Saturday, March 19, 2011

Introduction

The ONLINE VISITA IGLESIA was started by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines last 2010 for those who are sick and those Filipinos residing abroad such as the Overseas Filipino Workers. We are continuing such online ministry. We are providing two routes: Manila and Bulacan. May this religious tradition lead us to deeper faith in GOD.

Visita Iglesia: History, Tradition and Significance

Bacolor, Pampanga
by Rev.Fr.Louie Coronel, OP


Visita Iglesia (Spanish for "Church Visit") is a Holy Week devotion among Filipino Roman Catholics of visiting seven or fourteen churches in order to pray and meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ. It commences in the late afternoon or early evening of Holy Thursday after the Mass of the Last Supper when the Blessed Sacrament is already reserved at the Altar of Repose for adoration inside the Church until midnight when it is concluded without solemnity since liturgically, the day of the Lord's Passion has already begun[1]


This practice which became a tradition was evidently influenced by the Spaniards who colonized the Philippines for nearly four centuries and introduced the Roman Catholic faith. It was thought that the Augustinian friars, the pioneer missionaries of the Philippines who arrived in 1565, propagated this devotion. They were inspired by their fellow Augustinian St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) who established a confraternity in 1548 to minister the needs of thousands of poor pilgrims who flock to Rome, especially during the jubilee years[2]; and established in 1559 the visitation of the seven traditional pilgrim churches in Rome as a form of penance.[3] The circuit of seven Churches is traditionally composed of St. John Lateran, St. Peter, St. Mary Major, St. Paul outside the Walls, St. Lawrence outside the Walls, Holy Cross in Jerusalem, and St. Sebastian outside the Walls. Pope John Paul II replaced St. Sebastian with the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Divine Love for the jubilee year of 2000. 

The Visita Iglesia is based on the Biblical accounts of the first sorrowful mystery, the Agony in the Garden. After the Last Supper when Jesus Christ instituted the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Order, Jesus went to a place called Gethsemane to pray where He felt sorrow and distress. He asked His apostles Peter, James and John to remain and keep vigil with Him but they fell asleep thrice[4]. Thereafter, Judas Iscariot kissed Jesus as a sign of his betrayal which is properly the beginning of the Lord's passion. Likewise, in the practice of Visita Iglesia, Jesus is asking the faithful to remain, keep vigil and accompany Him in the sufferings that is taking place.

There is no prescribed prayer for the Visita Iglesia since it is not essentially a part of the liturgy but a popular piety. Some would accompany their visit with their personal prayers and the meditation of the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Others would pray the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross), a tradition taught by the Franciscan, two stations in one Church. Still, others have expanded the number of churches into fourteen with one station in each church. It is also recommended to include the poor and suffering fellowmen in our intentions.

There is no prescribed number of Churches to be visited either. Traditionally, it is seven in number which signifies completeness and perfection while a contemporary and more penitential fourteen churches can also be practiced. Nevertheless, the number of churches does not matter because what’s important is that the faithful prays intently and fervently from the heart. 

This practice is commendable because it makes the vigil of the reserved Blessed Sacrament inviting and it deepens the prayer and contemplation on the passion of Christ. It is not only a way for family members to bond but also to cultivate in each member the spirit of prayer and penance.

The Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday is an austere solemn conservation of the Body of Christ for the community of the faithful which takes part in the liturgy of Good Friday and for the viaticum of the infirmed[5]. It is an invitation to silent and prolonged adoration of the wondrous sacrament instituted by Jesus on this day.[6]




[1] Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship, Lettera circolare sulla preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali, 56.
[2] M. Walsh, ed. Butler's Lives of the Saints. (HarperSanFrancisco: New York, 1991), 157.
[3] Cervantes Encyclopaedia, p. 670.
[4] Matthew 26:36-48 (NAB)
[5] Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship, Lettera circolare sulla preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali,55; Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction on Eucharistic cult Eucharisticum mysterium, 49, in AAS 59 (1967) 566-567.
[6] Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, no. 141

Visita Iglesia in Bulacan 7 : National Shrine of Divine Mercy


 NATIONAL SHRINE OF DIVINE MERCY
Marilao, Bulacan






Thirteenth Station : Jesus is removed from the Cross

Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:55, 57-58; 17:22-2 
There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them: “The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day”. And they were greatly distressed.

