Discontinue bad Holy Week practices

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HOLY WEEK is perhaps the most important religious observance in the Catholic Church yet Roman Catholics fail to fully grasp its meaning.

Does Holy Week always have to be “bloody” and take the form of self-flagellation and crucifixion for the devotee’s sins to be forgiven?

While these practices depict the passion of Christ, these should be put into moderation. Some penitents make extreme measures for the atonement of their sins. They should remember that there is a Sacrament of Reconciliation for them to ask for forgiveness. They don’t have to take drastic measures for them to feel forgiven.

The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has urged the devotees to refrain from Holy Week traditions and practices that inflict pain on themselves “because God already did that for us.”

Maybe we have forgotten the “holy” in the Holy Week. Being holy is living our lives in the image and likeness of God. The emphasis of this religious observance is being holy and not about extreme sacrifices such as flagellation and crucifixion.

Punishment of oneself is not a sure guarantee of reconciliation. If one thinks the more severe his punishment for himself, the more certain he is reconciled, then he is only feeding his superego.

Instead of performing severe practices, Filipinos should focus on continuing the good practices such as the cenaculo (passion play), pabasa (common reading of the Passion story), Visita Iglesia (pilgrimage of churches), Via Crucis (Way of the Cross). Cenaculo and pabasa have more and more disappeared as Holy Week practices and they need to be revived.

These traditions exhibits the passion and death of Christ, an unconditional sacrifice that we should remember especially in Holy Week.

Sadly, some of us observe Holy Week as a habit and as a show for them to be considered as “good” Christians.

They avoid red meat during Fridays and refrain rom sins and yet they curse and speak ill of their neighbors. Being holy should not only reflect in our actions but should also reflect in how we think and how we talk. The Bible says that God is our standard of holiness and we should live like Him.

If we continue to treat Holy Week as a chance for us to display our hypocrisy and arrogance, then we can be likened to the self- righteous Pharisee, who prayed out loud and displayed public religiosity but sneered at the people beneath him, in the Parable of Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

A fitting example for this is the reliance of Filipino on Holy Week as a “cleansing” period. Some people pile up their sins, thinking that if they become “holy” in the Holy Week, they will be “cleansed.” This belief strips off the sincerity of asking for pardon.

This Holy Week let us all be like the humble tax collector who asked God for forgiveness wholeheartedly and admitted his shortcomings. No amount of prayers will be heard if it is from the haughty spirit.

There are also other ways to observe Holy Week. According to Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, instead of walking barefoot for one to atone his sins, “why don’t we give slippers to the children who go to school with their torn slippers?

We should not forget that Holy Week is not about us being “holy” but it is a time to recall God’s mercy and sacrifice to save humanity. Holy Week is not for feeding our ego. It is a sacred event to remember God’s enduring love for us that can only save us and wash away our sins

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