The past 3 Holy Weeks have been extra meaningful for me. I've had reflections which are important guides on how to live my life. An hour ago, it hit me that I am so blessed to be Christ's believer (1) I particularly like His brand of leadership: to be a leader, you have to be a servant and (2) His teachings are timeless and if you are faithful to the scriptures, you can make this world a square foot more bearable and worthwhile to live in and (3) no greater love than to offer your life and endure suffering to save me, you and the rest of the world.
During Holy Week, one of the more popular Christian tradition is the Visita Iglesia. It is a Roman Catholic Lenten custom to visit 7 churches and recite the 14 stations of the cross. The significance of the number 7 may root from the 7 last words, seven deacons of the twelve Apostles, seven ancient basilicas of Rome and so on. Doing it for the very first time as a family (a teeny-weeny one at that - there's just the 2 of us), we joined Person A's family and made it into a bonding activity.
What follows are the 7 churches we visited yesterday, some lines lifted from The New Way of the Cross by Fr. Petronio that struck me and what I find nice in the churches we visited. Person A and I plotted this year's itinerary.
1. UP Chapel (Parish of the Holy Sacrifice) - UP, Quezon City
a. 1st Station: The Last Supper: "You remained in the Eucharist, to be the food that gives eternal life. Stay in our midst to remind us that God continues to redeem us until the last moment of our lives".
b. 2nd Station: The Agony of Jesus in the Garden: "Father if it is Your will, remove this cup from me, yet not my will but Yours be done"
The UP Chapel will always be special to me and to us. I have spent countless hours praying to God to help me with my troubles and it is also here that I asked God to send me the man He has prepared for me. In 3 months, He answered my prayer. It is also the first place that Person A and I went to after we first held hands.
And you can never ignore the street foods: squid balls and kikiam for the win!
2. Santuario (Santuario de San Antonio) - Forbes Park, Makati
a. 3rd Station: Jesus Faces the Sanhedrin: "Lord Jesus Christ, You are the judge of the whole mankind, but you accepted a sentence given to You that is unjust. You are the most holy, the only one on earth without a stain of sin, who endured all cruel accusations" I am sure we have judged and been judged unfairly a number of times and this station is a clear example of how to handle such situations.
b. 4th Station: The Scourging and Crowning with Thorns: " But you never complained at all. You endured all those sufferings, like a sheep to be slaughtered, you were meek... while many of us are unmindful of a cruel and unjust system.
This church is one of the more breathtaking churches in Makati and if you want to see Manila's society's who's who, they normally attend service here.
3. Sacred Heart (National Shrine of the Sacred Heart) - San Antonio, Makati
a. 5th Station: Jesus Accepts His Cross: "The cross that you bear is our cross, our cross of weakness, our cross of despair, of our rejection, and of our bad actions. Obtain for us dear Lord, the grace to become compassionate with our neighbors in atonement for our wrongdoings. "
b. 6th Station: Jesus Falls Because of the Heavy Cross: "Like you Lord, there are many of us who fell with our face flat on the ground, for the many trials and rejections that tore us. When we stumble and fall, Lord, come to our rescue! And if we no longer can bear the trials that come our way, obtain for us a compassionate heart that we may not be a burden to others"
Sacred Heart had been my neighborhood church for 5 years. I like the feel of lightness and comfort it evokes and had we opted to get married in the city, this church is at the top of our list.
4. Don Bosco (St. John Bosco Parish) - Pasong Tamo, Makati
a. 7th Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross: "Simon just passed by on his way home from the farm. He was forced to change his path, a change that made a difference in his life. He experienced Your pain Lord, which is why he discovered that life can only be meaningful, if there is willingness to share one's life and effort to others.
b. 8th Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem: "May we also imitate them in our atonement for our sins which caused you so much grief and pain"
I personally like the grandness of the altar of this church and the works of Don Bosco that the church represents. A bit of trivia, the original Amici is still operational in the church premises.
5. Magallanes Village Church ( St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguore Parish) - Magallanes Village, Makati
a. 9th Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross: "You suffered out of love for sinners and not because you were crucified. It was love that brought you there. And it was also love that You remained there. Grant us O Lord the grace to fulfill our duties and obligations in the spirit of love, even if this will bring us pain"
b. 10th Station: The Repentant Thief: "Lord Jesus, you cannot refuse a contrite heart of a sinner, who humbles himself in front of many, who speaks to You full of faith and trust, who believes in Your kingdom Lord. You did not forsake him"
It's hard not to be in awe with this imposing arches along SLEX and the church bells are an art of its own.
6. Emiliani Church (St. James Emiliani and Sta. Susana Parish) - Alabang Town Center, Filinvest, Muntinlupa
a. 11th Station: Virgin Mary and John at the foot of the Cross. "You brought peace and joy to our lives, because You gave all to us, Your mother - who is also our Mother."
b. 12th Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross: "Your life is the only one You've got, but You offered it freely for us, for our salvation and our share in Your life everlasting"
I think this is one of the beautiful and refreshing churches in the south. It is very airy and has the equally chill ATC next door.
7. St. James (St. James the Great Parish) - Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa
a. 13th Station: Jesus is Buried in the Tomb. "The tender love of your mother served as the only light in the dark hours of your death. The faithfulness of Apostle John and the friendship of Joseph of Arimathea made the light shine even more."
b. 14th Station: Jesus Rises from the Dead: "Your rising from the dead, Lord is the cornerstone of our resurrection"
Home to the annual St. James Bazaar - this church has one of the best, if not best, courtyard there is.
These words struck a chord in my heart yesterday and I am hoping that this will lead me closer to eternal life. Second, the story of the passion of Christ is one of the best stories ever that happened and written: if you look at all the players from Jesus, to Pilate, Caiaphas, John, Simon, Judas, Simon from Cyrene, Mary Magdalene, the Roman soldiers, Joseph of Arimathea... you can earn at least 2 PhDs just by analyzing each characters!
Jesus's life on Earth, described in the words that give me strength every morning, has a deeper meaning now that I was able to reflect on it another year. What made it extra special for me also is that the husband took the lead in our Stations of the Cross and which we agreed will be our own family's tradition - who knows next year - it will not be just the 2 of us. We may consider bringing our dog.
On this note, allow me to end our fun activity with a Groufie.
Team Family, Team Cunanan.
Oh wait, there's also Team Family, Team Regalado from last weekend.
I am hoping, you, my dear friends are having a meaningful Holy Week.
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