Roman Catholics and other Christian denominations observe the Season of Lent, which represents the 40 days on which Jesus Christ retreated into a desert in order to sacrifice and reflect all by Himself. Technically, the Lenten Season begins on Ash Wednesday, the day people attend church service and have their foreheads drawn with a cross from ashes, a sign that we come from ashes and thus will return to ashes.
As I write this article (Thursday, April 07), it will have been Holy Week by next week. Being devout Christians that a vast majority of us are, we look forward to the sacred week with solemnity and reverence. However, there are many of us who consider Holy Week a respite from the daily grind and the hustle and bustle of professional (and/or student) life, which tends to render us jaded and disoriented.
In our beloved Philippines, Holy Week is considered a holiday and consequently, it becomes a long weekend. Contrastively, many countries- especially the United States, where I resided for some time- treat Holy Week as just another ordinary week for people from these countries prioritize nothing but work (and school, for students).
Yes, we Filipinos regard Holy Week as one of the major holidays in our country due to its religious significance!
With the exception of working people such as fast food staffs, BPO employees, law enforcers, medical frontliners, and others, we all would jump for joy once Holy Week sets in. We all look forward to at least four (4) days of rest and recreation because we want to escape even momentarily from the headaches and heartaches brought about by our jobs through leisure. However, such should not be the prime motivation for looking forward to Holy Week. Instead, we must be truly serious about treating Holy Week as a time for true relaxation, deep reflection, and profound introspection.
Why should we treat Holy Week as a time for relaxation, reflection, and introspection?
First of all, Holy Week as a time for relaxation should be a time for us to stop whatever we are doing at work because we need to have our undivided attention when we pray to God. We also have to remember that relaxation in the case of Holy Week means freeing ourselves from doing activities that are opposite of those considered sacred during Lent, such as indulging in too much food, traveling to tourist spots instead of visiting churches and attending services, and watching Netflix instead of attending online services. Relaxing also means that we have to eat right, exercise our body, sleep at least seven to eight hours a day, and praying because taking care of our body helps us to prepare to reflect further together with contemplative and sincere prayer.
Reflection should not be limited to Holy Week because we need to think about what we have done to God and our fellow humans, whether meritorious or nefarious our actions may have been. Holy Week, though the most solemn of all seasons, must be the start for us to deepen our faith by accepting God into our lives not just by creed or speech but also by deed and with conviction. Regardless of our religious affiliation or state of spirituality, God enjoins us all to immerse ourselves in contemplative prayer, both alone and together. The essence of Holy Week is basically about recognizing that Jesus Christ died for all our sins and has redeemed us from spiritual ignominy and eternal damnation, as well as reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifices for us to be liberated from total moral decadence. We also need to reflect on our very own religious and spiritual practices as well as on our motivations behind our practices. Thus, introspection is much needed.
Introspection during Holy Week requires us to not only look inward in terms of how we communicate with God but also how we actually communicate and deal with our fellow humans. Yes, we admit that we tend to be self-serving (and such is not the essence of Holy Week) and adamant about using Holy Week as an escape from our troubles instead of being in contemplative prayer. When we look deep within ourselves in terms of how we actually live God’s teachings and principles, we have to brace ourselves for being struck by our conscience for such is proof that the Holy Spirit is working to help us to change our ways for the better.
Let us all make annual Holy Weeks as opportunities for us to grow in God’s love, grace, and mercy so that we would become more mature as we exist not only for ourselves but also for others!
God bless you all!
GUESS WHAT, GUESS WHO!
(For this Holy Week issue, we will not be having our GUESS WHAT, GUESS WHO! segment. We will resume our segment on Easter Sunday, April 17. Thank you! –ETR)
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