The purpose of Holy Week processions
The Holy Week processions are a spectacle. Life-size images parade in beautiful dresses carried by flower-decorated carrozas. But there is more to it than a display of pasos (local term for the images) in well-lit floats.
Its purpose, according to Ateneo de Naga University Press director Father Wilmer Tria, "is to remind us of the biblical characters during the public ministry of Jesus and of His passion and death."
Hence, these pasos joining the processions: Jesus' entry to Jerusalem, His apostles, the Stations of the Cross, His mother Mary, and the people that showed compassion during His suffering.
The procession during Holy Wednesday is simply Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross. Its purpose is to recall the journey of Jesus Christ to Mount Calvary.
The traditional way of the cross begins with Jesus condemned to death, while the "New Way of the Cross" introduced by Pope John Paul II begins with the Last Supper. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has approved the latter, thus its adoption by parishes in the country.
The Last Supper shows the institution of the Eucharist. In the Catholic Church, it is considered a sacrament, where Catholics believe bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Holy Eucharist is the reenactment of the Last Supper.
The Agony in the Garden is about Jesus in the midst of grief praying to His Father: "not my will but yours be done." According to Pope Benedict XVI, this must be an everyday prayer because it is not always easy to entrust ourselves to God's will.
Jesus before the Sanhedrin tells how the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin try to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put Him to death. For Pope Francis, purposely avoiding gossip is a beautiful path to take.
The scourging and crowning with thorns is about Pilate taking Jesus and had Him scourged. Jesus' non-resistance is His patient love for mankind.
Jesus Receives the Cross after He was mocked, stripped of the purple cloak and back with His own clothes for His crucifixion. It is the start of the execution of Jesus, "who is called the Messiah."
Jesus falls under the weight of the cross when His strength was exhausted. Yet, He has kept his resolve.
Simon of Cyrene carries the cross of Jesus. "He walked beside Christ, bearing the same burden" is a reminder to help those in need.
Jesus turns to the pious women of Jerusalem. His message "do not weep for me, but for yourselves and your children" is a call for true sorrow of the evil committed.
Jesus nailed on the cross is Jesus consecrated as Lord on that throne. And as Pope Francis said: "the Lord from the cross is there for you."
The repentant thief is an example for those who are trying to have a renewed life with Jesus.
Mary and John at the foot of the cross is about her complete submission to the will of God and letting the Holy Spirit guide her through.
Jesus dies on the cross to show that He will not abandon man in the darkness of sin. It must give us hope, especially in times of terrible suffering, be it physical or spiritual.
Jesus laid in a tomb teaches mankind to live in the hope of His resurrection.
Jesus rises from death, or the resurrection, is the crowning truth of the Christian faith. It confirms his divinity and fulfills his teachings and promises.
Good Friday Procession
This next procession is with the Santo Entierro or the Dead Christ on Good Friday. It comes after the Mass of the Passion of the Lord. These church services – Stations of the Cross and Seven Last Words – have already concluded by 3 pm, which is the time Jesus is believed to have died.
Night Procession on Good Friday
Soledad is the night procession with Mater Dolorosa, also called the Our Lady of Solitude (Nuestra Senora dela Soledad), the title of the Blessed Mary during her most desolate time. This is about the grieving mother of Jesus, though many misinterpreted it as the search for the body of her son.
During the procession, Mater Dolorosa is joined by these pasos: St. Peter, St. John, Sta. Maria Magadalena, Sta. Veronica and Sta. Maria Salome. The procession begins at the church around 9 pm.
It is called soledad because we remember the solitary moments of the Blessed Mother, after the death of Jesus. She is now alone, "ulila" as we say in Filipino, ADNU professor Patrick Balmaceda explained.
During the procession there are 7 stations depicting the seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At every station, after each meditation and short prayer a cantor sings to Mary to console her in her grief.
For Balmaceda, "this becomes the poignant moments of reflection among the faithful to accompany Mary in her sadness, in her sorrow, lamenting the death of her Son and pondering it in her heart." This also shows us how spiritual contemplation can be possible with solitude.
After the Soledad procession, the image of Mary, Mater Dolorosa, is brought back to the main church and positioned near the image of the dead Christ while the faithful keeps vigil over Christ, accompanying Mary.
The Holy Week processions depict the central theme of the Catholic faith – passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is also an expression of faith and solidarity among Catholic members. – Rappler.com
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