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Lent in the modern times

After 333 years of Spanish colonization in the Philippines, the country emerged as one of the most religious countries in Asia. Since then the religion that was imposed upon the people became a part of the culture of the Filipinos.

The Lenten season begins with the Ash Wednesday, forty days before Easter Sunday. File photo by Bing Gonzales

Religion for Filipinos played a very predominant role in almost all aspects of the society. It provides the values for nationalism, social systems, and most of all it depicts our sense of identity as a country.

According to the statistics that was released by the World Atlas in year 2018, the Philippines have a 70% Roman Catholic population. Thus, the execution of the catholic sacred practices is evident especially the observance of the lent season.

For Christians, lent is a season to contemplate, repent, and condition their hearts and spirituality for the coming of Easter. The lent season covers forty days which starts from the traditional practice of Ash Wednesday culminating to Easter Sunday which falls on April 21st this year.

The focus of Lent is on the last week of the season known as the Holy Week. It has been the custom and tradition that during this period Filipinos participate in the Eucharistic celebration of the Palm Sunday (Linggo ng Palapas), The Chanting of Pasyón (Pabasa), Cenacle (Senakulo), Visita Iglesia, Washing of the Feet, Procession of the Saints, and the Salubong or the welcoming ritual of Christ’s resurrection.

In the old days, during the Lenten period, Christians strictly observe the tradition of fasting and abstinence. This means that the people give something up from their usual habits as a form of sacrifice and to express their genuine repentance along with prayer for spiritual cleansing. There are a lot of traditional means of fasting and one of which is refraining from eating meat on specific days after the execution of Ash Wednesday. Also, giving something for those who are less fortunate is highly encouraged by the church as giving is the spirit of the lent.

One of the traditions during the Lent is the Visita Iglesia during Black Saturday. File photo by Bing Gonzales

However, the method of showing the spirit of lent has evolved through the modern times. Fasting and abstinence is now done in a different manner. From the traditional way of fasting which is refraining from eating meat is now ceasing from the literal habits of an individual. For example, someone shows his abstinence by decreasing the usage of internet or social media, going out on parties and social events, watching television, spending much time in playing video games, and many more.

Since there are specific days which are declared as a legal holiday some sees this as an avenue for them to rest and go back to their respective provinces. It is for the sole purpose of having a break from the rush of the city life and spending time with their families and friends.

Some see this as a short-term vacation given that the lent season falls on the summer break. Instead of acting out the true essence of the season, people usually go to beaches neglecting the traditional practices of most religious groups.

The Palm Sunday begins the Holy Week. File photo by Bing Gonzales

Kids, as well, on this generation are ignorant of the old customs of the season. It is a fact that some families do not practice the spirit of lent at all which results to the young generation’s lack of appreciation on the meaning of the Lenten season.

Looking into the comparison of then and now, it is clear that so much has changed in terms of the way how Filipinos show their respect to their Christian faith. Evidently this is due to the Filipinos way of adapting changes into the modern society.

Ideally, the manner on how someone should behave during the season is to retain the old ways and follow the old principles, but we have to accept that the society is constantly evolving. Thus, the way of executing these sacred practices is included.

In the end no matter how a person shows his way of showing value to the season, what matters most is the sincerity, intention, and understanding of the true value of lent which is to contemplate and sincerely repent on one’s sins.

Gregory Neil A. Dongiapon, Maria Cristina Kasandra T. Galagala, Daphni H. Madelo, and Maria Concepcion O. Lim/USeP Interns

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