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It’s become one of the oddest TV spectacles for general viewers in the West on Good Friday: scores of Filipinos hanging from crosses in imitation of Jesus. And they use real nails too.
Self-crucifixion and other extreme forms of penance like flagellation have been popular Holy Week devotions in the Philippines for years, but this year, Catholic bishops in the country are urging devotees to give to the poor instead of inflicting pain on themselves.
“If you want to truly make a good Holy Week, love much, love more, give to the poor,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the bishops’ conference.
“What makes these days holy? Not self-inflicted pain. Not publicized pious devotion. Not daydreaming meditation,” said Archbishop Villegas during Palm Sunday observance March 20. “What makes this week holy is the immeasurable, unequaled love that Christ poured into these days.”
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila called on the faithful “to bring back mercy” during the observance of Holy Week.
“Where is compassion? Where is mercy?” Cardinal Tagle said in his Palm Sunday homily at Manila Cathedral. “Trust in God” was the “secret of [Jesus’] silent mercy and compassion even to an enemy.”
The cardinal said the problem in the world today is people “rely on money, weapon, private armies, connections.”
“If we continue to rely on these things, the more we become less merciful. You will use all of that even if it will hurt other people.”
He said the call to being merciful is very significant not only during Holy Week but also during the observance of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
This article was adapted from UCANews.com and is used with permission.