Back in the 80s and 90s, observing the Holy Week was a totally different experience.
Lola Trining, my grandmother (father side) thought me the importance of the Lenten Season. She paved the way for me to participate in the Holy Week traditions. She modelled the importance of fasting, prayer and moments of reflection.
Today, things are different. Families often prepare for the Holy Week early, trying to look for the cheapest airfare options and resort rates.
A lot of people use the Holy Week to get together with family and friends; to relax and enjoy some time away from work and the office.
We can’t really blame them, though. Maybe it’s really the only opportunity they have to relax and recharge.
Despite this, however, many still use the Holy Week as a time for reflection and renewal of faith. People still flock to churches during Visita Iglesia; many still hear Mass on Good Friday and witness the Seven Last Words and Passion of Christ.
Majority of the younger generation have a different understanding of how the Holy Week is celebrated, maybe because of the practices they were exposed to while growing up.
But, this is not to say that all is lost. Here in Cavite, for example, the streets are usually quiet beginning Maundy Thursday until the wee hours of Easter Sunday.
If you go to places in upland area or Indang, Amadeo, Alfonso and Tagaytay – you’ll see lines upon lines of people waiting for their turn at the Stations of the Cross. And this includes young people; teenagers and children. Some of them may be too young to fully understand why they’re doing what they’re doing; but at least they’re on the right track. Let’s just hope they don’t stray from that path later on.
There are also some people who do their best to make the best of both worlds work.
They go on an out-of-town retreat or on a staycation, while they also spend some time for reflection. They don’t actually go to different Churches for the Visita Iglesia, and neither do they join retreats. But, they try their best to spend time alone with their thoughts and pray.
They find time to do some reflection. Often, the sincerest prayers and reflections are those that are said in times of solitude.
This year, many will troop to the resorts and vacation destinations during the Holy Week.
But, many others will do their best to be faithful to their hearts and find some alone time with God.
And I think this is what’s most important; that we all find time to stop and reflect – on our relationships with family and friends, on how we have treated others, on our dreams and goals, on our doubts and fears; on our life.
It doesn’t matter whether you do this while joining a retreat, a recollection or hopping from one church to another; or while vacationing with loved ones in a secluded island. What matters most is the sincerity in your heart; that you know why we are here; that you know how and why we were saved.
Listen for the voice of Jesus this week. He calls out for us. He thirsts for us while he suffers for us on the cross. Yes, he will exhale a final breath on Good Friday but he will also draw the first breath of new life on Easter Sunday.
Do not be afraid to join Him on this journey. Embrace the passion of this Holy and heart-heavy week, grounded in faith that the story does not end in sadness.