On Good Fridays, my family usually goes out and does the Visita Iglesia. We used do this on Maundy Thursday, but I can’t recall what changed over the years. Today, the streets are mostly deserted. Most people are on their vacations outside Manila (businesses usually close from Thursday until Easter Sunday), while the rest stay here and practice traditional religious rituals. The Holy Week is quite a big thing here, as a very large percent of our population is Catholic.
We went to eight churches. It was only supposed to be seven, but my father was in the mood to drive around. I’m not entirely sure how other people do their visits, but a quick search gave me this:
“Filipinos have introduced variations to the visita. Notably they start the seven-church visits at dawn, ending with the twilight Mass. The first five are devoted to a decade each of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary; the last two, for seven each of the Fourteen Stations of the Cross. Strictly everything must end before midnight, to grieve Christ’s death on Good Friday.”
As for my family, we usually pray the Way of the Cross in our visits this way: two stations of the cross per church (fourteen stations, seven churches). It took us about three hours. This year I was assigned to read the fifth and sixth station. Quite fitting for my life right now, I thought. Then again, I am not religious; haven’t been in a long time.
I know you’ve asked me about God, and my beliefs, and I know it’s taking me a long time to answer. I think it’s because I have a lot to say about it, but also because I have nothing to say. A lot of this is rooted in my personal history and sense of identity—so maybe I’m putting off coming up with answers as I don’t like opening that can of worms.
There’s much about what I do and what I believe in that resembles a ‘coming out’ to my parents—I had to ‘come out’ as a writer, I had to ‘come out’ as agnostic, and so many other things. Each time was always painful. Moreover, I’ve received flak over the years for my ‘non-conformist attitude’. Fence-sitter, yes, I’ve been accused of that. Also: lazy Christian. I’ve learned over the years to refrain from saying ‘spiritual, but not religious’, because I’ve found that a lot of people frown upon this. Mostly they say that I can’t commit to my god, and what kind of existence is that?
My mother thinks I’ve lost my way. I want to say: I desire spiritual growth, more than anything. But I want it to be my choice: to go where I want to, to believe what I want to. Not just blindly follow, without asking questions.
Anyway, enough talk. Here are some photos I took:
I hope you have a great weekend ahead.
Good night, M.