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One evening Mass to draw faithful today

- Ben Bernales -
In keeping with the post-Vatican II liturgical reform, only one evening Mass in all churches today will draw the parishioners to observe Maundy Thursday.

This opens the Easter Triduum, a series of celebrations spread over three days recalling the death, passion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

The other service earlier held this morning in the bishop’s cathedral for all priests in the diocese is called Chrism Mass, when blessed oil for use in anointing the sick is distributed to the clergy present.

Holy Thursday’s liturgy of the word focuses on the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his apostles (John 13:1-15) and instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, "This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me" (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Also recalled is the betrayal of Judas Iscariot which Jesus foretold during the Passover meal with his disciples (John 13:21-30).

Enacting the washing of the feet ritual, male parishioners depict the apostles and the parish priest plays the role of Jesus.

The service ends with a procession transferring the consecrated host from the tabernacle to the altar of repose set up in one wing of the church decked out with flowers, carpet and lights, which devotees will visit in the traditional visita iglesia all through the night and the following day before the Good Friday services begin.

The Good Friday liturgy commemorating the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ takes place at 3 p.m. with the pious doing the Stations of the Cross around the church perimeter before the services. The liturgy is composed of readings (Isaiah 52-53, Psalms 31, Hebrews 4, 5 and John 18-19), responses, homily and solemn intercessions; veneration of the cross and a communion service.

On the evening of Saturday towards midnight is held the Easter vigil. This is composed of four major liturgical components — the service of the light, liturgy of the word (from Genesis 1-2, 22; Exodus 14-154; Psalms 16, 19, 30, 42, 104, 118; Isaiah 54-55; Romans 6 and Matthew 28), rites of initiation and the liturgy of the eucharist.

The triduum closes with an evening prayer on Easter Sunday.

The Philippines has a unique Easter celebration called salubong. At the crack of dawn on Easter morning before the first Mass of the day, two processions, each led by the icons of the Risen Christ and the Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowing Mother), go from the church grounds toward opposite directions and converge at a designated place known in some barrios like Nampicuan in Nueva Ecija as galilea. Loud applause of the crowd and brass band music announce the happy encounter of Mother and Son.

As the Easter Triduum services and celebrations as stipulated in the reform of liturgy following Vatican II (1962-1965) draw devotees in droves and pack churches like no other time of the year, outside the church unorthodox Lenten practices and rituals frowned upon by the ecclesiastical hierarchy go on, attracting hordes of curious gawkers, including foreign tourists, as well as believers in the efficacy of these practices as spiritual supplications.

These penitensya practices, observed principally in Luzon, include self-flagellation and mock crucifixion. Penitents beat their bare backs with thongs encrusted with sharp blades or nails until they become bloodied. They end their ordeal by bathing in a nearby river. Many eyewitness reports claim that after the penitents come out of the water their wounds heal and do not at all get infected.

In the early 1970s, a young man sired by an American serviceman who left for home abandoning his pregnant common-law wife, had himself nailed to a makeshift cross to draw attention to his search for his missing father. Father and son later met due to the worldwide publicity generated by the unusual mock crucifixion.

Penitents, including women in recent years, have themselves nailed to a cross for such motives as thanksgiving for blessings obtained or vow of penance for wrongs committed.

Their survival will, however, face an acid test vis-á-vis the recent statements from the hierarchy denouncing such practices.

AS THE EASTER TRIDUUM

CHRISM MASS

EASTER SUNDAY

EASTER TRIDUUM

GOOD FRIDAY

HOLY EUCHARIST

HOLY THURSDAY

JESUS CHRIST

JESUS OF NAZARETH

JUDAS ISCARIOT

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