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Bishops to Catholics: Confess, pray, meditate during Holy Week

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Go to confession, pray, and meditate on the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was the advice of Catholic bishops to Filipinos as the Easter Triduum -- the period from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday -- begins. The Easter Triduum (also known as Paschal Triduum) begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. It remembers the passion and death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday. For Catholics, Holy Week is a special time for repentance and going back to God. In an article on the news site of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez urged Catholics to live a simpler life. "Extravagance would not add meaning to the Holy Week," Gutierrez said. On Holy Wednesday, Father Abundo "Jay-ar" Babor, Jr. of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart based in Quezon City said in an interview with GMA News Online that the "Last Supper" celebration on Holy Thursday "is essentially the beginning of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord." The "Last Supper" refers to the biblical account of the supper or meal that Jesus Christ had with his 12 apostles on the eve of His scourging, crucifixion, and death. During the Last Supper, Jesus washed His disciples' feet, an act of humility that is reenacted during the Mass of the Lord's Supper every Holy Thursday. According to the bible, at this Supper, Jesus also gave bread and wine to his disciples, which Catholics consider to be the institution of the "Holy Eucharist" or the "Holy Mass." Self-flagellation or extreme penitence discouraged While Holy Week is a time for repentance, the bishops are also discouraging extreme penitence. Former CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo frowned upon self-flagellation and Good Friday crucifixion by some penitents. Lagdameo said such shows of penance are an "imperfect imitation with doubtful theological and social significance." He said only one crucifixion - that of Jesus Christ - is needed to save mankind. "At best they are personal in motivation and content," he said of the Good Friday crucifixions. A tourist attraction While the Catholic Church frowns on the practice, Good Friday crucifixion, especially in Pampanga province, has become tourist attraction of sorts. Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David admitted a lack of catechesis or teaching could have contributed to the practice of "folk religiosity." "We have to admit humbly that we have not catechized our people enough," said David, who also heads the CBCP Commission on Biblical Apostolate. He said most of those who get themselves crucified or those who hurt themselves until they are bloodied are the "unchurched" or "the type who are baptized but would rarely come to church." However, David said that if these people find meaning in their exaggerated expressions of penance or "panata" and "carry out these practices the way they do many other folk religious practices on their own, who are we to stop them?" - VVP, GMA News
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