The Pilgrims’ Journey to Rizal Churches
Written by: George Arceno
Photo courtesy of: Clarebeth Ramos
(Media and Communications Ministry)
With excitement and hope, overcoming the almost payday Friday fatigue and the still relatively cold morning, some 600 pilgrims trooped to the Mt. Carmel Parish Church on March 17, 2018 for the Lakbay Simbahan.
The destinations – the 7 parish churches in Rizal province
- Our Lady of Light (Cainta)
- St. Clement (Angono)
- St. Ursula (Binangonan)
- St. Jerome (Morong)
- St. Joseph (Baras)
- San Ildefonso de Toledo (Tanay), and
- St. Mary Magdalene (Pililia).
Loaded in ten buses all, the pilgrims visited the churches one by one, only 30 minutes or less apart from each other, even with the narrow town roads.
Sa daan pa lamang, gumaan na ang pakiramdam ng mga pilgrim dahil sa luntaing tanawin ng mga palayan, puno, halaman, bulaklak at kabundukan – paunang regalo ng Panginoon.
The 7 churches are at least 200 years old. St. Mary Magdalene is already 465 years old, its ceiling adorned with life-like mural paintings, so is St. Clement, both miniature versions of Sistine Chapel in Vatican.
Some churches have chandeliers hanging and dazzling like stars in heavens, and sprawling yards and massive foundations and walls befitting of ancient castles. Indeed, Catholic churches of the Philippines are some of the most beautiful pieces of architecture and art in the country.
In all the churches, the pilgrims offered a dedicated prayer. The pilgrims had to walk about 200 to 300 meters under the burning heat of the sun to reach the church, quite a sacrifice especially for the elderly pilgrims. But they braved it rather cleverly, riding in a tricycle.
At St. Ursula located on a hill, the pilgrims took the stairs to go up to the church, recalling a classic scene of early pilgrimages.
Why do millions of Catholics worldwide join in a Visita Iglesia year in and year out?
Tayong lahat ay mga manlalakbay lamang sa mundong ibabaw. Hindi tayo sa mundo, sapagkat ang lumikha sa atin, ang Panginoon, ay hindi sa mundo, kundi sa langit.
But how to get there? Is it enough to visit at least 7 churches every Lent in our lifetime to get there?
Amid the happy frenzy of selfies, groufies, food, and souvenirs, if we don’t lose focus of the spiritual purpose of Visita Iglesia, a pilgrimage can be a way to eternal life in heaven.
Pagtanggi sa lahat ng karangyaan at kaginhawaan sa mundo upang makamit ang nagbibigay-buhay na kamatayan – ito ang buod ng mensahe ng pilgrimage at ng Semana Santa.
Kaya mo bang gawin ito?