Quite ordinarily and punctuated by hours of solitude even within the household, we observed the Holy Week.
After Palm Sunday, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to make me more attuned to the transforming message and power of the Holy Week. By Wednesday, I found myself fuming with anger while praying at the Chapel of St. Pio. The taxi driver stealthily snaked us through a long route to the Chapel for us to cash out what could have been half of the metered rate. Ironically, we talked about icons all the way to the place :-).
Thank God the place was really silent despite the number of pray-ers. There was nourishing silence that hovers the place, magnified by the framed testimonies of prayers for healing answered attached to the wall, the hospitable readiness of a number of wheelchairs at one door, the neat lines of votive candles, images of Padre Pio and St. Francis of Assisi. Silence was extended to the garden outside the Chapel where life size statues of Padre Pio, Jesus praying at Gethsemane and the Blessed Mother join this chorus of silence.
I was still collared by the noise of anger. But like other pilgrims, there are more important people to pray and ask Padre Pio’s intercession for either silently or through the prayer requests pad provided by the Center. I need not settle my anger right away; it will go away within the week was my little hope.
At home, I have to be realistic. Having a 3-year old kid is not the best time to totally fast from TV. But at the same time, something admirable is going on these days especially with one local channel. It is the way it consciously provides time for religious matters. It is the way the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) is negotiating with media these days, is trailblazing, not to mention its own vocational promotions, religious programs for the viewing public. It is the way it highlights the healing power of the Eucharist through the kind, presidential presence of its main person in Fr. Gerry Orbos, SVD. I was glued to the Holy Thursday mass he presided and despite his charismatic though gentle leadership, the homily on self-forgetfulness was truly contemplative. On behalf of the clergies, he apologized for their misdeeds. It was my first time to witness the ritual of foot-washing beautifully altered: after he washed the “apostles” feet, the latter followed suit for each other. Beautiful symbolism!
I know there is a downside to televised masses especially for those physically able to walk down to the church. So we came down to the real community, more or less charged by this virtual offering.
Good Friday. Not quite good for a woman neighbor, 4-month pregnant, alone and had been trapped for 20 minutes inside their suffocating bedroom because the doorknob malfunctioned. We came to her rescue by sapping part of the wooden door frame with a knife. The thin phone card didn’t work out. Good Friday relief for her.
Pregnancy seems an ordinary sight. But I brought the image as well to the Easter Vigil after re-reading Fr. Lovett’s liturgical plea for the return of this rich, sexual symbol for Easter Vigil:
“It makes sense to talk of an emasculation of the symbolism because the 1956 liturgy was strongly sexual. Only thus could it celebrate the transforming power of creation in us. All the symbols came from the opening chapter of the Book of Genesis. The font symbolizes the womb of mother Church fertilized by the phallic form of the lighted candle which is plunged ever deeper with rising tones by the celebrant. When the candle had reached its deepest point, the celebrant was instructed to breathe on the water in the form of the Greek letter psi, first letter of the term for life, psyche. The symbolism is of fecundity and regeneration. The fertilization of the virgin Church is related to the fertilization of the primeval waters, the waters of chaos. We are given a creation story centered on Christ. The birth of new members, the catechumens, is linked to the birth of the universe.”
Why this sexual symbolism? Fr. Lovett also provides the answer:
“There is a connection between sexuality and death. The message of both is one and the same: we do not have our lives for ourselves, we are not our own…Our habitual trivialization of sexuality is the sign of our inability to accept its true meaning. We creatively live sexuality by accepting the truth of our mutual belonging and by accepting it radically, my flesh for the life of the world.”
Children seem are faring better with the symbolic fertility of the Easter bunnies. In darkness and through the chaos of our lives, we have just been “fertilized” by Christ through his resurrection. Happy Easter to you…
Reference: It’s Not Over Yet: Christological Reflections on Holy Week (Claretian Publications: Quezon City, 1990, p. 66-67)
Photo credit: sumcct