Holy Week in the Philippines is a significant religious observance when Filipinos remember Christ’s passion (his suffering and death) and resurrection. The usual Holy Week activities and traditions include Palm Sunday, Fasting and abstinence, pabasa, washing of the feet, Visita Iglesia, Stations of the Cross, Senakulo, Salubong, and more.
At this time, it will be a different kind of Holy Week. All of our usual Holy Week plans and activities were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite this, churches are still able to find innovative ways to stay connected to which is a great help for us to strengthen our faith. Nothing can separate us from His love and from drawing closely to Jesus in His Passion and Death even though we are in a time of practicing social distancing and staying at home.
As Holy Week will be observed online, here are five ways to make it meaningful and personal while on quarantine:
#1 Focus on Your Spiritual Growth
Do something each day to enhance your faith. We usually live our life in setting our goals and reaching it. But as we do it, we tend to overlook how we want to grow spiritually. But it’s not too late! With your desire to know more about God, stay strong with your spiritual disciplines – reading the Bible, praying, and other ways in strengthening your relationship with Him.
#2 Create a Prayer Space
Creating a space for you to sit, relax, reflect, and pray can help you draw your heart and mind to Jesus. See to it that it is a quiet place for you to collect your thoughts and to stay connected. A space to pray matters for this will allow us to readily access our inner stillness to be fully present to God.
#3 Contemplate with the Scripture
Holy Week is a perfect time to contemplate more. Reading your Bible means growing deeper to know Him more and to understand His will for all of us. In reading, you may set-up a guideline for contemplating with Scripture. Here are some guidelines you may use:
- Settling down in your space, wait for few minutes to make yourself relaxed and free from the world’s noises. Have a deep breathing and feel the connection.
- You may jot down your feelings. Any, as long as you can fully release your thoughts. After all, journaling is one good way to collect our thoughts.
- Invite God and notice His presence wholeheartedly.
- Read the daily Scripture passage slowly.
- Highlight the words and phrases that caught your attention.
- By remembering it, feel the emotions arising from you. Is it hope? It is sadness? It is fear? Perhaps, memories? Surrender it all to Him.
- Listen to His response. This could be felt by reading the Scripture or with the stirring in your heart.
- In conclusion, pray and thank God for a wonderful, meaningful time together. You may also journal this.
If you are looking for Bible readings, you may click any in the list:
#4 Attend Live-Stream Masses
Anyone with gadgets can tune in with live-stream masses. Even though we are apart, there are still many ways in these uncertain times to feel like we’re all together, brothers and sisters in Christ, to celebrate. For live streams, you may check the list of online masses in CBCPNews.
As for the Visita Iglesia, we have an E-Visita Iglesia for you.
#5 Commit to Prayer and Fasting
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” – Luke 5:16
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” – Mark 1:35
Jesus, Himself, prayed and fast when He walked the earth. Prayer and fasting are necessity for us to be able to focus more on God and face Him wholly. This practice benefits us spiritually to include a stronger sense of connection with Him. This can also make you less self-centered, freeing yourself from the thoughts and ideas that confine you.
If you have kids at home, encourage them to understand the importance of having a time together with God. Make if more meaningful to them by teaching at first little ways that will help grow faith, kindness, and empathy in their young hearts. With this, it is not just only you who’s growing spiritually but also the people around you.
This year, as we observe Holy Week in our homes and connect virtually, we can wait to feel again the warmth of hugs and see the sweet smiles of our friends and churchmates for this pandemic won’t last forever. It’s just like we’re experiencing long rains, but do you know what comes after it? A rainbow. And do you remember what a rainbow symbolizes? It is God’s love and promise.
READ Genesis 9:12-16:
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:
13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,
15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”