Holy Week: Biggest Week at the Shrine

This week is Holy Week. Holy Week is the last week of Lent.

In the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Holy Week is the biggest week of the year. Throughout the Holy Week celebrations thousands of devotees will flock to the shrine every day of the Holy Week. Many devotees will attend the liturgical services of the Holy Week at the shrine. The highlight of these liturgical services is the Paschal Triduum. Paschal Triduum which is also called Easter Triduum, Holy Triduum, or The Three Days is the most important liturgy in the Catholic Church.   The liturgy of these three days consists of: Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion and the Holy Saturday evening of Easter Vigil.

For many of the devotees, the most attended day of the the Holy Week is Good Friday. This reflects Filipino easy identification with Christ suffering and pain.  Filipinos have suffered for so long time that the ordinary Filipino is called Juan de la Cruz, i.e., John of the cross. No wonder, two of the most popular icons of Christ amongst Filipinos are the Nazareno and the Santo Entierro – both icons depict Christ’s suffering and death.

Fr. Ferdinand R. Santos once commented that the Philippine Holy Week is world-famous, not for its piety, but for its bloody flagellants and actual crucifixions that identify with pain in its most literal and physical extreme. Filipino religiosity can make suffering appear as an end in itself. This is a far cry from the liturgy of the triduum which conveys that the passion of Jesus doesn’t end in suffering but leads inexorably to the resurrection.

Santos warns that detached from the resurrection, the suffering and death of Christ becomes a tragedy. Worse, it does tremendous violence to the innate human capacity to rise above defeat.