Christians invited to observe solemnity in Lent

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


ARCHBISHOP Antonio Ledesma SJ, head of the archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, is inviting Christian churches in the city to join the Roman Catholics in observing the solemnity of the Holy Week.

Ledesma said the Lenten season is not exclusive for the Roman Catholics but is open to other Christian denominations, as well.

The archdiocese covers the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and the Dinagat Islands.

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“For Christian churches, this is a good way to bring about ecumenical unity, where we all believe in the passion of the narrative of our Lord, [as we thank Him] for offering His life for us,” Ledesma said.

Ledesma said: “We hope that not only Roman Catholics but all Christians can take part in this Holy Week, according to their own religious tradition.”

And in that sense, he said, “we can even join in the Station of the Cross as this is a sign of our being Christian.”

No competition

Even in the conduct of the procession during the Holy Week, Ledesma said Christian churches should not compete but share in the sacred experience with one another.

“Even in our procession, we don’t have to fight for the space. The aim of this is to show the public that we’re all believers in Christ,” he added.

For the Catholics, the observance of the Holy Week is about the passion, the narrative of Jesus Christ, “and we find that this is really something important to us as it tells us how the Lord suffered for us.”

Ledesma also appealed to the Catholic faithful not to consider ‘panaw duaw’ or visiting of the holy shrines as a mere vacation or physical exercise but as a means of spiritual enrichment.

Among the most popular pilgrimage sites here are in Malasag, Barangay Cugman; Guadalupe, Barangay Tablon, and the Divine Mercy Shrine in Barangay Ulaliman, El Salvador City.

“Kining ‘panaw-duaw’ balaan nga paagi, dili lang turista lang sila kundili sa pagpakita timaan sa ilang debosyon sa atong Ginoo (This visitation is sacred, and people should not just be there as tourists but they should do this as a sign of their devotion to God),” Ledesma said, adding, “we encourage them to be there in a prayerful way.”

He said the Holy Week is not just a time for prayer and penance but also for restoring lost or broken relationship with God.

“The mending of relationships is a challenge for all of us—returning to God and reconciliation and forgiveness for one another,” he said.

But Ledesma said forgiving those who did someone wrong will be very difficult but it has to be done.

“This is a great challenge since it’s not easy to forgive. According to Pope John Paul II, ‘we should have the courage to forgive,’” he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 16, 2014.

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