MEDITATION
Jesus is dead. From his heart, pierced by the lance of the Roman soldier, flow blood and water: a mysterious image of the stream of the sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, by which the Church is constantly reborn from the opened heart of the Lord. Jesus’ legs are not broken, like those of the two men crucified with him. He is thus revealed as the true Paschal lamb, not one of whose bones must be broken (cf. Es 12:46). And now, at the end of his sufferings, it is clear that, for all the dismay which filled men’s hearts, for all the power of hatred and cowardice, he was never alone. There are faithful ones who remain with him. Under the Cross stand Mary, his Mother, the sister of his Mother, Mary, Mary Magdalen and the disciple whom he loved. A wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, appears on the scene: a rich man is able to pass through the eye of a needle, for God has given him the grace. He buries Jesus in his own empty tomb, in a garden. At Jesus’s burial, the cemetery becomes a garden, the garden from which Adam was cast out when he abandoned the fullness of life, his Creator. The garden tomb symbolizes that the dominion of death is about to end. A member of the Sanhedrin also comes along, Nicodemus, to whom Jesus had proclaimed the mystery of rebirth by water and the Spirit. Even in the Sanhedrin, which decreed his death, there is a believer, someone who knows and recognizes Jesus after his death. In this hour of immense grief, of darkness and despair, the light of hope is mysteriously present. The hidden God continues to be the God of life, ever near. Even in the night of death, the Lord continues to be our Lord and Saviour. The Church of Jesus Christ, his new family, begins to take shape.

PRAYER
Lord, you descended into the darkness of death. But your body is placed in good hands and wrapped in a white shroud (Mt 27:59). Faith has not completely died; the sun has not completely set. How often does it appear that you are asleep? How easy it is for us to step back and say to ourselves: “God is dead”. In the hour of darkness, help us to know that you are still there. Do not abandon us when we are tempted to lose heart. Help us not to leave you alone. Give us the fidelity to withstand moments of confusion and a love ready to embrace you in your utter helplessness, like your Mother, who once more holds you to her breast. Help us, the poor and rich, simple and learned, to look beyond all our fears and prejudices, and to offer you our abilities, our hearts and our time, and thus to prepare a garden for the Resurrection.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.

________________________________________

Fourteenth Station : Jesus is laid on the tomb

Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:59-61 
Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre.

From the Book of Psalms. 16:9-11
My heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay. You show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy, in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

MEDITATION
Jesus, disgraced and mistreated, is honorably buried in a new tomb. Nicodemus brings a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight, which gives off a precious scent. In the Son’s self-offering, as at his anointing in Bethany, we see an “excess” which evokes God’s generous and superabundant love. God offers himself unstintingly. If God’s measure is superabundance, then we for our part should consider nothing too much for God. This is the teaching of Jesus himself, in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:20). But we should also remember the words of Saint Paul, who says that God “through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. We are the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor 2:14ff.). Amid the decay of ideologies, our faith needs once more to be the fragrance which returns us to the path of life. At the very moment of his burial, Jesus’ words are fulfilled: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). Jesus is the grain of wheat which dies. From that lifeless grain of wheat comes forth the great multiplication of bread which will endure until the end of the world. Jesus is the bread of life which can satisfy superabundantly the hunger of all humanity and provide its deepest nourishment. Through his Cross and Resurrection, the eternal Word of God became flesh and bread for us. The mystery of the Eucharist already shines forth in the burial of Jesus.

PRAYER
Lord Jesus Christ, in your burial you have taken on the death of the grain of wheat. You have become the lifeless grain of wheat which produces abundant fruit for every age and for all eternity. From the tomb shines forth in every generation the promise of the grain of wheat which gives rise to the true manna, the Bread of Life, in which you offer us your very self. The eternal Word, through his Incarnation and death, has become a Word which is close to us: you put yourself into our hands and into our hearts, so that your word can grow within us and bear fruit. Through the death of the grain of wheat you give us yourself, so that we too can dare to lose our life in order to find it, so that we too can trust the promise of the grain of wheat. Help us grow in love and veneration for your Eucharistic mystery – to make you, the Bread of heaven, the source of our life. Help us to become your “fragrance”, and to make known in this world the mysterious traces of your life. Like the grain of wheat which rises from the earth, putting forth its stalk and then its ear, you could not remain enclosed in the tomb: the tomb is empty because he – the Father – “did not abandon you to the nether world, nor let your flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:31; Ps 16:10 LXX). No, you did not see corruption. You have risen, and have made a place for our transfigured flesh in the very heart of God. Help us to rejoice in this hope and bring it joyfully to the world. Help us to become witnesses of your resurrection.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.
 
