Good Friday and Religiosity of Filipino Catholics

This afternoon, we went to the Sta. Clara Church-Monastery to pray the stations of the cross of Christ on Good Friday. Catholic Christians celebrate the Holy Week to commemorate the crucifixion of Christ on the cross. Why is it called Good Friday? Well, Catholics believe that the Good Friday marks the triumph of good over evil, of life over death. Christ died on the cross to be resurrected on the third day or Easter Sunday, i.e., three days after His death. The stations of the cross has fourteen stations starting with the Sanhedrin’s verdict that Christ would be crucified and ending with the resurrection. We took turns in praying the 14 stations, even my seven-year old son led some of the stations.

Religiosity has always been an important trait of many Filipinos. International surveys consistently rank the Philippines as the most religious country in the world in terms of religious beliefs. The Filipinos are always high in rankings with regard to personal devotion, strong belief in God, existence of heaven, hell, etc. Other countries such as the United States and Israel are also very religious in the yearly surveys, following the Philippines.

What are the dimensions of religiosity?

There are two dimensions of religiosity: the private or spirituality and the public. The private religiosity refers to personal devotion and prayer to God. This refers to things an individual believer does to enhance his or her personal relationship with God.The public religiosity refers to the communal participation of the believer in public rituals or activities of his/her church or religion. This includes attending the Mass, reception of the sacraments, joining religious organizations, etc. Ideally, a personal must be both religious privately and publicly. Religious faith has communal dimension, not just a personal endeavor. But who are we to judge people’s faith?

In the Philippines, many Filipino are privately religious, especially the women, but not publicly religious! The Philippines is one of the 2 Catholic countries in Asia (the other is Timor Leste) with around 85 percent are Catholic. But only around 10 percent go Mass, the primary ritual of the Catholic Church. The 90% who are predominantly poor do not go to Mass. Most are preoccupied with their daily jobs, particularly the poor in the informal sector to earn a living, or probably ignorant of their spiritual duties due to lack of systematic catechism of the Church in the country. The Catholic Church prohibits Catholics to do menial work on Sunday as the Sabbath Day or day of rest. Thus, the religiosity of the majority of Filipinos is private or personal. They have strong personal beliefs on God but do not participate in their churches’ rituals and activities.

It seems that the growing industrialization of the Philippines has gradually secularized many Catholics. This is aggravated by the weakening of the catechetical instructions of the Church for Filipino Catholics. There are less catechists in the country with the fast-growing Catholic population. The problem with the Catholic church is the lack of lay participation in the ecclesial governance. Thus, lay Catholics become passive in the catechetical apostolate!

Photo credit: Author

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