Lenten Schedule 2023 at National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians
Lent is a 40-day special season in the Catholic and other Christian calendars, which is marked by prayer, fasting, abstinence, and almsgiving.
It begins on Ash Wednesday when ashes are dabbed on the foreheads of the faithful, as a reminder that all of us come from dust and to dust we shall return.
Lent is the solemn Christian religious season in the liturgical year commemorating the 40 days Jesus Christ spent fasting in the wilderness and enduring temptation by Satan, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry . Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting , reflection and prayers, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.
The Lenten Schedule for 2023 at the National Shrine of mary Help of Chrisitians summarizes the continuing church traditions during Lent.
Imposition of Ash
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday when Catholics and many other Christians have ashes applied on their foreheads in the shape of a cross which symbolize penance, mourning and mortality. Ashes are made from burning old palaspas or palms from previous Palm Sundays. People wear the ashes throughout the day to publicly express their faith and penance.
It is applied by a priest during the mass saying : “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Many choose to keep it on all day.
From Philippine News Agency
Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday, is the final Sunday of Lent and the start of the Holy Week. It is the day when the faithful remember and celebrate the triumphant arrival of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem as Savior and King. In the Philippines, Filipinos visit the church to attend the Palm Sunday Mass and also have their woven palm fronds or palapas blessed by the priest. Waving palm leaves upon the priest’s entry to the church is a customary practice and a reenactment of Jesus’s entry to Jerusalem.
Pangilin/pangingilin is often translated as abstinence, fasting and sacrifice (as found in the internet). In our family and my hometown in Southern Tagalog, pangilin/pangingilin means keeping the holy days holy which may involve abstinence, fasting , sacrifice, praying or simply being quiet, reflecting on the passion of Christ , of faith. It is deference or respect borne of faith. ( See my post Pangilin for the complete write-up)
As part of remembering the sacrifices that Jesus did for mankind, the Catholic Church observes the discipline of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In addition , Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence. People abstain from eating meat specifically or fast from food in general. The Church defines this as “one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity.”
From GMA News
This is a Filipino tradition that refers to activities undertaken for penance. seen during Holy Week, like self-flagellation and other physical sufferings . Self-flagellation is discouraged by the church but some devotees still do it. In modern times, penitence can take the form of abstaining from some activities like gossiping, social media, going to the movies , etc.
During Holy Week in the Philippines, devout Catholics read the Pasyon either individually or in a community or group called the “pabasa” by constantly chanting the “Pasyong Mahal,” a 16th-century epic poem narrating the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. ( See also my related post “Pabasa Ng Pasyon sa New York)
The Seven Churches Visitation or commonly known as “Visita Iglesia” is a Lenten tradition that dates back to the 1500s. Considered to be one of the most common practices when remembering Christ’s passion, Filipino Catholics visit seven churches on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
Way Of The Cross
From National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians
The Way of the Cross , also called Stations of the Cross is a traditional devotion in honor of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
The Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross consist of a series of 14 stations/events in the Passion of Christ as follows: (1) Jesus is condemned to death, (2) he is made to bear his cross, (3) he falls the first time, (4) he meets his mother, (5) Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross, (6) Veronica wipes Jesus’ face, (7) he falls the second time, (8) the women of Jerusalem weep over Jesus, (9) he falls the third time, (10) he is stripped of his garments, (11) he is nailed to the cross, (12) he dies on the cross, (13) he is taken down from the cross, and (14) he is placed in the tomb.
From Phili.Daily Inquirer
Senakulo was derived from the Spanish word cenáculo which means the “place where Jesus Christ celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples.” In the Philippines, it’s already part of the Lenten tradition to stage a Senakulo, a play depicting the life and passion of Jesus Christ.
From Herencia Lipena
Processions are held on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday. The Santo Entierro followed by the Mater Dolorosa procession concludes the activities for Good Friday.
Pagbabasbas Ng Apoy on Black Saturday
The Easter vigil begins with the Tribute to the Light. This is done in a place outside the church. A fire is lit and from its fire the Paschal Candle or Cirio Pascual is lit. The priest will bless the fire. This fire will be the source of flame for the candles brought by mass attendees as everyone entered the church.
For some Filipino churches, it is customary to turn off the lights until the singing of Glory to God, because according to the old tradition, the lights will not be lit while the Old Testament is being read – since Christ is not yet there. Then lights are turned on when Easter is proclaimed.
“Salubong” on Easter Sunday Morning
From GMA Network
Salubong is one of the most common religious traditions in the Philippines that happens during the early morning , around 5 a.m. of Easter Sunday. In two separate processions, men carry the statue of the Christ while women accompany the image of sorrowful Mary that is covered in a black mourning dress. The said ritual depicts the reunion of the risen Christ with his mother. A child dressed as an angel is usually part of the scene when the two statues meet.
Easter Day Celebration
People go to church, hear mass, the family gather for lunch or lunch out. Businesses have brought the Easter egg custom but after the kids participate in the hunt, the family get together, not the grand reunions usually held during the Christmas season but usually of the immediate family.