I was never the one who went away to vacations during Holy Week. Ever since I could remember, I was always at home. Our families had specific Holy Week traditions: mass on Holy Thursday, Bisita Iglesia ((Doing stations of the cross by visiting 14 churches)) during Good Friday followed by lunch, then we stay at home for the next days until we go to Easter Sunday mass.
Ever since I graduated from college, I’ve made Good Friday afternoon a time to pray on my own. I usually stay in my room, read, and then wait for 3:00 pm. Once the time comes, I open up my Bible, pray and reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice. I usually end up crying when I try to comprehend how much it all meant and cost. Suffice to say, after a very inspiring Palm Sunday mass, I found myself praying for a meaningful and different Holy Week this year. Other than the idea of a long vacation from work, I was also looking forward to a serious Good Friday prayer time.
It’s amazing how easy I forget the things I pray for, especially when they’re not prayers of intention. :)
I didn’t exactly forget my prayer last week actually. But I held on and was anxious to follow the schedule I set for myself last Friday: Bisita Iglesia, then lunch and my 3:00 pm prayer time. I had my readings ready, my Holy Week playlist ready, my journal and a couple of hankies (because I know I was going to be crying) and even an idea of a text message to send to friends after it. It was my personal time with God to praise and thank Him for giving Jesus to us, and there was nothing else I wanted to do more than that.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Holy, even.
But of course, God had other plans.
Right after we had our vigil at our parish after the Holy Thursday mass, my mom mentioned something about the this communion thing at our parish on Friday. I thought nothing of it, thinking that it would be forgotten the next day. After our lunch, we headed home and I got myself ready…then my mom announced that we will be going to our parish at 3:00pm to attend this reading and communion.
What? But what about my 3:00 pm Good Friday prayer time? What time would that finish? What is this thing we are attending, anyway? We have never even attended that. Aren’t churches normally empty and closed (unless there’s a recollection or Seven Last Words thing) during Good Friday?
I could have said no and insisted to stay at home then so we could have our own prayer times instead of attending whatever it is our parish has invented to do that afternoon…but I wasn’t like that. I had always been the one “forced” to attend recollections and church events which I thought was a drag at first but end up liking in the end (that’s how I got into YFC haha). Because of that, I found myself at our parish that Good Friday afternoon, standing up because there were no more seats, in the summer heat.
Needless to say, I was indignant of the entire thing. I could not wait for everything to be over. The reading was long, the homily was long (typical of our parish priest), the prayers were long and the veneration of th cross was excruciatingly long. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. At the same time, I was asking God to help me appreciate the entire thing, if only for my mom joy.
However, this is one of those times that whatever I pray, it doesn’t seem to be working. Where I really, really wanted to be was in my room, with my Bible and journal and iPod, in my own prayer time. Not in this hot church, which I wasn’t expecting to be in at least until Sunday.
Imagine the horror I felt when my mom said we’ll also be joining the procession after. :|
We got home around seven that night and I was just too exhausted to do anything else. I was also too pissed at how all my plans for that day were ruined, and how I didn’t feel like praying anymore because I missed 3:00 pm. How can I feel Jesus’ death through prayer when I don’t pray at the exact hour of His death?
With all that complaining, I felt guilty, too. I really wanted to appreciate everything we did earlier, and I tried. Really, I did. There were some moments when I felt like what I was doing was actually worth it, but then I’d think of my original plans and I’d get annoyed again…I felt like such a crummy Catholic, because I couldn’t find it in me to get value in what I attended and all I could think of was all of that is really just an invented event, and is not as important as my missed prayer time.
I finally got to sit down and pray after I took a shower late that night, and I didn’t know where to start. I was disturbed, guilty at how I felt and all that I thought, that it didn’t feel right to go into the presence of God. How do I start talking to God when all I could think of was how bad the day turned out for me, and how bad I also felt for feeling bad about it?
Maybe this is what Peter must have felt like after that night that the fire. You know, when Jesus was taken away, and then he followed and some people asked him if he was with Jesus and he denied it? Just a few hours after declaring his loyalty to Jesus, he denies him not once, but three times. And what’s worse, he was warned of it!
In all my eagerness to connect with God this past week, I forgot to let Him move. I wanted to do what I was used to doing, what I have done for the past few years. I thought that was enough to make my Holy Week different and meaningful, but God thought otherwise. As I listened to Lifeteen’s Good Friday podcast that night, I found myself humbled in a huge way. Not because what we attended were real Catholic traditions (but I did feel embarrassed about questioning that while I was there), but because of these lines:
Good Friday…is a great reminder, “How far am I willing to sacrifice? How far am I willing to go, God?” And you can show it in your actions…by doing things different…This is a day that it’s okay to be uncomfortable. It reminds us that everyday it’s okay to be uncomfortable.
Well, I’m uncomfortable, all right. I’m sure Peter was more uncomfortable that Friday night.
But you know what’s really amazing?
â€œBut go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.â€
– Mark 16:7 (emphasis mine)
It’s amazing that even after what Peter did that night, Jesus made sure that Peter knew He was back that Easter Sunday. How about that for a second chance? No wonder Peter became who he was after that.
In the same way that Peter got his second chance, I believe that this Easter is another chance for me too. :)
Most certainly for everyone else. :)
Yeah, it’s been a different Holy Week.
Alleluia! Jesus has risen indeed!