[Make the Sign of the Cross].

Visita Iglesia in Bulacan 6 : Marilao Church

 ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL CHURCH
Marilao, Bulacan



Eleventh Station : Jesus is nailed on the cross

Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:35-42 
And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews”. Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right hand and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying: “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross”. So also the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him, saying:
“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the Cross and we will believe in him”.

MEDITATION
Jesus is nailed to the Cross. The shroud of Turin gives us an idea of the unbelievable cruelty of this procedure. Jesus does not drink the numbing gall offered to him: he deliberately takes upon himself all the pain of the Crucifixion. His whole body is racked; the words of the Psalm have come to pass: “But I am a worm and no man, scorned by men, rejected by the people” (Ps 22:7). “As one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised... surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Is 53:3f.). Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at times of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation, and realize that it is then that we are closest to God. Let us try to see his face in the people we might look down upon. As we stand before the condemned Lord, who did not use his power to come down from the Cross, but endured its suffering to the end, another thought comes to mind. Ignatius of Antioch, a prisoner in chains for his faith in the Lord, praised the Christians of Smyrna for their invincible faith: he says that they were, so to speak, nailed with flesh and blood to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1). Let us nail ourselves to him, resisting the temptation to stand apart, or to join others in mocking him.

PRAYER
Lord Jesus Christ, you let yourself be nailed to the Cross, accepting the terrible cruelty of this suffering, the destruction of your body and your dignity. You allowed yourself to be nailed fast; you did not try to escape or to lessen your suffering. May we never flee from what we are called to do. Help us to remain faithful to you. Help us to unmask the false freedom which would distance us from you. Help us to accept your “binding” freedom, and, “bound” fast to you, to discover true freedom.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.

______________________________________

Twelfth Station : Jesus dies on the cross

Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to John 19:25-27 
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother: “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciples: “Behold your mother!”. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:45-46, 50 
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”,that is: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

MEDITATION
In Greek and Latin, the two international languages of the time, and in Hebrew, the language of the Chosen People, a sign stood above the Cross of Jesus, indicating who he was: the King of the Jews, the promised Son of David. Pilate, the unjust judge, became a prophet despite himself. The kingship of Jesus was proclaimed before all the world. Jesus himself had not accepted the title “Messiah”, because it would have suggested a mistaken, human idea of power and deliverance. Yet now the title can remain publicly displayed above the Crucified Christ. He is indeed the king of the world. Now he is truly “lifted up”. In sinking to the depths he rose to the heights. Now he has radically fulfilled the commandment of love, he has completed the offering of himself, and in this way he is now the revelation of the true God, the God who is love. Now we know who God is. Now we know what true kingship is. Jesus prays Psalm 22, which begins with the words: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 22:2). He takes to himself the whole suffering people of Israel, all of suffering humanity, the drama of God’s darkness, and he makes God present in the very place where he seems definitively vanquished and absent. The Cross of Jesus is a cosmic event. The world is darkened, when the Son of God is given up to death. The earth trembles. And on the Cross, the Church of the Gentiles is born. The Roman centurion understands this, and acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God. From the Cross he triumphs – ever anew. 

PRAYER
Lord Jesus Christ, at the hour of your death the sun was darkened. Ever anew you are being nailed to the Cross. At this present hour of history we are living in God’s darkness. Through your great sufferings and the wickedness of men, the face of God, your face, seems obscured, unrecognizable. And yet, on the Cross, you have revealed yourself. Precisely by being the one who suffers and loves, you are exalted. From the Cross on high you have triumphed. Help us to recognize your face at this hour of darkness and tribulation. Help us to believe in you and to follow you in our hour of darkness and need. Show yourself once more to the world at this hour. Reveal to us your salvation.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.


Visita Iglesia in Bulacan 5 : Bocaue Church

 BOCAUE CHURCH




Ninth : Jesus falls for the third time

Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Book of the Prophet Habakkuk 1:12-13; 2:2-3
Are you not from of old, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? Your eyes are too pure to behold evil, and you cannot look on wrongdoing; why do you look on the treacherous, and are silent when the wicked swallow those more righteous than they? “Write the vision, make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.

