In a matter of a few days, the Holy Week will begin. In these days of solemnity, the world will once more see sights such as not seen in other times of the year. But one of the most curious of these is the way in which some people seek the forgiveness of sins: self-punishment – men flogging themselves, some beating themselves with nun-chucks, some walking around with the cross, some crawling on their bare chest on the streets, and even some volunteering to act as Christ or one of the two other beside Him to be crucified; among others.
Although the practice is not one which is officially endorsed by the Catholic Church, many people keep at it. Some, if not all who do it, believe that it is the only way with which their sins can be forgiven. However, there are risks involved in this method of penitence – physical and spiritual alike.
Physically, it is a fact that these people are giving their lives to chance. Although there’s not been such profound records of fatalities during these events, the risks are evident – from the nails used in the crucifixion to the wounds themselves. The Department of Health itself has issued a warning against these acts. Nevertheless, it is evident, from the preparations being televised, that people choose to be stubborn and not heed the warnings of some people who know better.
However, the greater risk lies in their spiritual being. Why? If these people are doing these things sincerely and to repent their sins and not just for show, we can fairly well say that it is an effort to seek for forgiveness. And, we can fairly well say that they believe in God. Which means that they are missing one very important element: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, King James Version)
Another very sad aspect of this tradition is that it has somewhat started being commercial. The news has stated that this event is one of those that which attracts foreigners to visit the Philippines – most especially, the reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It’s a good thing, though, the the Department of Tourism has explicitly stated that they have not done anything to promote this event for tourism in the Philippines.
We all know that reenactments of various events in the Bible are some of the most well-kept traditions of Catholicism in the Philippines. And a reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ is one of the most visited. However, these things need not pose danger and we should always consider the implications and results of all the things we do. In the aspect of commercialism, one can only hope that it will be kept like so, even decline, and not reach a point when things like these, which are supposedly Holy Traditions, will not end up being nothing more than an amusement for people.