Sunday, March 28, 2010
Morong, Rizal, Philippines – Palm Sunday was beautiful and colorful. I didn’t sleep very well as I was afraid that if I sleep I’ll miss the sunrise Palm Sunday Services. At five o’clock in the morning, Bob and I made it to the town plaza where hundreds of people were gathered. I saw some familiar faces, relatives and friends. I even met my cousins from the San Francisco Bay Area and Florida.
The priest held a brief service, then in the old tradition of tracing the steps of Jesus to Jerusalem, women placed their mats where the priest and his apostles walked to the church. People followed with this beautiful statue of Jesus riding on a donkey, on a carousel being pushed by men. By sunrise, the procession found its way to the church courtyard where the Blessing of the Palms were done by the priest, followed by the Palm Sunday mass, the official start of Holy Week in the Catholic tradition. Hundreds more people waving their palms were gathered to meet the procession. The First Mass of Palm Sunday was spiritually beautiful and joyful!
In the evening, at exactly seven o’clock, the procession of the Stations of the Cross around the town was held. Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. The Stations of the Cross are a series of 14 crosses, usually accompanied by images, representing events in the Passion of Christ and its immediate aftermath. Each station, in addition to representing an event, signifies the actual station, or site, of the event in Jerusalem or on Calvary, or Golgotha, and the series as a whole is, in effect, a model of the Via Dolorosa, the route along which Christ was taken to Calvary. The stations may be placed along the walls of a church or a chapel, or outdoors, along the way to a place of pilgrimage, as a wayside shrine, or in a freestanding group.*
In every procession from the church our street becomes the starting point, circling and crossing every main artery in the town within walking distance, people walking with lit candles and saying the rosary, with the band playing. The first station was in front of the house across the street, so it stopped for prayers for a few minutes, then proceeded to the next station until the fourteenth station. This procession should last about 2 hours. Processions on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday are huge.
Our street, I can happily say, is the closest street to the church. In this particular area of town came the Feliciano clan, one of the largest families in town – not wealthy in material things, but rich in kindness and highly respected. My parents brought us close to the church. The priests that came and went have set foot in our home – for the sharing of a meal or just to greet. Needless to say, which is why Bob and I have put ourselves as the caretaker of our family home, where most family gatherings are held. During Easter, we host our family for a Good Friday feast from 5 to 7 PM, while we prepare to watch the procession. We light our house with candles. My friends wave at me, sometimes stopping for a brief chat.
Our town is also the fortunate steward of one of the most historic churches in the Philippines, Morong Catholic Church that was built originally in the 1600s high above the town. Our street sits at the foot of the steps going up to a highly elevated church that overlooks the town from every angle. The church is famous for its baroque structure, a favorite of movie makers, an attraction for tourists year round.
For more information on the Morong Catholic Church, go to: http://www.catholic-travel.com/news_view.aspx?topMenu=PILGRIMAGES&newsID=42
For images of Palm Sunday, go to: http://www.hillaryvillagers.net/apps/photos/album?albumid=8575503
I ask everyone to enjoy this spiritual Easter tradition and welcome you to share yours.
Posted by villager4ever