A Good Friday Celebration Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:56
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Category: Christianity

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In many countries of the world that celebrate Easter, we think of dressing in our best clothes and going to church to pass our respects to Christ. If not Catholic or Christian, we think of a nice peaceful day with bunnies, Easter Egg Hunts for the kids, and a nice day to barbeque with family and friends. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in a small country made up of thousands of islands is Philippines, a country that contains a majority of uneducated religious people, mostly Catholics and Christians, whom celebrate Easter in a much more traditional sense: through crucifixion re-enactments. This annual celebration of the death of Christ merges traditions of the Catholic Church with Filipino folk superstitions. So why do Filipinos go against the church wishes to emulate the crucifixion when religion is clearly a major role in their lives? Many of the people participate for penance, others as a sign of sacrifice for their prayers to God, some to honor their vow they made to themselves and God, and others just for the experience whilst the church objects and cry out in objections of corporal punishment.

Unfortunately for the church, tradition trumps the advice of the bishop and church leaders annually. Months before the scheduled re-enactments of the crucifixion begins, many of the participants will start forging their own three-inch, stainless steel nails (as seen from the photo on the on the bottom left, above, taken in 2011). The nails appear to frame the mans face whose eyes looked glazed over and his overall appearance to be burdened with years of suffering. The points of the nails show the sharpness of the object, exposing the mans tolerance for physical discomfort. The photo taken by Erik de Castro, captured the devotion and the mans grub work for his chance to show his God his faith through his own crucifixion during Good Friday. In the early morning of Good Friday, thousands of people in the Philippines get ready for the celebration by first attending church then going home to cook a feast while a few hundred people start to get ready for the parade before the crucifixion.

During this time, many local and foreign tourists start lining the streets, making the religious ritual into more of a gimmick, which seems to raise tourism. At around mid-day, the participants start their journey through the towns and cities to the crucifixion site. Participants will wear white and will whip their backs (as seen in the photo on the right) for every sin they have performed throughout the year. These worshipers will not only whip themselves with bamboo and rope but wear crowns of thorns on their heads”made of barbwire, as shown in the photo below and walk barefoot to the sacred ground where the crucifixion portrayals come alive. The photo above shows the beauty of unison through the color of pants and the contrast of the blood, the symmetrical lines the men are in, and the whips going back and forth during the infliction of pain for sins. If you look closer, one mans back is not nearly as bloody as the rest rendering us to question if he doesnt have as many sins or if he is trying to cheat pain and scarring by not whipping himself with as much force as the others.

In the course of an interview with a twenty-sixth year veteran of the ritual, Arturo Bating, a faith leader in his community, has stated that he does the annual ritual because it was a vow [he] had made to God so that He will spare [his] family from sickness. While another twenty-sixth year veteran, Ruben Enaje, stated that he started engaging in the crucifixion ceremony because he believes that God was watching over him when he survived after falling from a building during work. Countless other devotees participate for reasons of atoning for sins or to pray for the sick or a better life or give thanks for what they believe were miracles. From these veterans, we can understand how these folk superstitions ties in with the traditions of the Catholic Church. But why does the Catholic Church object to a tradition of crucifixion re-enactments? Some like Amparo Santos, meanwhile, believe: It was not my will, it was Gods will¦ and claiming to have received divine messages while hanging on the cross.

But many church leaders are unconvinced; which is somewhat ironic for them being men of the Church and where belief and faith in the divine supernatural is part of their job description. Church leaders like Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Pampanga encourage the meditation of Christs death rather than the self-flagellation and crucifixions expatiating that the practices are an imperfect imitation with doubtful theological and social significance. Bishop David also states that most of those who get themselves crucified or those who hurt themselves are the un-churched. In other words, the Bishop is saying that the people who are most likely to participate in emulating crucifixions are the baptized Catholic people who hardly attend church services, which seem to be an unfair way to perceive the Catholic devotees.

In final consideration, nearing the end of the parade and coming to the crucifixion site, a multitude of on-lookers gasp and hold their breaths while they admire the participants go through the agonizing torture of nails through their palms and feet while wearing a crown of thorns. What we can take away from the two photos above, is that women, although quite uncommon, can too be seen participating in the traditional crucifixion. The photo on the left shows more of how the Filipino tradition is becoming more gimmicky to attract tourists by the helpers dressed in costumes as Roman soldiers, while the image on the right, shows more of the traditional ritual, where people come together to help crucify the people wanting the experience or doing it for a reason entirely their own. While church leaders continue to object, we can see that tradition will outrival the advice of the Church to end crucifixion re-enactments.

Works Cited
AFP. Filipino fanatics re-enact crucifixion for Good Friday. 6 April 2012. 15 January 2013 . Bernardino Balabo, Julian Labores and Djay Lazaro. Tradition Trumps Church Teachings. 4 April 2011. 14 January 2013 . Press, Associated. 17 crucified in Philippines in Good Friday re-enactment. 6 April 2012. Chicago Sun-Times. 15 January 2013 . Press, Assoicated. Philippine Worshippers Endure Crucifixion for Good Friday. 21 March 2008. Fox News. 14 January 2013 .

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