Watching the Cenakulo with My Family

10:25 PM

During the Lenten Season, most people would only be thinking of two things: spiritual enrichment and physical relaxation. Many plan out-of-town trips while others choose to stay close to home while observing traditions associated with the season. It has always been the latter for our family because we grew up believing that the days of the Holy Week are best spent rejuvenating spiritual and familial connections.

I spent Holy Tuesday night watching a modern cenakulo entitled "Bunga ng PagGAWA" with my family. It was actually a first for all of us in such setting. My husband and I had watched once in different places during our younger days but those were a long time ago. We could hardly remember the details but of course the universal message of Christ's supreme sacrifice remained with us. 

What is the Cenakulo?

A cenakulo is a Lenten play which depicts events related to the life, suffering, and death of Jesus Christ. Tradition has it that a cenakulo is presented for at least eight nights starting from Palm Sunday up to Easter Sunday. The modern version, like the one we watched, usually runs for an hour or two. 

It is usually performed on a stage with a telon serving as a backdrop. This allows for smoother scene transitions and movement of performers. It can also be performed in open spaces like streets.The one we watched had the Christ performer dragging his cross around the venue and I must say it had quite an effect on the audience especially to the children. This was especially so when the Roman soldier started whipping Christ and the wailing of the crying women was heard all over. 

What is the Message of the Cenakulo?

My daughter's innocent question as to what the real message of the cenakulo is, again led me to deeper thinking. I must admit I have often taken such depictions in their face value. I was taught that Christ went through Crucifixion to save mankind and that was that.

When my daughter asked if it was possible for Christ to have saved us without going through such suffering, I said of course. As I grappled for some more explanation to provide her, it slowly dawned on me that Christ's submission to this particular sacrifice was not a sign of weakness or being less godly but rather to show us the way in carrying our own crosses. The show effectively linked Christ's Passion with how we should be facing our own ordeals with courage and resoluteness.

My Say

The show was in every way successful and was made possible with the combined efforts of the church leaders and the parishioners. The parish priest said in his message that it was far easier not to do any preparation of such sort but poses the question as to what good doing nothing would do for all of us. It was a message well received and understood.

That said, there are many more Lenten activities lined up for the rest of the Holy Week and our family would try harder this year to participate more. We hope to do this not only to continue a long-standing tradition among Filipino families but also in the hope that our family will become even more close and united. This is our faith in motion.

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