrifices  but these need not be limited to not eating or doing this and that. If you choose for example to abstain from doing your favorite fun activity during Lent, wouldn’t the time be more productively used if you choose to do volunteer work instead of griping over social media how much “sacrifice” you are doing?

A Reminder

As practicing Catholics, we are enjoined to observe Lent by remembering and commemorating the death and sacrifices of Jesus Christ in preparation for Easter which celebrates His resurrection. There is no need to do extreme physical sacrifices such as self-flagellation  or even appearing sad when we fast. Observing simple Lenten practices is enough. God knows our sacrifices.

Holy Week and What It Means to the Faithful

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The last week of Lent is referred to as the Holy Week.  It starts on Palm Sunday and includes Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, and the Triduum consisting of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, sometimes also referred to as Black Saturday.  Easter Sunday which is considered the most awaited event in the Christian faith is no longer considered part of the Holy Week because it is distinct in itself being the triumph of Christ over death.

Holy Week essentially commemorates the Passion and Death of Christ.  The celebration of the Holy Mass is not done from Maundy Thursday up to Holy Saturday and crosses in churches are veiled.  After sundown on Holy Saturday however, the celebration of Easter begins  through the Easter Vigil.

There are four parts to the Easter Vigil including the Service of Light, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of Baptism, and the Holy Eucharist.  The Holy Eucharist in this vigil is considered the first mass for Easter Sunday.  The vigil is expected to finish before breaking of dawn.

During the Holy Week, many traditions are observed including fasting and abstinence, meditation and deep prayer, various forms of sacrifices depending on the culture, praying the Stations of the Cross, visiting several churches or the Visita Iglesia, or simply the observance of quiet.  Fasting as a religious observance is willingly abstaining from food, drinks, or both.  Catholics equate fasting with reducing intake of food to one full meal for a day.  Meat is also not taken during all Fridays of Lent.  Fasting is required on specific days on Catholics aged 18 to 59.  The abstinence from meat on specified days however includes Catholics from 14 years old.

In some countries like the Philippines, there are still some penitential rites being performed which are not really encouraged by the Catholic Church.  These include being nailed to the cross, flagellation, and willfully undergoing other severe forms of physical pain.  The Catholic Church looks favorably on other practices such as the “senakulo” or the reenactment of Christ’s passion through plays or visiting places that encourage prayer and meditation.  Staying at home to pray is equally acceptable for Holy Week.

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Palm Sunday

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The start of the Holy Week is represented by Palm Sunday, the day where Catholics go to Church to have their palm branches blessed.  It is the Sunday before Easter.  The biblical event speaks of the triumphant entry of Jesus to Jerusalem which is interpreted as  Christ’s establishment of kingship over Israel.  Contrary to a political leader which was what was expected by the people, Jesus came in humility riding a donkey as opposed to horses commonly used by warriors.

The choice in the animal ridden is considered very significant as a donkey represented peace while a horse is often associated with war.  Jesus intended to be seen as a Prince of Peace rather than a king about to wage war against anyone.  This particular event is commemorated every year but its date is movable depending on the current liturgical calendar.

In today’s time, the raising of palm branches is done in honor of Jesus.  In a church ceremony where the people read the Passion of Christ while holding on to their palm branches, we are reminded that most people who waved their branches to welcome Jesus were the very same ones who joined the call for His crucifixion.  This pertains to the natural weakness of man. Palm Sunday signals the beginning of Christ’s journey to the Cross.

Blessed palms or olive branches are placed in homes as part of witnessing for Christ.  They are considered sacramentals or sacred signs instituted by the Church.  They are not to be treated as amulets or magical weapons against evil spirits or catastrophe to prevent any superstitious belief from deviating from its real meaning.

They are disposed either through burying or burning.  The Church usually requests the faithful to give their old previously blessed palm branches to be burned and used as ash for Ash Wednesday.  Palm weaving is a popular tradition in many countries including the Philippines, Italy, and Poland.

 

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