Sunday, April 8, 2007

Holy Thursday and Good Friday

We arrived in the church in Sibulan an hour early on the afternoon of Holy Thurs.There had been some sort of mix-up as to when the Mass was to start but it turned out OK for me because I was able to meditate while we waited on the Mass to begin. We have a room to ourselves at Mama and Papa's place and I always wake up early; so, it's always quiet enough for me to do my morning meditation but, I've not been able to do the afternoon one due to the number of family members roaming about the house.

Just after I finished my meditation, a documentary film started showing inside the church. I did not get the artist's name but he did a "Last Supper" painting with Filipino street children replacing the 12 apostles. In this film, the artist told the story of each of the children in his painting. It was a touching and moving story.

J.P. was very restless. He was crying during the Mass so most of my time was spent outside trying to quiet him. It was, of course, better for me to take care of him rather than Cathy because I don't understand enough Visayan to follow the words of the Mass properly. I was not able to witness the washing of feet but I did manage to receive Holy Communion.

On the morning of Good Friday, Cathy and I awoke early to attend the Via Crucis. Cathy's sister, Susan had arrived at the house with her three year old son. Mama and Papa would babysit the two grandsons while Cathy, Susan younger sister Mikki and I went off to the church in Sibulan. We weren't able to catch a ride with a tricycle until we had walked more than a mile to the main highway leading into town. The walk was good preparation for what would be in store for us.

The Via Crucis had already started by the time we arrived at the church;but, because of the direction the procession would be going, we were able to join in at the second station. At the front of the procession was a group of men who would be taking turns carrying the cross. The priest was upfront as well, along with other religious. The priest carried with him a small radio microphone to transmit his words to a van following behind. There were loud speakers atop the van that were reminiscent of the type I've seen in old movies from the 1940s.

After completing a station, the group would proceed along the main highway to the next one while taped music (or a Rosary) played over the speakers.

At the beginning, it seemed to me that the crowd numbered in the hundreds but would reach into the thousands by the end.

I can't say for certain just how far we walked but, I estimate that the distance between stations was between 1/2 to 3/4 mile. We walked for more than three hours. For most of the Via Crucis, the radio reception from the microphone was so poor than it was impossible for me to keep up with what the priest was saying or even keep track of the station number at any particular time.
I was tired, of course, but my legs are strong so there wasn't any pain to speak of in my legs or feet.
Some time around the tenth station I noticed that my hands had become quite swollen and were causing a great deal of pain. I believe this pain in my hands was a gift from the Holy Spirit, allowing me to feel, in a small way, some of the pain Christ had felt with the nails in his hands. Cathy thought the swelling may have come from the way I carried my arms during the walk; her aunt thought that, perhaps, it was an allergic reaction to the dust. There had been a light rain so dust was not a problem that morning.

Though not the most logical explanation, my idea of what was happening at the time still makes the most sense to me.

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