Saturday, April 15, 2006

Good Friday Goodness: Processions


Having decided to join the community Via Crucis of our parish this year, I was feeling a little proud that I was already biking my way to our church at 5:30am. Yup, I was up pretty early!

And then I got to Hibbard Avenue.

Over in the distance, I could see what looked to be a throng of people. Yes, some people had already started their Way of the Cross. From the time, it looked like this was the contingent from the Cathedral. They covered a section of Hibbard like one big mass. I should have turned back then and there, but I was enthralled. I just had to go for a closer look.

Oh, yes, it was the Cathedral contingent alright. They had just done one station and were already heading my way. I parked my bike to politely give way to the devotees; after all, one does not argue with a crowd.

One minute. Two minutes. Five minutes. Eight minutes. The number of people marching through had not thinned out at all, so I wiggled my way through so I could head on over to my own Way of the Cross.

Still, I was a little bit in shock at the number of people that were passing through. There were thousands, and they had been up since 4:00am! And there I was already feeling pretty good that I was ready with my own early participation in the Good Friday devotions.

One thought did cross my mind: this is why the atheists are not going to win. Never mind all the rational reasons (or what one thinks to be rational reasons) one might put forward: there are just too many believers. In this case, I am going to have to go with the wisdom of the crowds.

And while my own parish's Via Crucis was a tiny fraction of the Cathedral contingent, it wasn't something to sneeze at, either. We just did a small tour of the city center, though. On one occasion, we caught a glimpse of the Redemptorist contingent, too.

Later in the evening, I went downtown again to watch the traditional Burial Procession. The statues of the saints are loaded up on carromata and paraded around the city with flocks of devotees following. It's been a tradition here in Dumaguete for as long as I can remember, probably dating back to the Spanish era. As with the Via Crucis earlier in the morning, the crowd was enormous!

I was just going to watch, like I do every year. However, I saw my friends in the crowd and I said, "Ah, what the heck! I'll join in the fun." And so I did. I was a little fearful being in such a gigantic mass of people, but on the whole, it was orderly and my fears were assuaged.

I had expected the procession to be dreary, but no, it seems not. People were talking and joking in hushed tones every now and then, but without detracting from the over solemnity of the procession. It was...fun.

Yet another reason the atheists won't win.