21 March 2016, The Tablet

Stop crucifying yourselves and love each other instead, senior Catholic tells Filipinos

The Catholic church believes charity is a better expression of faith than nailing yourself to a cross

Filipino Catholics should stop self harming and concentrate on spreading love during Holy Week, according to a senior clergy.

“What makes these days holy? Not self-inflicted pain. Not publicised pious devotion. Not daydreaming meditation. What makes this week holy is the immeasurable, unequaled love that Christ poured into these days,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas urged during his address to the faithful on Palm Sunday.

During Holy Week some Catholic devotees in the Philippines are known to perform extreme forms of penance during Lent and Holy Week including self flagellation and sometimes reenacting the crucifixion.

“If you want to truly make a good Holy Week, love much, love more,” the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said. “Give to the poor. Visit jails. Visit hospital wards. This pilgrimage to the poor will add to the holiness of our times.

“Acts of love that make these days holy” also include giving to the poor,” Villegas added. “Check your closets. The clothes you don’t wear and shoes you keep stacked are the shoes and clothes of the poor.

In 2014, a Danish filmmaker Lasse Spang Olsen joined a group of Catholics in the Philippines who were carrying out crucifixions and was nailed to a cross for 15 minutes.

He told Huffington Post: “When I came up on the cross and got the four nails through the hands and feet, it hurt so much. I thought four holes in my body would be nothing. But I think it hurt so much because I was on a cross.

“My body did not like it. I was quite clear in my head and tried to pray … There was a complete peace without pain. There was direct line through. Just like when you talk to a child on the phone and hear them shake their head.”

In 2008, the practice was condemned by the international community when a 15-year-old boy was nailed to a cross in the small village of Cutud, about 50 miles north of the capital Manila.



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