MEDITATION
What can the third fall of Jesus under the Cross say to us? We have considered the fall of man in general, and the falling of many Christians away from Christ and into a godless secularism. Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall! All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us (cf. Mt 8: 25).

PRAYER
Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.

_______________________________________


Tenth Station : Jesus clothes are taken away

Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to John. 19:23-24
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another: “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be”. This was to fulfil the Scripture: “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots”.

MEDITATION
Jesus is stripped of his garments. Clothing gives a man his social position; it gives him his place in society, it makes him someone. His public stripping means that Jesus is no longer anything at all, he is simply an outcast, despised by all alike. The moment of the stripping reminds us of the expulsion from Paradise: God’s splendour has fallen away from man, who now stands naked and exposed, unclad and ashamed. And so Jesus once more takes on the condition of fallen man. Stripped of his garments, he reminds us that we have all lost the “first garment” that is God’s splendour. At the foot of the Cross, the soldiers draw lots to divide his paltry possessions, his clothes. The Evangelists describe the scene with words drawn from Psalm 22:19; by doing so they tell us the same thing that Jesus would tell his disciples on the road to Emmaus: that everything takes place “according to the Scriptures”. Nothing is mere coincidence; everything that happens is contained in the Word of God and sustained by his divine plan. The Lord passes through all the stages and steps of man’s fall from grace, yet each of these steps, for all its bitterness, becomes a step towards our redemption: this is how he carries home the lost sheep. Let us not forget that John says that lots were drawn for Jesus’s tunic, “woven without seam from top to bottom” (Jn 19:23). We may consider this as a reference to the High Priest’s robe, which was “woven from a single thread”, without stitching (Fl. Josephus, a III, 161). For he, the Crucified One, is the true High Priest.

PRAYER
Lord Jesus, you were stripped of your garments, exposed to shame, cast out of society. You took upon yourself the shame of Adam, and you healed it. You also take upon yourself the sufferings and the needs of the poor, the outcasts of our world. And in this very way you fulfil the words of the prophets. This is how you bring meaning into apparent meaninglessness. This is how you make us realize that your Father holds you, us, and the whole world in his hands. Give us a profound respect for man at every stage of his existence, and in all the situations in which we encounter him. Clothe us in the light of your grace.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.



Visita Iglesia in Bulacan 4 : Balagtas Church

 SAN LORENZO, DEACON AND MARTYR CHURCH (Balagtas, Bulacan)


Seventh Station : Jesus falls for the second time

Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah 12,1
You are righteous, O Lord, when I complain to you. Yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

From the Book of Psalms. 37:1-2, 10-11
Fret not because of the wicked, be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb. Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more, though you look well at his place, he will not be there, but the meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

MEDITATION
The tradition that Jesus fell three times beneath the weight of the Cross evokes the fall of Adam – the state of fallen humanity – and the mystery of Jesus’ own sharing in our fall. Throughout history the fall of man constantly takes on new forms. In his First Letter, Saint John speaks of a threefold fall: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. He thus interprets the fall of man and humanity against the backdrop of the vices of his own time, with all its excesses and perversions. But we can also think, in more recent times, of how a Christianity which has grown weary of faith has abandoned the Lord: the great ideologies, and the banal existence of those who, no longer believing in anything, simply drift through life, have built a new and worse paganism, which in its attempt to do away with God once and for all, have ended up doing away with man. And so man lies fallen in the dust. The Lord bears this burden and falls, over and over again, in order to meet us. He gazes on us, he touches our hearts; he falls in order to raise us up.

PRAYER
Lord Jesus Christ, you have borne all our burdens and you continue to carry us. Our weight has made you fall. Lift us up, for by ourselves we cannot rise from the dust. Free us from the bonds of lust. In place of a heart of stone, give us a heart of flesh, a heart capable of seeing. Lay low the power of ideologies, so that all may see that they are a web of lies. Do not let the wall of materialism become unsurmountable. Make us aware of your presence. Keep us sober and vigilant, capable of resisting the forces of evil. Help us to recognise the spiritual and material needs of others, and to give them the help they need. Lift us up, so that we may lift others up. Give us hope at every moment of darkness, so that we may bring your hope to the world.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.

