Not just in here in Quiapo, but in all the churches around the world, Holy week is the one of the most important celebration which is observed by the faithful Catholics. This is the climax of our Lenten penitence and prayer were we reflect on the vindicating act of our Lord, the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno , the Son of God, who died on the cross for our salvation. By His passion, death and resurection. He saved and liberated us from our sins and from slavery and made us authentic children of God.
The Holy week celebration begins on a Sunday which we relive the triumphant entry of our Lord on Jerusalem. We call it Palm Sunday or Domingo de Ramos. The rites begins by the blessing and procession of palms carried by the presider and along with the community of faithful from Plaza Miranda at 4:30AM. At this moment the priest reads the Gospel where Jesus prepares with His disciples by looking for a colt donkey. Jesus asked them to take it and rode the animal entering Jerusalem. Just like the people during the time of Jesus, the community waved their palms as a sign of welcoming Jesus as King in our hearts and rejoice for the things done by Christ on us, while palms are being sprinkled by holy water as a sign of blessing. After the procession to the sanctuary, the opening prayer is said, the Passion of our Lord is to read on the Gospel after the readings from Holy Scriptures related to the suffering of our Lord. That’s why this celebration is also called Passion Sunday because this week we begin to look and reflect on the suffering done to our Lord Jesus Nazareno, Irony Sunday perhaps, because as of the moment the people are praising Christ as King but little do they know that on Friday of the same week, the ones waving the palms will also be the ones who will hurl insults and mockery full of sarcasm to Christ.
On the succeeding days of Holy Week, from Holy Monday to Spy Wednesday, the Pabasa begins at 3:00PM at Plaza Miranda were the devotees, lay servant of our parish, sings and chants the story of creation until the Passion story of our Lord . On this way we meditate on how good our God is, how HE moves in our life, how HE is with us until the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to redeem us.
During Spy Wednesday, after the Pabasa, at 7:00PM spearheaded by the Parish Youth Ministry, the church presents the role play called Senakulo. This is the dramatization on the life of Jesus from the moment of the Last supper until His death and resurrection. That’s why it’s called Senakulo form the word “cenacle “which means “the upper room” where the apostles ate the last supper with the Lord.
At the last days of the said week, the Church focuses on a three-day liturgical celebration called “Paschal Triduum” – these are the days where we commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord. On the Holy Thursday morning, all priests under of the Archdiocese of Manila gathers at Manila Cathedral and at 6:00AM they celebrate the Chrism Mass. Chrism, meaning holy oil, an oil used to during in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy orders to anoint its recipients. On this Holy Mass all the priest lead by the Archbishop, the chrism oil is consecrated and blessed to be used on the Sacraments. Second, during this Holy Mass they renew the vows of all clergy to be faithful and to exercise their duty and commitment as a priests designated on their respective parishes and community. Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Holy Order on the first Holy Thursday night during the last supper where He also instituted the Holy Eucharist. He said “Do this in remembrance of me”, He also commanded them to “love one another” and gave them the example to be fellow servants in service of others. This is why the Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday from the word “Mandatum” which mean “Command/Law”. At 5:00PM the church start the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. During this Holy Mass, we commemorate the washing of the feet. The parish priest who portrays Jesus during the rite, washes and kisses the feet of twelve people from all walks of life who were chosen by the formation ministry to personify the twelve apostles. The Holy Mass is not ended by a sign of the cross but by the reposing of the Blessed Sacrament on a place called altar of repose where the faithful could pray on the Blessed Sacrament whole night. It starts at 7:00PM, where the faithful could visit the Blessed Sacrament in different churches called “Visita Iglesia”. During this night, prayers and vigils are derived from the night when our Lord Jesus Christ who is full of sorrow asked His disciples to “Watch and pray for one hour that they may not undergo to a test.” This reminds us to accompany Jesus on that sorrowful night, the night when He was betrayed and arrested. Through prayers and deep contemplations we gain strength to accompany Jesus during this time. The vigil and Visita Iglesia ends at 12 midnight. At 2:00AM, starts the devotional procession of the Black Nazarene, led by Hijos Del Nazarenos and the faithful “Mamamasan.”
The whole Good Friday morning procession reminds the bitterness of the passion of Christ, from the carrying of His cross until the three painful hours being crucified at the cross and up to His death. While the other people partake on the procession, there is no Mass Celebrated at the church, but the faithful could participate on prayers that starts at the 6AM, the stations of the cross and the chaplet of Mercy are recited. The procession would arrive before the 12noon for this hour starts the reflection on the seven last words of our Lord on His crucifixion which is also known as the “Siete Palabras.” This prayer and reflection is led by priests who gives reflection on each of the seven words said by our Lord while on Crucified on the Cross, each word is followed by a prayer and the choir sings of a song which helps the faithful to better understand the prayer and reflection to the words of Christ. At the strike of three o’clock PM, after the Prayer to the Divine Mercy, the Liturgy for the Passion of the Lord begins with a silent procession. There are three main parts of this Liturgy; first is the readings on the Word of God related on the suffering of Christ, particularly the Passion narrative on the Gospel and general intercessions and prayers for the faithful, second is the veneration or kissing of the cross by which the Christ gained victory to over sin and death. And last, the Communion of Sacred host from the altar of repost. After this liturgy will start the procession of the burial of Christ also known the “Santo Entiero” and the sorrowful Mother or called “Mater Dolorosa”. It reminds us to be like the Blessed Mother, Mary, the mother of Jesus who stood at the foot of the cross we also accompanied Jesus with a living faith even on the verge of His Death and burial. And also, we pray that we be accompanied by the Same Christ on the time of our own sufferings and death. And that Mary, our mother just like to Jesus, she will also pray and accompany us to the kingdom, when the time comes for us to follow Him. The vigil, prayer and veneration to the Santo Entiero with the Mater Dolorosa will continue until Saturday morning.
There is no Holy Mass at Black Saturday, only Morning Prayers and Chaplet of Mercy. The Church continues to meditate on the death of our Lord and awaits hopefully on the promised resurrection. Until 9:00PM, the Church then will celebrate the Easter Vigil. The celebration starts by the Blessing of Fire followed by the procession of the lighted Paschal candle, symbol of Risen Christ who conquered death and darkness. Then the priests declares the resurrection of our Lord by singing the Exultet. The story of creation and salvation history is narrated by the readings, followed by psalms and the Gospel. Baptism Rite for the catechumenate, and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist follows the homily. After the Holy Mass the procession of “Salubong” will began at 12 midnight. The “salubong” is the enactment scene of the Risen Lord and the Blessed Mother having seen/encountered one another on the way. It symbolizes the joy of the resurrection given by Christ to the Church which represented by the removal the black veil covering the face of the Blessed Mother.
The Easter Sunday resumes with the regular Sundays schedule of the Holy Mass.
May through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno be our light and mercy, deliver us from evil and lead us to eternal life..