Cebu’s Archbishop calls for prayers and confession not crucifixions and floggings

Abp. Jose Serofia Palma to the faithful: "Go on vacation after Holy Week". In several regions, Good Friday is celebrated with real life "reproductions" of the Calvary of Christ. In San Fernando, (Pampanga), a 58-year-old painter will climb on the cross for the 33rd time.


Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - No nails, but prayers and confession: on the occasion of Holy Week, the Archbishop of Cebu (in central Visayas) is asking Catholics to pursue "spiritual renewal by avoiding extreme penitential practices, such as crucifixion or flogging".

In a statement released two days ago, Msgr. Jose Serofia Palma (photo 2) also invites the faithful to reflect and participate in religious activities during Holy Week and not go on vacation. "This period - he says - is the best time to renew one’s relationship with God and reflect on the sacrifice and love of the Lord. There are 52 weeks in a year, and only one week when we are called to commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord".

“The Holy Week is supposed to be the most somber period of the liturgical calendar leading up to the joy of Easter Sunday. If If you intend to go on vacation, please do it after the Holy Week. I invite you to instead take part in various Church activities to further appreciate God’s love, "concludes the prelate.

In several regions of the Philippines, Good Friday is celebrated by groups of faithful who organize real "reproductions" of the Calvary of Christ. From the scourging to the crucifixion, it is all real: to interpret Christ, different faithful pay out considerable amounts to the organizers of the various events, which have never received the support of the local Church.

In San Fernando, capital of the province of Pampanga (central Luzon region), a 58-year-old painter will climb the cross for the 33rd time. Ruben Enaje (photo 1) will play the part of Jesus in the show "Via Crucis". The event takes place in the streets of the San Pedro Cutud district every Good Friday, when more than 10 thousand "mandarame" (flagellants) pour into the local streets.

Enaje was crucified for the first time in 1986, as thanks to God for surviving the fall from a three-story building in 1985 unscathed. For Enaje, what began as a nine-year pledge turned into an offer of sacrifice. The man repeated the ritual even in the following nine years, to ask for the recovery of his daughter Ejay from asthma; he underwent nine other crucifixions for the healing of his wife Juanita, who had a painful lump in her jaw. Both women have recovered.

After completing a total of 27 years, Enaje has decided to extend the sacrifice for another six. The man claims to bear the burden "for the good of the community". Each year, a pair of 7.6 cm long nails pierce the palms of his hands. The nail on the feet is 15.6cm long, enough to pierce both feet. "I tell the Lord that this is my way of joining him in pain, but I know that I cannot compare my suffering to the torture and humiliation he suffered," he concludes.

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