As a majorly Christian country, most of us Filipinos are well acquainted with Holy Week and the reason for its existence. This 40-day commemoration of Christ’s passion and resurrection is a yearly reminder of his love and mercy for us. It conveys God’s fundamental message of salvation. Hence, most Catholics say Holy Week, especially Easter, is the most important celebration of faith – even more important than Christmas.
Since Holy Week is considered one of the longest Holidays in the Philippines, many of us take advantage of this opportunity to travel. There’s no school for kids and no work for parents, so the whole family can definitely get away. We go to the beach, visit our provinces, or travel out of the country. I don’t intend to sound like some self righteous devout Catholic here because I am also guilty of planning trips and enjoying myself during this time BUT I have always TRIED my best to HONOR this Holy season in some ways I can and know how. Most especially today that I already have a family of my own, I intend to observe Lenten practices and teach my children the importance of God’s redemption.
Honestly, observing Lenten practices may be quite difficult for a lot of us. Thus, I suggest to only practice those which you deem meaningful and important. In my opinion, you don’t really have to hear mass and be in deep prayer all day the whole week (okay maybe the elders are condemning me now). You just have to appreciate and accomplish the practices that are most applicable to you and your family.
Personally, here are the top five practices that are most meaningful to me:
1.Palm Sunday Mass
It happens only once a year and missing it is like missing out on something “cool” in church, don’t you think so? 🙂 I love seeing fellow Catholics waving their palms during this special mass. Oh and I get quite OC and choose nicely design palms haha! It’s a very cultural learning of faith for children too.
Trivia: Did you know that dried out palms from last year are burned and used as ashes for Ash Wednesday?
Okay, I have to admit, I’m a bad Catholic and I rarely go to confession. But during Lent, I make sure I go. This is the essence of the whole celebration – REPENTANCE. We repent and beg for God’s mercy and because He loves us, he will save us. This is a must. I prefer doing this on Holy Wednesday or Maundy Thursday. Beware of the long lines though. Try to go in the evening and have a short quiet meditation while waiting for your turn.
3. Stations of the Cross
This is one of the enjoyable bonding activities you can do with your family during Holy Week. In our case, each year, we try to visit a new church we haven’t been to yet, and pray the Stations of the Cross Prayers there. Let each member of the family lead the prayer for each station to make it more proactive.
Visita Iglesia is somewhat similar and is also a great Lenten practice but it involves a lot of travel time – church hopping from one place to another. It’s definitely a meaningful yet fun practice. You can insert a bit of fun on the road trip and food trip too. However, for those with younger kids, I suggest you do what we do instead. Visita Iglesia can happen when the kids are older.
Tip: Avoid the churches in Tagaytay. For some reason, everyone decides to go there for Visita Iglesia/Stations of the Cross and traffic is SOOO BAD. It took us 5 hours before.
4. Good Friday 3:00PM Prayer
Jus to commemorate Jesus’ sacrifices and death, we say the 3:00pm prayer, especially on Good Friday. It’s simply an honor of His pain and thanking Him deeply for what He has done for us. This can be done anywhere. We usually just do it at home or in a nearby chapel.
5. EASTER SUNDAY CELEBRATION
Easter has always been a special festivity for our family. Aside from it being the most significant celebration of faith for Catholics (they say it’s even more important than Christmas), we have been made aware, thanks to science, that our first-born daughter was actually conceived in Easter of 2014. She is our biggest blessing and we can’t thank God enough for her. Hence Easter will always be special for us. Luckily, my birthday would also fall on the same day as Easter once in a while – LIKE THIS YEAR! Yay! 🙂 I’m so excited to celebrate my birthday with all of us believers of Christ! And I can’t wait to rejoice and renew my spirit as I turn a year older.
Oh hey, I digress. More of the birthday drama next time! Haha!
I really enjoy attending Easter Sunday mass and Easter Sunday events with my family. Having a little toddler this time around also makes the experience all the more fun as we hunt for the most enjoyable Easter events around the Metro. I actually came up with a list of Easter events in Metro Manila but unfortunately it was hacked and I had to take it down. 🙁 Nevertheless, choose from so many fun events around (hotels have the best events!) and bring your kids!
Apart from the enjoyment we acquire from these egg hunts, parties, and favors, I really think that we should teach our children the true meaning of Easter. We should instill in them the value of mercy and forgiveness, which Jesus wholeheartedly bestowed upon us. Like how mommy and daddy would forgive all their naughty pranks and disobedience, they should also learn to forgive those who have hurt them. And as long as we say sorry and sincerely repent for our sins, mercy will come upon us. Subsequently, a renewed spirit is always a joyful spirit. What a wonderful lesson to impart with our kids! 🙂
As I have mentioned, there are so many different ways to commemorate Holy Week. You just have to know and understand the meaning of what you are honoring or celebrating. Then it’s up to you to fulfill the observance.
Here is a sample itinerary for your guide
Please don’t get me wrong. Go on and plan your beach trip! Go on and eat your steak! Fasting and abstinence can be observed in other more meaningful ways (I GAVE UP CHOCOLATE THIS YEAR AND IT HURTS SO BAD). My birthday often falls on a Holy Week and I end up celebrating either way. So I’m not judging or imposing anything here, friends. These are merely suggestions. At the end of the day, it’s all about your own personal relationship with God. And it’s about the real repentance in our hearts.
HAVE A BLESSED AND MEANINGFUL HOLY WEEK! 🙂
Looking forward to a renewed spirit,