Saturday, April 11, 2009

Visita Iglesia

A regular reader of this blog would know that the main event (for me) during the Lenten season is the Visita Iglesia. The tradition of visiting as many churches as possible on the evening of Maundy Thursday. The purpose is to pray for petitions (or whatever your heart desires) in front of the Blessed Sacrament which lies in state in beautifully adorned chapels near the main altar. This Lenten vigil lasts until midnight. This is an annual tradition for my family since I was a little child and it was only interrupted when we lived abroad.

This year with my dear sister now based in Singapore, we decided to limit the number of churches we will visit. For the simple reason that my father has difficulty driving at night with his poor eyesight.

We first heard mass at the church where I normally sweat up a storm, St. Francis which is located near the Edsa Shangri-la Mall. It is a pretty wide church but its ventilation system in the presence of electric fans hanging from the ceiling doesn't do much in terms of relieving the humid summer climate for me, the one with the really active sweat glands. As usual, we were super early for the 5pm mass (Mom likes to be early, always) so we had great seats. From the 3rd row we had full view of the washing of the feet rites during the Eucharistic Mass.

Our next stop was the Sanctuario de Santo Cristo. The church of my youth as it is located just a few blocks away from the high school where I had to finish an extra year (grade 7)! I wasn't accelerated directly to first year High School. Reason - I only spoke English with a French accent and naturally I failed my Filipino class. Ha! The mass wasn't over yet so they didn't allow cars to enter the church premises. We ended up parking at a side street near the entrance of the small cemetery located behind this massive edifice. The church was full so we just stood at the back where we had a nice view of the procession where they take the Holy Eucharist to the adoration chapel at the left side of the church. It turns out most of the prayle este the priests in that Church are Spaniards! I felt like I was still living in the "Noli Me Tangere" era. :D

From San Juan if you proceed towards Kalentong, cross Shaw Boulevard and simply go straight, straight ahead you eventually reach the Santa Ana Church. A special and memorable part of our lives because 40 years ago my parents said their wedding vows there. The Blessed Sacrament is located at the garden arena at the back of the Church. It is my favorite Blessed Sacrament setting because it exudes this garden of Gethsemane vibe. The floral arrangement is very simple. It is dimly lit and you can really pray intimately without being distracted by a thousand things.

The 4th stop was the San Felipe Neri Parish Church which is located at the end of Boni Avenue. Solemn Gregorian chants emanate from the Blessed Sacrament Adoration sight. It echoes throughout the bamboo dome of this edifice. On our way out of the church, we caught a glimpse of a procession complete with roving statues of the Virgin Mary, the Black Nazarene and some saints being trailed by devoted parishioners.

Our final stop was at the circle of the Mandaluyong city hall to get to the Shrine of the Divine Mercy. We made 2 rounds of the roundabout before getting a parking space. The Blessed Sacrament is displayed downstairs so you don't have to climb those steep stairs to the main church. It is nicely enclosed in an air conditioned environment with convenient sliding doors to serve as entrance and exit points. A cosy solemn place to pray while the sweat cascading down my back got a reprieve from the hot humid air.

By the time we were done, it was only around 8pm! A far cry from our usual sojourn which would end at around midnight. But Dad was already tired from parking and driving in inadequately lighted street conditions and we fully understood his limitations. We ended the evening with dinner at Jollibee, filling our stomachs with two piece burger steaks and rice for nourishment.

D & I decided to spend the night at the condo with the parents instead of venturing all the way back to the "projects". I slept soundly in my former room with the aircon at full blast. I was content after an evening of solemnity and prayerful gratitude. Along with a silent wish that the Good Lord grant my humble petitions in whatever form He deems it will fit me because Thy Will Be Done.

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