Holy Week, back when I was still single, was always a busy time for me because I was part of our parish's Music Ministry. Our schedules were always packed from Maundy Thursday until the midnight Easter Sunday Mass. I seldom joined my family in their Visita Iglesia trips. Now that I'm no longer part of the choir, I made it a point to introduce the age-old Catholic tradition to my son. We have been doing the Visita Iglesia with him since 2004 and it's automatic that he leads the prayers for the Stations of the Cross.
Visita Iglesia are Spanish words meaning "church visits." Filipinos traditionally visit fourteen churches in remembrance of the 14 stations of the cross. We, on the other hand, visit only 7 churches and pray 2 stations for each church. We do the Visita Iglesia after hearing the Last Supper mass which is usually held at 6 p.m. We pray the rosary at the seventh church, too. In the past years, we finished touring the seven churches by midnight. Tomorrow, we may just be visiting seven churches in Rizal and may have to start earlier than usual.
Are you also going on a Vista Iglesia trip tomorrow with your family? Here are a few things to remember:
- Do not forget to bring your Stations of The Cross booklets and rosaries. It's better to have a copy of the booklet for each member of the family.
- Bring a penlight or a small flashlight for convenient reading of your prayer booklet. Most churches have their lights dimmed after the Last Supper Mass and only the tabernacle of the Holy Eucharist is lighted. Other churches also set up the Stations of the Cross outside the church where there is poorer lighting.
- Bring water, cold juices, and snacks especially if you are going to be visiting churches with the kids. But please, don't let the kids eat or drink inside the church. Snacking can be done while in the car.
- Charge your cellular phones. Let your kids have their cell phones in their pockets, too. That way, it will be easier to find each other in crowded places. However, put them on silent mode especially while inside the church. Guard your gadgets, too. My son's cell phone has a strap that I hook up to his belt hoop while the phone is kept in his pocket.
- Plot the churches that you will visit in a map or have an itinerary ready. It would also be best if you can find a place to have dinner in the middle of the tour.
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