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Of all the titles of our Blessed Mother, I chose to post about her being “Our Lady of Lebanon”. It started when I was just searching and completing my archive of Marian images from the internet when I stumbled upon her pictures of her breathtakingly beautiful and gigantic sculpture, said to be erected on the top of the hill of Harissa. I also caught sight of some interesting perspectives of the statue, especially in Flickr. Click here for more.

I especially love the one with the iron fence and a huge imposing image of the statue, as if our Blessed Mother is looking at us below and inviting us to heaven (depicted by the seemingly blue, fair and peaceful sky) while we are imprisoned in our sins. It is as if our Blessed Mother is consoling us and is giving us hope, saying “Come, My child, stand up. Be freed from your enslavement in sins. Let us go to heaven”. That is why I was so inspired that I even made one as my laptop wallpaper as a constant reminder of Our Lady’s omnipotence in her supplication. And this is also to keep the presence of God always.

That reminds me, this month of May is dedicated to Our Lady. As our Blessed Mother, let us offer her some little things with great love, as a child would do to her earthly mother.

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As usual, we received Easter eggs during the Easter vigil mass of the Paschal Triduum and during the  Easter Sunday mass. These Easter eggs were said to be prepared by the poor Claire nuns, from the eggs donated by the devotees of Sta. Clara. I remember back then how their Easter eggs were decorated with crayons. Now, they were decorated with paint. Some eggs were just painted with one color all throughout, while others are painted with monochrome repeated patterns to colorful abstract designs.

It was the day Our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for the redemption of our sins. It was also the day  we became children of God. A wonderful mystery of unfathomable greatness of the Love of God for us. But of course, He is Love Himself. And we even got a bonus, because now we have the Mother of God as our Mother too: Mary, providing us with her omnipotent supplication.

But in the context of the Filipino culture, Good Friday was also the day of senakulo, penitensiya, prusisyon, and many more. Senakulo is the traditional reenactment of the Passion of Christ. It actually starts at Maundy Thursday, but many more events unfold during Good Friday. I watched a senakulo at Puerto Rivas. Their costume weren’t that great, but their acting was just too much especially during the carrying of the cross. The man who was acting as Jesus Christ was being dragged, beaten full-force, and thrown with rocks. That was too harsh, I think.

On the other hand, penitensya is scourging of the back with bamboo whips until it bled. Men usually join the penitensya for penance, personal intentions and for intention for others, etc. They are usually half-naked, with handkerchiefs on their faces so their visages will not be known. As I watched the line of men doing penitensiya, a mischievous man approached us near the gate where we were watching and showed his bloody-red back on us as he continually whipped himself. We frantically backed off! My mother told me that some men who join the penitensiya intoxicate themselves.

There were also people who carried a cross at their backs, or a big piece of wood tied at their arms and shoulders, with some people assisting them as they rest and stop. I heard some people scream when  a man was near exhaustion.

I also attended the second mass of the Paschal Triduum, where the Salutation of the Cross was held in the chapel of the monastery of poor Claire nuns. I was so happy  to see three holy relics of saints displayed there, as that chapel is far from the center of the city. The relics were from St. Claire of Assisi, St. Francis of Assisi, and Blessed John Paul II. Then I remembered how my mother named me after St. Claire. So I took this blessed opportunity to ask for their intercessions and to venerate their holy presence.

From left to right: holy relics of Blessed John Pail II, St. Clair of Assisi and St. Francis of Assisi.