Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Friday, March 25, 2005

O vos omnes qui transitis per viam...

O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow... (Lamentations 1:12)

Beginning at 7.30 this morning, almost fifty teenagers and young adults had gathered in church for the 'Senakulo', a live Passion play and re-enactment of the Way of the Cross. This dramatic kind of street evangelization goes out into the streets, highways, alleys and neighbourhoods of the parish. Throngs of children and adults run along, following the actors who pause fourteen times along their way and form a tableau of a Biblical scene from the Passion of Jesus Christ.

As the drama of Christ's journey to Calvary unfolds, anyone following along can get caught up in the emotion and turmoil of the journey. I feel taken back to that fateful day when Christ climbed the Via Dolorosa. People are going about their business, in cars, jeepneys, tricycles; some are at the market, others fishing in the river, still others playing basketball or just loitering. In the midst of all this irrupts the strange sight of three men carrying crosses accompanied by shouting soldiers and a riotous mob. No wonder the people stop and stare...

Some look on, curious but baffled. Others look on indifferently, irritated by the noise and chaos. Still others look on in faith or sympathy and follow along. I expect the reaction of the folk of Jerusalem almost two millenia ago was not very different. But so many look and do not see. They do not "attend" and empathise with the sorrow and suffering of the Lord. This happens too, day after day in Manila as we go our way, and ignore the countless poor and hungry who traipse the streets trying to make a living and survive...

But I - we, Christians who are following this Way of the Cross have something to learn from a devotional exercise such as this: we literally become caught up in the drama of salvation as it unfolds before our eyes. Somehow, my imagination transports me to that dusty Jerusalem road and I am there, following Jesus... it is a powerful meditation on Christ's sufferings for us as well as a reminder that each day, we are called to follow Jesus by denying ourselves and carrying our cross... in the midst of life and humanity as these swirl around us. Moreover, it is also a powerful reminder of the very presence of Christ suffering in the streets of Manila and countless other places around the world. He is there in the face of the poor, faces so ugly to some that we shield our faces... (cf Isaiah 53:3)

Over two hours after we began the Senakulo with an enactment of the Agony in Gethsemane, we come off the dusty and grimy streets and return to the parish compound and watch as the three men are 'nailed' to crosses and then lifted up.

When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself... (Jn 12:32)

I hope that this day and especially the Senakulo does draw people closer to Christ, beginning with myself, a poor sinner! May the witness of so many to his great love bring even more to Jesus.

To all my readers, friends and family: A Blessed and Holy Good Friday!


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