Lent ala pinoy repent love just be kind
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Lent ala Pinoy: Repent. Love. Just be kind!

Feb 9, 2024, 12:00 AM
Luchie Aclan Arguelles

Luchie Aclan Arguelles


Filipinos have a very unique way of celebrating the 40-day Lenten season that starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. This year, propitiously, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentines Day.

Ninety percent of the Philippine population is of Christian faith, predominantly Catholics. Ours is the third largest Catholic country in the world. In the 2020 Census of the Philippine Statistics Authority, approximately 80 percent of the populace belongs to the Catholic faith.

Generally, Filipinos turn contemplative during this season. They believe that practicing noted Lenten traditions help in strengthening faith; that offerings and sacrifices during Lent are repentance for and contemplation on sins committed during the past year.

'Fanaticism' or Penitence?

Other faiths may call observance of Lenten Catholic traditions as "fanaticism." But even non-Christians await many of the annual fetes this season in many parts of the country.

Some of the more popular that attract thousands of spectators — foreign and local — are:

The week-long Moriones Festival in Boac, Marinduque the commemorates the passion of Jesus. Senakulo scenes are reenacted from Holy Monday — the trial to the crucifixion and death — to Easter Monday — when Christ is risen.

The San Pedro Cutud Crucifixion Rites in San Fernando, Pampanga is also a Maundy Thursday through Good Friday passion play. This is participated in by bare-backed penitents who whiplash themselves in the duration of the march. Others carry heavy crosses. This culminates in the actual nailing on the wooden crosses of three penitents.

Penitential Walk or Alay Lakad to the Antipolo Cathedral of Our Lady of Good Voyage. This is very popular among the youth who come in droves. The traditional starting points are the Quiapo Church in Manila and the Baclaran Church in Pasay City. Both distance to Antipolo is about 24 kilometers. Some thread on bare feet. This Lenten vow starts on the evening of Holy Wednesday and gather around the Antipolo church grounds on Maundy Thursday for the Last Supper service. The cathedral was recently declared by Pope Francis as an International Shrine.

Pillars of Lent

These and many more — like the Pabasa, Visita Iglesia, Via Crucis, Seven Last Words, Palm Sunday blessings, and Salubong — are religious acts of devotion that are essential in the spiritual life of Roman Catholics.

The season begins with repentance and reflection. Catholics usually go to confession at the start of the Lent.

Then, we devote this period to constant Prayer, Fasting (and Abstinence) and in Almsgiving, the three pillars of Lent.

Growing up, our parents made a checklist that even children are compelled to practice and make sacrifices.

We attended retreats and recollections, went to daily Mass, and did good deeds for the needy. Our father scheduled at least one visit with some pack lunches and goodies for those in the free wards of the former provincial hospital, the orphanage in Taal and the provincial prison in Batangas City.

Holy Wednesday through Thursday was dedicated to the annual Pabasa or sing-song recital of the Passion of The Christ. I remember there is a loud speaker in front of our house where others joined and partook of salabat and plain bread.

The fun part for us as a family was the annual pilgrimage to Antipolo and a picnic at the nearby Hinulugang Taktak sometime during Lent.

On Good Friday through Black Saturday, the older folks attend a candle-lit vigil where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed behind the sacristy. The service had an atmosphere of a "wake". After that, the Blessed Sacrament is placed in its gold cage covered with purple cloth, just like all the images in the church.

Salubong on the eve of Easter Sunday was a very joyous occasion where a child dressed like an angel is lifted or made to go on top of a ladder. At the strike of 12 midnight, "the angel" snatches the black veil of the Virgin Mary, signifying the end of mourning as the "Christ is Risen"!

These practices are recognition of God's love and compassion for the humankind.

Our Lenten Message: Repent. Love. Just be kind!

(email opinyon.luchieA@gmail.com)

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