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Acts of penitence may be harmful to health – DOH

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
Acts of penitence may be harmful to health â DOH
“First, we would like to remind people who are into this Lenten tradition of having themselves crucified that this activity may cause you harm,” DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said yesterday.
Businessworld

MANILA, Philippines — In line with the annual observance of Holy Week, the Department of Health (DOH) has advised the public to remain healthy and safe, stressing that acts of self-penance may result in adverse health effects.

“First, we would like to remind people who are into this Lenten tradition of having themselves crucified that this activity may cause you harm,” DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said yesterday.

Vergeire added there are risks in this kind of activity, like getting infected in the parts of the hands and feet that are punctured.

“Aside from infection resulting from the wounds sustained, it is possible for one to get tetanus, especially if the nails or tools used aren’t disinfected or sterilized. So you really need to be careful,” she said.

At the same time, the health official warned that those who are into these Holy Week practices may suffer from loss of blood.

“Once a person gets punctured or pierced, it may directly affect the blood vessels in the hands or feet, and this can cause loss of blood for the individual,” she said.

She also cautioned people on the practice of self-scourging, which is also unsafe and harmful.

“Let us try to be healthy and safe during the Lenten season by doing the appropriate practices. We have other ways to show our sacrifices for the Lord,” Vergeire said.

The DOH also issued a reminder for local governments to monitor and advise residents on participating in Holy Week-related activities.

“In this way, we can give the people the proper guidance and avoid untoward incidents in our communities,” Vergeire said.

These Holy Week traditions are said to be part of penitencia, a form of penance where participants subject their bodies to “lashings, beatings and other forms of self-inflicted flagellation.”

The penitents wear masks, naked up to the waist and wear a crown of leaves.

Caritas Philippines yesterday advised the Catholic faithful to set aside their worldly pleasures and instead be involved in charity works.

In a statement titled “Caritas Philippines: Take Time for Reconciliation, Renewal and Alay Kapwa this Holy Week,” Caritas Philippines president and Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo said Catholics should support the fund-raising Alay Kapwa program of the Catholic Church because “spiritual life is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy.”

“In today’s world, the pull of worldly pleasures is getting more attractive, the laxity of our practice of faith and morals, the excessive possession of and attachments to material things, the individualistic mindset and indifference,” Bagaforo added.

The Alay Kapwa fund-raising program, which is collected during the Lenten season, particularly during Holy Week, aims to help the poor and those in need because it is “a time for spiritual purification, personal conversion and preparation to worthily celebrate the salvation that Christ won for all.”

Bagaforo also encouraged Catholics to participate in traditional Holy Week activities, such as the Visita Iglesia and Via Crucis, so that the commemoration of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ will be more meaningful and fruitful.

“May this season of Lent be a time of grace and transformation, leading us to a deeper relationship with God, and to love and serve our brothers and sisters in need,” he said.

“We celebrate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord during the Holy Week, and one of the understandings of this observance is our imitation of the Lord who suffered, died and rose again for the salvation of the world,” he added.

The prelate also emphasized that the observance of Lent calls the faithful “to journey with Jesus and with one another, to be transfigured by His love and mercy and to take our brothers and sisters with us and lead them to Him who transforms us.”

“Our participation in traditional activities of the Holy Week is one of our expressions of worship besides the liturgy. These expressions are for our personal spiritual nourishment and to be more intimate with Jesus, the Lord,” Bagaforo said. –Evelyn Macairan

DOH

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