It is the season of lent again. For some it is the season to seek repentance, forgiveness and offer prayer and sacrifices. We Kapampangans, pay great efforts in showing our faith during this time. We are famous for stage plays of reenacting the passion and suffering of Christ. But aside from these, we are also known for our bloody way of showing our faith.
Up until now, I don’t see the point of offering physical pain as a sign of sacrifice. Perhaps, for others, it is one of the noble ways of showing their love to Him. But Christ has sacrificed Himself to save us from our sins, so what is the point of re-enacting that part which is obviously incomparable to what He has done?
Moreover, as the years passed, people indulging in this kind of “religious” activity seem to not take it seriously. Others seem to not pay attention to the whole point of doing this. Others were even getting drunk before doing the act.
These are some of the arguments that I have once raised during a casual conversation with my office mates. We were passing a number of penitents in the street when I opened the discussion. I was not at all surprised when they agreed with me.
Even the church does not encourage this kind of sacrifice. Confessions of sins, prayer, fasting and almsgiving are some of the ways that are deemed most appropriate during the season. But, I guess, due to the strong tradition that were passed from generations to generations flagellations and physically sacrifice during lent continue to live on.
My friend happened to share a very interesting story about their neighbor. Their neighbor was one of the staunch Catholics who strongly believes in the tradition of flagellation during lent. But more than that, my friend found out that one of his neighbor’s daughter has been sick for years. And after his daughter fell ill, he started to offer sacrifice during Lent. According to him, it is his way of shouldering the pain his daughter is feeling. Doing such sacrifice, he believes that her daughter will soon get better.
If it is possible, we will gladly open ourselves to all the pain just to save our love ones. It was one of the noblest acts of love that Jesus has shown us and continue to remind us today.
Knowing this, I realized that I have no right to judge someone or anyone on how they wanted to show their love for God. Whatever their motives for doing that I just have to respect it. In the end, it is only God who has the right to judge for our actions.
As I look at the blood at the back of the flagellants parading in the streets, I realized that we are all different. Everyone of us is unique. Perhaps confession, prayer, and fasting is not enough for others to show their faith. Perhaps it is not for them. Flagellation, perhaps is the only thing that they know how to show they love God. Love can come in many forms. It may not be tolerable for others but it is the least of our concerns.
Perhaps, the season of lent is not just about repentance, prayer, forgiveness or sacrifice. It is also about respect for people who has their own way of showing their faith.
For years, I have failed to offer the least bit decent sacrifice during this season. There are times I spent holy days at the beach with my family or friends and maximizing what I think is vacation from work. Most of the times, I stayed in the house doing nothing but watching movies or shows which reminds me what the season is all about. There are times when I tend to neglect the things that I should not be do during this season like not eating meat. I have also failed to go for confessions. Not in my life I have confessed during this season.
But despite all these, God has never given me reasons to suffer or has given me huge problems that I cannot handle. On the contrary, I found myself being more blessed as the years passed.
Here are some of the shots I took when I watched last year’s stage play of Siete Palabras in Angeles City, Pampanga
Mary’s troubled face as they sentenced Christ
Re-enacting: Pontius Pilate announcing Christ’s crucifixion over the freedom of Barabas
With tattered and blood stained clothes, Christ walks towards the cross he is going to carry to Golgotha.
Bloods were splattered everywhere as a long line of penitents was put to a halt to give way to the ongoing live performance of Siete Palabras.
The reenactment of the last tormenting moments of Christ.