__________________________________________


Eighth Station : Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Luke. 23:27-29, 31 
A great number of people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said:
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed!’.
For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

MEDITATION
Hearing Jesus reproach the women of Jerusalem who follow him and weep for him ought to make us reflect. How should we understand his words? Are they not directed at a piety which is purely sentimental, one which fails to lead to conversion and living faith? It is no use to lament the sufferings of this world if our life goes on as usual. And so the Lord warns us of the danger in which we find ourselves. He shows us both the seriousness of sin and the seriousness of judgement. Can it be that, despite all our expressions of consternation in the face of evil and innocent suffering, we are all too prepared to trivialize the mystery of evil? Have we accepted only the gentleness and love of God and Jesus, and quietly set aside the word of judgement? “How can God be so concerned with our weaknesses?”, we say. “We are only human!” Yet as we contemplate the sufferings of the Son, we see more clearly the seriousness of sin, and how it needs to be fully atoned if it is to be overcome. Before the image of the suffering Lord, evil can no longer be trivialized. To us too, he says: “Do not weep for me, weep for yourselves... if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”.

PRAYER
Lord, to the weeping women you spoke of repentance and the Day of Judgement, when all of us will stand before your face: before you, the Judge of the world. You call us to leave behind the trivialization of evil, which salves our consciences and allows us to carry on as before. You show us the seriousness of our responsibility, the danger of our being found guilty and without excuse on the Day of Judgement. Grant that we may not simply walk at your side, with nothing to offer other than compassionate words. Convert us and give us new life. Grant that in the end we will not be dry wood, but living branches in you, the true vine, bearing fruit for eternal life (cf.Jn 15:1-10).

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.




Visita Iglesia in Bulacan 3 : Assumption Church

 ASSUMPTION CHURCH
Bulacan, Bulacan




Fifth Station : Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry His cross


Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.


From the Gospel according to Matthew. 27:32; 16:24 
As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross. Jesus told his disciples: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.


MEDITATION
Simon of Cyrene is on his way home, returning from work, when he comes upon the sad procession of those condemned – for him, perhaps, it was a common sight. The soldiers force this rugged man from the country to carry the Cross on his own shoulders. How annoying he must have thought it to be suddenly caught up in the fate of those condemned men! He does what he must do, but reluctantly. Significantly, the Evangelist Mark does not only name him, but also his children, who were evidently known as Christians and as members of that community (cf. Mk 15:21). From this chance encounter, faith was born. The Cyrenian, walking beside Jesus and sharing the burden of the Cross, came to see that it was a grace to be able to accompany him to his crucifixion and to help him. The mystery of Jesus, silent and suffering, touched his heart. Jesus, whose divine love alone can redeem all humanity, wants us to share his Cross so that we can complete what is still lacking in his suffering (cf. Col 1:24). Whenever we show kindness to the suffering, the persecuted and defenceless, and share in their sufferings, we help to carry that same Cross of Jesus. In this way we obtain salvation, and help contribute to the salvation of the world.

PRAYERLord, you opened the eyes and heart of Simon of Cyrene, and you gave him, by his share in your Cross, the grace of faith. Help us to aid our neighbours in need, even when this interferes with our own plans and desires. Help us to realize that it is a grace to be able to share the cross of others and, in this way, know that we are walking with you along the way. Help us to appreciate with joy that, when we share in your suffering and the sufferings of this world, we become servants of salvation and are able to help build up your Body, the Church.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.
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Sixth Station : Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. 53:2-3 
He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces.

From the Book of Psalms. 42:2-3 
As the deer longs for flowing streams so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirst for God, for the living God.

MEDITATION
“Your face, Lord, do I seek. Hide not your face from me” (Ps 27:8-9). Veronica – Bernice, in the Greek tradition – embodies the universal yearning of the devout men and women of the Old Testament, the yearning of all believers to see the face of God. On Jesus’ Way of the Cross, though, she at first did nothing more than perform an act of womanly kindness: she held out a facecloth to Jesus. She did not let herself be deterred by the brutality of the soldiers or the fear which gripped the disciples. She is the image of that good woman, who, amid turmoil and dismay, shows the courage born of goodness and does not allow her heart to be bewildered. “Blessed are the pure in heart”, the Lord had said in his Sermon on the Mount, “for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). At first, Veronica saw only a buffeted and pain-filled face. Yet her act of love impressed the true image of Jesus on her heart: on his human face, bloodied and bruised, she saw the face of God and his goodness, which accompanies us even in our deepest sorrows. Only with the heart can we see Jesus. Only love purifies us and gives us the ability to see. Only love enables us to recognize the God who is love itself.

