Albert Francis E. Domingo, MD

my flight of ideas

Holy Week and Jose Rizal

Posted on | March 25, 2005 | No Comments

I just came home from a rather long procession with the carosa of the Santo Entierro, or dead Christ. It’s a Good Friday after all, and Roman Catholic liturgical services on this solemn day are restricted to group prayers for lent and the afternoon Veneration of the Cross.

It’s been a long time since I participated in full in such ceremonies, in part because of my prior moral issues with the former Parish priest. (No, it’s nothing like the US altarboy scandals, mind you!) This year’s lenten season is the first of our Parish under a new pastor, and the who’s who socialite-churchgoers were frantically scrambling for roles to play in the liturgy.

The solemnity of the occasion aside, I could not resist but have a feel of the political tension surrounding the Parish figures acting out their “assignments” on this hot afternoon. The lay ministers were assembling very much like a band of brothers gone old, while the mother butlers in charge of physical arrangements were moving about fixing the altar. Lectors and commentators were rehearsing the Passion of Our Lord – today’s Gospel reading – in a corner of the sacristy (backstage, if you will).
I decided to take on my fifteen-year role as a sacristan, or acolyte/altar boy. Hey, I wasn’t alone – it wasn’t only I who stood there six feet with stubble and all at 22 years of age. Two more “seniors” were with me – and both of them are older by 2-3 years.

The act of everyone going about with tension due to an eagerness to please the new pastor was really interesting to watch. Everyone wanted the ceremony to be snappy – us included – and that meant consulting the new Parish priest more than once or twice.

I glanced around – and noticed just who were clinging to the new pastor. There was the brother of a local politician together with his wife (who liked to dip her fingers in as many organizations as possible). There were the usual crowd of old, retired men who happened to be frustrated clergymen (they took masteral units in theology just a few years ago) that chose to mingle with the politician’s brother. And don’t forget the incumbent official – yes, our Congressman was there in full political garb (does he ever change from his purple attire?) shaking the hands of whoever would be along his path.

And I thought it was only in Jose Rizal’s Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo eras that scenes like the above prevailed.

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