On 12 March 2016, Bulacan-bound PCJ pilgrims hustled in three buses one fine Saturday morning. After hearing the 6:00 am mass, pilgrims trooped to their respective buses and together with some PCJ priests and deacon, enjoined the pilgrims to contemplate on the 14 stations of the cross, in designated Jubilee Churches in Bulacan.
Led by the Light of the Holy Spirit (LOHS) PCJ Charismatic Community seven churches were identified as part of the 2016 Visita Iglesia. Visita Iglesia was introduced by the Spanish colonizers, which goes back to the time of the early church where Christians would visit the seven great basilicas in Rome for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during Maundy Thursday. For us Filipinos, we give reverence to the Blessed Sacrament and also contemplate on the 14 stations of the cross.
There is no really prescribed prayer for the Visita Iglesia. Some would meditate on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, others would offer silent prayers and still others would pray the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross). PCJ pilgrims recited the rosary and handled 2 stations of the cross for each jubilee church.
The Last Supper and Jesus’ Agony in Gethsemane were reflected and prayed in the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Valenzuela. PCJ pilgrims reflected further at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Marilao when Jesus was brought at the Sanhedrin, and later scourged and crowned with thorns. Fervent prayers were said at the Diocesan Shrine of Mahal na Poong Hesus in Bocaue when Jesus received the cross and fell down under the weight of the cross. The Basilica Minor of Immaculate Conception in Malolos witnessed PCJ pilgrims care for one another similar to Simon of Cyrene’s carrying of Jesus’ cross, and meeting the pious women of Jerusalem. Empathizing with Jesus’ agony as he was nailed to the cross and hearing the repentant thief, the Barasoain Church (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) in Malolos, heard PCJ pilgrims’ intent prayers for the community. The Parish Church of San Ildefonso in Guiguinto, Bulacan paved way for the PCJ pilgrims to be with Mary and John at the foot of the cross, and with reverence, reminisced Jesus’ death on the cross. When Jesus was laid in the tomb and rose from the dead, worship and intent prayers were recited at the St. John the Baptist Church in Calumpit.
Deep reflection on each joyful mystery decade was done to include the poor and suffering of our fellowmen. Despite the heat, PCJ pilgrims happily captured memories and completed the stations, equipped with fervent hope not only for themselves but also for each other.
-Minnie Ramas, MLC