PRAYER
Lord, grant us restless hearts, hearts which seek your face. Keep us from the blindness of heart which sees only the surface of things. Give us the simplicity and purity which allow us to recognize your presence in the world. When we are not able to accomplish great things, grant us the courage which is born of humility and goodness. Impress your face on our hearts. May we encounter you along the way and show your image to the world.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.



Visita Iglesia in Bulacan 2 : Malolos Cathedral

MALOLOS CATHEDRAL




Third Station : Jesus falls for the first time


Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. 53:4-6 
Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

MEDITATION
Man has fallen, and he continues to fall: often he becomes a caricature of himself, no longer the image of God, but a mockery of the Creator. Is not the man who, on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among robbers who stripped him and left him half-dead and bleeding beside the road, the image of humanity par excellence? Jesus’ fall beneath the Cross is not just the fall of the man Jesus, exhausted from his scourging. There is a more profound meaning in this fall, as Paul tells us in the Letter to the Philippians: “though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men... He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross” (Phil 2:6-8). In Jesus’s fall beneath the weight of the Cross, the meaning of his whole life is seen: his voluntary abasement, which lifts us up from the depths of our pride. The nature of our pride is also revealed: it is that arrogance which makes us want to be liberated from God and left alone to ourselves, the arrogance which makes us think that we do not need his eternal love, but can be the masters of our own lives. In this rebellion against truth, in this attempt to be our own god, creator and judge, we fall headlong and plunge into self-destruction. The humility of Jesus is the surmounting of our pride; by his abasement he lifts us up. Let us allow him to lift us up. Let us strip away our sense of self-sufficiency, our false illusions of independence, and learn from him, the One who humbled himself, to discover our true greatness by bending low before God and before our downtrodden brothers and sisters.

PRAYER
Lord Jesus, the weight of the cross made you fall to the ground. The weight of our sin, the weight of our pride, brought you down. But your fall is not a tragedy, or mere human weakness. You came to us when, in our pride, we were laid low. The arrogance that makes us think that we ourselves can create human beings has turned man into a kind of merchandise, to be bought and sold, or stored to provide parts for experimentation. In doing this, we hope to conquer death by our own efforts, yet in reality we are profoundly debasing human dignity. Lord help us; we have fallen. Help us to abandon our destructive pride and, by learning from your humility, to rise again.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.

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Fourth Station : Jesus meets His mother

Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee.
All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

From the Gospel according to Luke. 2:34-35,51 
Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: 
“Behold, this child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.

Then he came down with them and went to Nazareth. And his mother kept all these things in her heart.

MEDITATION
On Jesus’ Way of the Cross, we also find Mary, his Mother. During his public life she had to step aside, to make place for the birth of Jesus’ new family, the family of his disciples. She also had to hear the words: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?... Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is brother, and sister and mother” (Mt 12:48-50). Now we see her as the Mother of Jesus, not only physically, but also in her heart. Even before she conceived him bodily, through her obedience she conceived him in her heart. It was said to Mary: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son. He will be great and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David” (Lk 1:31ff.). And she would hear from the mouth of the elderly Simeon: “A sword will pierce through your own soul” (Lk 2:35). She would then recall the words of the prophets, words like these: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he was like a lamb that is led to slaughter” (Is 54:7). Now it all takes place. In her heart she had kept the words of the angel, spoken to her in the beginning: “Do not be afraid, Mary” (Lk 1:30). The disciples fled, yet she did not flee. She stayed there, with a Mother’s courage, a Mother’s fidelity, a Mother’s goodness, and a faith which did not waver in the hour of darkness: “Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). Yes, in this moment Jesus knows: he will find faith. In this hour, this is his great consolation.

PRAYER
Holy Mary, Mother of the Lord, you remained faithful when the disciples fled. Just as you believed the angels incredible message – that you would become the Mother of the Most High, so too you believed at the hour of his greatest abasement. In this way, at the hour of the Cross, at the hour of the world’s darkest night, you became the Mother of all believers, the Mother of the Church. We beg you: teach us to believe, and grant that our faith may bear fruit in courageous service and be the sign of a love ever ready to share suffering and to offer assistance.

Our Father.... Hail Mary.... Glory Be to the Father....

Leader: Jesus Christ Crucified.
All: Have mercy on Us.
Leader: May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.
All: Amen.