Every year on Good Friday in the parish of San Lorenzo Ruiz and Companion Martyrs
in Manila, the Philippines, the youth of the parish perform the Senakulo
, which I have called "the poor man's Oberammergau
", a "spectacular display of the Passion, a live Via Crucis and Passion Play taken into the streets, into the ordinary lives of people; out of the churches and into the highways and byways of life
The devotion lasts for 4 hours and traverses the length and breadth of the parish, stopping at the traditional fourteen Stations of the Cross.
It is a tremendous witness to the Faith, drawing the attention of passers-by and throngs of poor children who follow in its wake. Writing in my personal Journal, when I served for a year in this parish as a Dominican Volunteer
, I reflected: "No doubt the Lord’s Via Dolorosa was similar: chaotic, a mere freak-show or inconvenience to others. Some were moved by it, others merely curious, still others indifferent.
I would like to relive the two Senakulo
devotions I experienced and saw during my 12-month stay in Dagat-dagatan and share photos from the fourteen stations with you. Please join me on this journey, in the footsteps of Our Lord.
I - JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH
"So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted... and he handed Jesus over as they wished"
II - JESUS RECEIVES HIS CROSS
"So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgatha"
III - JESUS FALLS THE FIRST TIME
"Christ emptied himself, taking the form of a slave..."
(cf Phil 2:6-7)
IV - JESUS MEETS HIS MOTHER
"And a sword shall pierce your own soul too..."
V - SIMON OF CYRENE HELPS JESUS TO CARRY THE CROSS
"As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene called Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross"
(Mt 27:32).VI - JESUS AND VERONICA
"And as one from whom others hide their faces, he was despised and we held him of no account"
(Isa 53:3).VII - JESUS FALLS A SECOND TIME
"But I am a worm, and not human... you lay me in the dust of death"
(Ps 22:6, 15).VIII - JESUS COMFORTS THE WOMEN OF JERUSALEM
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children..."
(Lk 23:28).IX - JESUS FALLS A THIRD TIME
"Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accouunted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities..."
(Isa 53:4).X - JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS CLOTHES
"They took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier..."
(Jn 19:23).XI - JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS
"He took our sins on himself, giving his body to be nailed on the tree..."
(1 Pet 2:24).XII - JESUS DIES UPON THE CROSS
"Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last"
(Mk 15:37).XIII - THE BODY OF JESUS IS TAKEN FROM THE CROSS
AND LAID IN MARY'S BOSOM
"To what can I liken you, that I can comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion?"
(Lam 2:13b).XIV - THE BODY OF JESUS IS LAID IN A TOMB
"Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb"
(Mk 15:46).Let us pray:
"I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; moreover, my flesh will live in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence" (Acts 2:25-28, citing Ps 16:8-11). Amen!